We have something a little different but equally as visually stimulating for you on our blog. A sneak preview of some beautiful illustrations from upcoming release ‘Green Mother’ by Dr Sarah Myhill and Michelle McCullagh with Craig Robinson. Launching later this year.
This week is National Hygiene Week. Susan Koten, author of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Giardia explains how important it is to keep washing your hands or you could get giardia as well as coronavirus…
Giardia is a very common microscopic parasite that can affect the general health of the recipient in a short space of time by interfering with the whole digestive system.
This in turn gradually weakens the body and lowers the general immunity. The signs and symptoms of an infection are varied but diarrhoea and/or constipation, lethargy, bloating, nausea, headaches, and iron-deficient anaemia are but a few of these markers.
This makes those infected very vulnerable for other pathogens to invade the body and respiratory diseases are no exception.
In my book Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Giardia, I mention that the key herb for treating this parasite is Artemesia annua, (Qing hao) (sweet wormwood), a Chinese herb which in ancient times was used to treat fever, and has been used for centuries in the treatment of malaria. Not only is it effective but it has shown few adverse reactions in toxicology studies in long term use.
Covid-19 patients were reported to have a very high iron content in their cells. The Artemesia annua-derivative, artemisinin, takes advantage of the fact that infected cells accumulate iron in large amounts – artemesinin is sequestered in cells where iron is high and this releases two oxygen molecules forming free radicals which kill the cell, leaving normal cells intact.
Cancer cells also have a high dependency on iron for growth and accumulate large amounts of iron. Artemisinin is used in the treatment of all cancers and it has the effect of destroying cancer cells leaving normal cells untouched.
An infection of Giardia can create iron-deficient anaemia; by treating it with sweet wormwood, as described in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Giardia, the patient’s health can return back to normal.
Iron appears to be a very important element to consider in any inflammatory condition and looking at the way sweet wormwood is attracted to these sites of excessive iron and destroys them this herb is definitely one to review.
We have some exciting news to share about The Perrin Technique. This was first published in 2007 and since then has sold over 11k copies, helping very many people with CFS/ME (including the HHB publisher’s son) back to health. Author Dr Raymond Perrin has been working on a new edition for some years but had found clinical commitments plus invitations to lecture and train abroad worked against his completing this major work. Now with lockdown he has been able to finalise the second edition of his book and this will be available towards the end of the year.
It is greatly expanded and now includes all the latest research that sheds light on the importance of the lymphatic system and lymphatic drainage in health. While in 2007, the connection between cranial lymphatic blockage and chronic fatigue was a ‘hypothesis’ that was supported only by the results of treatment with the Perrin Technique; now the science exists to transform hypothesis into knowledge and to explain the diverse symptoms of CFS/ME.
Because the second edition, with the new sub-title ‘How to diagnose and treat chronic fatigue syndrome/ME and fibromyalgia via the lymphatic drainage of the brain’, is greatly expanded (it will be around 500 pages) we will have to increase the price considerably but will ensure there is a more reasonably priced eBook as an alternative.
We are announcing the second edition now because copies of the first edition have run out and we can no longer offer it for sale. You may be able to find it online from some vendors and the author also has some copies remaining and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone who can’t wait for the second edition – and the eBook continues to be available here.
If you wish to leave an expression of interest with Hammersmith Health Books regarding a pre-publication special offer, please contact us via email@example.com and you can pre-order from Amazon and other booksellers. Please bear with us while we complete work on this large, complex and highly illustrated book. We can’t wait… but we have to get it right!
Blog post written by NH Hawes, author of Nature Cures: Recovery from Injury, Surgery and Infection
Many studies have concluded that low levels of the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D, in the body could play a part in reducing the immune system’s ability to fight off the Covid-19 virus. Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin from the sun’s rays and then stored in the liver for up to 60 days. It only takes 15 minutes of sunshine on the skin, a few days a week, to produce the vitamin D the body requires. Low levels will affect the immune system and can be caused by various factors, as follows:• Working or staying inside buildings during daylight hours.
• Covering the skin when going outside.
• Using sunscreen on all exposed skin before venturing outside.
• Being over the age of 60 as the body’s ability to manufacture and store vitamin D begins to deplete.
• Consuming too much alcohol.
• Having a compromised or damaged liver.
• Kidney disease.
• Gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s, coeliac and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity or IBS.
• Skin disorders.
• Some medications.
Also, in the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, where most human beings reside, the sun’s rays are too weak to allow this process to take place from 1st October until 1st April every year. As the body’s stores of this vitamin become depleted, after 30-60 days, humans become prone to infections in the winter, especially viral and bacterial infections of the respiratory and sinus tracts. Therefore, there are far more outbreaks of viral colds, influenzas and pneumonia from November until April.
Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise because people have become aware of the risks of skin cancer caused by exposure to the sun’s harmful rays and either use sunscreens or cover up or avoid the sun completely. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or more appear to block vitamin D-producing UV rays, although, in practice, people do not apply sufficient amounts, cover all sun-exposed skin or reapply sunscreen regularly. Therefore, skin likely synthesises some vitamin D even when it is protected by sunscreen as typically applied.
Those with dark skin have less ability to produce vitamin D as over 90% of the sun’s rays cannot penetrate the skin This is also applicable to those who maintain a deep suntan over a period of time. This may explain why BAME people have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 virus.
Fifteen minutes of midday sunshine on bare skin can provide all the body needs. It is not the same as sunbathing; the skin simply needs to be exposed to sunlight a few days a week. UVB radiation does not penetrate glass, so exposure to sunshine indoors through a closed window does not produce vitamin D. Over-exposure to the sun’s rays can be dangerous for the skin but no exposure at all can be equally detrimental to our health. Complete cloud cover reduces UV energy by 50%; shade (including that produced by severe pollution) reduces it by 60%. This may also explain why the Covid-19 virus seemed to be especially prevalent and dangerous in polluted areas.
Vitamin D also protects against vascular disease via several different mechanisms, including reducing chronic inflammatory reactions that contribute to the pathology of the disease. Vitamin D also improves blood circulation throughout the body, which is essential for the heart to function properly. This helps reduce the risk of blood clots causing heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and other problems. Therefore, deficiency of vitamin D may also be the cause of these outcomes in the more serious Covid-19 cases.
Levels of vitamin D can be replenished marginally by consumption of vitamin D-rich foods such as:
o Krill oil
o Maitake mushrooms
o Rainbow trout
o Cod liver oil
o Chanterelle mushrooms
o Raw milk
o Egg yolk
o Hemp seeds
o Portabella mushrooms
However, often vitamin D levels drop too low and enough of these foods cannot be consumed to correct it. It is then that vitamin D supplements are required. It must be vitamin D3 that is consumed as the body cannot absorb vitamin D2. Plus, as it is a fat-soluble nutrient, it can only be absorbed into the body with some oil; consequently, vitamin D3 in oil capsules is the best way to ensure absorption.
The optimum level of vitamin D in the blood should be 50-70 ng/ml and up to 100 ng/ml to treat cancer and heart disease.
It is particularly important to have a blood test to determine vitamin D levels, especially if any of the following health issues are present:
• Abdominal pain
• Age-related macular degeneration
• Autoimmune disease
• Bacterial infections
• Bone disorders
• Burning sensation in the mouth and throat
• Chronic fatigue
• Colds and coughs
• Constipation and diarrhoea
• Diabetes mellitus
• Dry eye syndrome
• Fungal infections
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Irritable bowel syndrome • Insomnia
• Kidney disorders
• Liver disorders
• Loss of appetite
• Lower back pain
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Muscle weakness or pain
• Nausea and vomiting
• Parasite infections
• Peripheral neuropathy
• Polyuria (producing large amounts of diluted urine)
• Polydipsia (abnormally high thirst)
• Poor appetite or loss of appetite
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Seizures – can be fatal
• Skin disorders (eczema and psoriasis)
• Systemic lupus erythematosus
• Viral infections including Covid-19
• Visual problems
• Weakened immune system
In conclusion, the evidence that vitamin D may have an influence on the Covid-19 pandemic and should be tested for is as follows:
• Covid-19 became prevalent from November 2019 to April 2020, peaking in March 2019 when levels would be particularly low.
• Became more prevalent in polluted areas.
• Higher numbers of the BAME community had serious, and often fatal, outcomes.
• Persons over 60 were hardest hit.
• Persons with underlying health issues, often made worse by vitamin D deficiency, were hit harder.
If you feel you may have low levels of vitamin D, get a blood test done by your doctor as soon as possible. Also make sure that in November 2020 you get your levels checked again. This is important to help you fight off all viral infections, including colds and influenzas and especially the Covid-19 virus.
It’s a difficult time for all of us – and particularly so for anyone with dementia. We are all being urged to stay at home and people in care homes are no longer allowed even to see visitors. How can those of us caring for people with dementia provide an environment that gives them the best experience in these circumstances?
First, it is important that the environment is supportive. Life does not always run smoothly and those of us who still have plentiful cognitive reserves learn to cope with that fact. We can acknowledge the need to limit our social contacts and our outings in the present circumstances. We can accept that we may feel anxious, bored and annoyed and we all hope to ‘come out the other side’ when life resumes its normal path.. Someone who has little cognitive reserve, for whom even following a routine is difficult, will find any change or complication doubly difficult. People with dementia need support. They need support from those around them and it is doubly important that those they rely on for support continue to give calm and consistent care.
As much as possible carers should keep to the habitual routine. There is no need to force the person with dementia to stay indoors, for example. If the rest of us are allowed outdoor exercise then so are they. ‘Social distancing’ can easily be maintained simply by walking in quieter areas or gently directing the person you care for in the right direction.
Secondly, the environment should feel safe. Note that I am not saying here that the environment should be safe but that it should feel safe to the person with dementia. Naturally, we should aim for a clean home environment – but becoming over-protective about touching surfaces or cleaning areas is not going to help someone with dementia to feel more safe and secure. It is more likely to cause extra stress as they cannot understand the need for such precautions. And bear in mind that most people with dementia confronted with a person wearing a mask and gloves are likely to feel terrified rather than safe.
Thirdly, the preferred environment for people with dementia should be stimulating to the senses and provide an opportunity for social interaction. Now that day centres and dementia cafes have been forced to close many carers are finding it quite challenging to provide activities for people with dementia and even more challenging to provide social interaction.
The fact is that without stimulation any of us may become bored and doze off. How often has this happened to you whilst watching a boring TV programme? People with dementia are frequently bored because many of the occupations with which they passed the time previously are now closed to them. Boredom can lead to difficult behaviour and restlessness, but often it just results in sleepiness. Simple tasks can be enjoyed – think sorting books by size, pairing socks, ‘tidying’ shelves, dusting and polishing. And remember that an impaired memory can be an advantage. If you ask someone to dust a piece of furniture more than once they are unlikely to remember that they have just completed the task. Outdoor jobs like watering plants, raking up leaves, and carrying trimmings to the compost heap combine fresh air and exercise as well as passing the time and ‘tidying the shed’ can occupy a good few hours even if the result doesn’t live up to the job description! Watching visitors to a bird table can be absorbing and this can be done through a window if the weather is not so good.
Providing social interaction is more challenging. Today we are being urged to use technology and social media to keep in touch with others but this is not an acceptable alternative for people with dementia who progressively lose the ability to work even simple devices such as a remote control. Many people with a cognitive difficulty will also be unable to associate screen pictures with the ‘real thing’ and may even find them frightening.
Telephone calls are often still acceptable as this is a method of communication that is still familiar so ask your relatives and friends to use the telephone to make contact.
You can also talk to neighbours ‘over the fence’ or whilst keeping an acceptable distance on a walk. Carers from care agencies are still allowed to visit to provide personal care or companionship if this is necessary so don’t cancel your regular care and remember to give them tips about chatting to the one you care for.
Blog post written by Mary Jordan, author of The Essential Carer’s Guide to Dementia.
We are all facing the very real threats of Coronavirus and many of us are self-isolating now, especially the over 70s. Life as we knew it has completely evaporated. For anyone with osteoarthritis, there are plenty of things that you can do to help the condition and keep yourself generally healthy in the face of such a threat.
What better way to spend all our cooped up time than doing some exercise, at whatever level you can manage? It helps to have an exercise slot during your very long day so that you remember to do it and it gives you something positive to do.
If you have an exercise bike, now is the time to build up the muscles around the knee which protect arthritic joints and make legs stronger. Just 10 minutes a day can make your legs feel good and strengthen the knee area.
There are also specific exercises for osteoarthritis in the knees, hips and hands.
- For arthritic fingers: try some gentle stretching/splaying of the fingers, or make a fist with your hand and then completely relax it.
- For knees: sit well back in the chair with good posture. Straighten and raise one leg. Hold for a slow count up to 10, then slowly lower your leg. Similar exercises can be done lying down or standing. If you are unsteady on your feet hold on to a firm surface and do a few squats bending your knees so that they are over your feet, making sure you only do as much as you can.
- For hips: Hold onto a work surface and march slowly on the spot bringing your knees up towards your chest alternately. Don’t raise your thigh above 90 degrees. Also, holding on to a surface, bend each knee in turn, putting your heel up towards your bottom with the kneecap pointing towards the floor.
There are more diagrams (courtesy of Versus Arthritis) in One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis with helpful instructions.
So with all this time on our hands, do something helpful for your fitness, to keep your joints working well and avoid getting bored. Above all, stay safe.
Blog post written by Frances Ive, author of One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis.
At its simplest, scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. It looks like an S shape. There are four common types:
- Right thoracic curve – curve to the right (thoracic) upper back.
- Right thoraco-lumbar curve – curve bends to the right of the thoracic down to the lumbar (lower back).
- Right lumbar curve – curve bends to the right of the lumbar.
- Double major curve – usually a curve to the right at the thoracic and left at the lumbar.
Diagnosis includes bending over to touch the toes and checking to see how symmetrical the spine appears plus X-ray, CT scan and MRI.
Signs of scoliosis as advised by the NHS include:
- A visibly curved spine
- Leaning to one side
- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder or hip sticking out
Treatment for scoliosis includes wearing a brace to help straighten the spine which can work, depending on the stage of the curvature, or surgery. If the spine develops a severe curve, this can cause pain, while also putting pressure on the heart, lungs and other organs. Physiotherapy, exercise and massage can also alleviate pain before and after surgery.
Starting to exercise again after scoliosis surgery can be daunting for many people. How far do you push your body and how quickly? It is easy to have lost confidence in your ability to judge your body especially if you have been out of action for months.
My guidelines for returning to exercise are based on recovery after scoliosis spinal fusion surgery but the general principles can be applied to anyone who has had fusion surgery, for example damaged discs, or indeed any other condition.
The idea after scoliosis surgery is to build up back muscles gently.
According to the surgeon from my third surgery, the general rule is to lift no more than 5 kilos with free weights.
Starting back to exercise
You should not feel pain during exercise at all. If there is any pain in the joints – back, neck, hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists – stop what you are doing immediately. Gentle muscle pain after two days is normal in, for example, the quads (thighs), glutes (bottom) and abs (stomach). It is not normal not to be able to walk, or to have terrible neck and shoulder pain or to be in agony. If this happens, either the exercise was performed incorrectly or you have overdone it, or that exercise is definitely not for you. Do not over-push yourself at any time after scoliosis surgery. Initially, fatigue sets in quickly, so always make sure there is a rest time when the session is finished. Chill out for at least 30 minutes afterwards.
Always be aware of your posture and body alignment. Head, neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, ankles and toes should follow each other. A tip is to look down or check yourself in the mirror. Are your knees pulling together or your toes positioned inwards? Knees should be front facing or slightly outwards and toes positioned between 11am and 1pm OR 10am and 2pm.
With my clients, I operate what I call ‘exercise allergy awareness’
EXERCISE ALLERGY AWARENESS
- Start with one gentle exercise
- Start with low repetitions
- Wait for two to three days
- If you feel no pain at all after two to three days, continue with the first exercise and add a second
- Wait another two to three days
- If you feel no pain at all, add a third exercise to your routine
- Wait another two to three days
- If you feel no pain at all, add a fourth exercise, and so on … If you do feel pain, which at its maximum should be no more than gentle muscle pain, you will now be aware that a particular exercise is to be avoided – just like a food allergy.
Regular exercise will really help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your spine, keeping them strong. As a result, posture will improve and you will look and feel so much better. It is a case of listening to recommendations from the consultant, physiotherapist and your body as to what may be comfortable to do.
Always consult your GP, consultant or physiotherapist before starting to exercise again.
Blog post written by Caroline Freedman, author of The Scoliosis Handbook, coming soon to Hammersmith Health Books. For more information about Caroline or the book, visit her website: https://www.scoliosishandbook.com/ or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
19th April marks National Garlic Day. To celebrate, we thought we would take some time to acknowledge the healing power of this versatile plant. Below is an excerpt from Nature Cures, a book by NH Hawes.
Garlic (Allium Sativa)
Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Ancient Egyptians appear to have been the first to cultivate this plant and it had an important role in their culture. It was revered and placed in the tombs of Pharoahs and also given to the slaves that built the Pyramids too enhance their endurance and strength.
The garlic bulb is a natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal, cleanser and antioxidant and aids the body’s natural ability to resist disease. Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. It is a natural anthelmintic and is especially useful against giardia, leishmania, plasmodium roundworms and trypanosomes.
Tips on Using Garlic
- Always add crushed or chopped garlic at the end of cooking a meal to retain the powerful properties that prolonged heat can destroy
- Never store garlic in oil at room temperature as this provides the perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted.
- Garlic should be avoided by persons diagnosed with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)
Ailments Garlic Can Help to Treat and Protect Against
- Bacterial infections
- Colon Cancer
- Digestive disorders
- Food poisoning
- High Blood Pressure
- Liver disorders
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Parasites and worms
- Poor circulation
- Prostate disorders
- Renal cancer
- Whooping cough
- And many more…
To learn more about garlic and other natural food remedies, check out Nature Cures by NH Hawes.
Alex Wu’s new book, A User’s Manual for the Human Body is a transformative guide to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The book shows how Traditional Chinese Medicines differ from Western medicine and what that means in practice. It also illustrates how we can help our bodies to heal themselves and thereby achieve a longer, healthier life. Here, Alex answers a few questions about his lifestyle, which is the basis for his book.
Can you describe your current lifestyle? How many hours per night do you sleep?
I am 66 years old so my regime might not be the same as people in different age groups. I sleep at 10pm and I wake up normally around 6am. I do the pericardium massage when I wake up in the morning and at night time, I practice the bladder meridian massage (Both the hair combing and back massage). I do the gallbladder massage (leg) after dinner. I try to walk at least an hour a day during the day time and I pay attention to the amount of clothes that I wear to avoid getting a cold.
Describe your diet. What do you eat? Are there any foods that you avoid?
There is no specific food that I eat or avoid but the general rule is I try to eat as little processed food as possible. To avoid cold energy, I do not eat anything raw except for fruits. The fruits that I eat are the ones that are in season.
What exercise do you do?
I exercise mainly through walking and I practice Tai-Chi occasionally.
What was your life like before you started practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine? What aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine that was most impactful?
Before I was ill, I worked well over 60 hours a week under high pressure. I was an investment banker in China back in the 1990s. I wouldn’t say that my regime was changed because of TCM but rather TCM concepts let me understand what type of harm this regime was causing to my body. I quit my job and it changed everything.
In your book, you talk about the Qi and the TCM concept of blood. How would you explain that to a Western audience?
An analogy I often use when describing qi to those who do not have a deep cultural understanding of the concept is that the body is a battery. Blood is the equivalent of the battery’s capacity and qi is the amount of energy currently stored in the battery. It would logically follow that the amount of qi you can have is limited by the amount of blood you have. This relationship between blood and qi is important if we are to understand how to improve our health. Because the quantity of qi a person can have is determined by the amount of blood the person has, the focus of healthy living should be to increase the amount of blood in the body.
You can purchase the book from Hammersmith Health Books. The paperback is now on special offer for £9.99 and the ebook is £5.99.
As a highly experienced community midwife and teacher, Bridget Sheeran knows that pregnancy should be a time for vital physical and mental preparation. The body and mind do much of this automatically, but there are many ways to support this process and to resist the day-to-day stresses that can hinder it. In her book, Preparing for Birth: Colouring Your Pregnancy Journey, Bridget invites pregnant women to allow their natural curiosity to rise up and lead them to discover how they can help themselves through the process of birth. If you’re looking for a great gift for an expectant mother, ditch the helpful advice books and instead, get her something that will be truly appreciated.
Here is a review from an expectant mum who recently received Bridget’s book:
I was on my own in New York City, pregnant, working two jobs and facing winter. It was a pretty daunting time.
People were so quick to recommend all manner of books I should read about pregnancy and birth and childcare that just trying to jot down the names was exhausting. It often felt that if someone recommended a book one day with one approach, the following day someone else would mention a different book with a completely opposite way of doing things. Put babies on their back. Put them on their tummy. Don’t let them cry. Do let them cry. Let them sleep with you. Don’t let them sleep with you. Do various forms of exercise before childbirth. Keep away from precisely those activities. It felt that if I started buying books I could disappear down a rabbit hole of conflicting advice so, in the end, I didn’t buy a single one.
When I was given Bridget’s book as a gift, I dutifully opened the wrapping paper and expressed kindest thanks to the giver for such a thoughtful present, all the while thinking that it was highly unlikely I’d end up reading whatever was inside. So as not to be rude, I opened the book and immediately fell in love with the whole idea. A colouring book. Blooming marvellous. The perfect thing for banishing anxious thoughts and conflicting messages. How was this not the go-to gift for expectant mothers?
As the pregnancy progressed and I stole quiet moments to colour in the charming pages, I found that I had my own instincts on how this would all play out. I just needed to create the space to let those thoughts form and flow and setting aside time for colouring and a cup of tea was the perfect catalyst. The tranquility of mind that comes with something as simple as colouring in cannot be underestimated and I’ll be buying Bridget’s book in future for anyone growing a little human.
You can purchase Bridget’s book from Hammersmith Health Books for £9.99