We all visit practitioners both conventional and complementary in the hope that they can diagnose and remove our symptoms . Unexplained aches and pains, migraines, maybe digestive problems or perhaps something more serious. In our western culture we tend to regard our physical bodies as unknown territories that, like machines, can run down or stop functioning and so periodically need tweaking from the doctor-mechanic to get back on the road again. Yet there is an enormous difference between being symptom free and coming back into relationship with ourselves. By the latter I mean the sense that we are actually existing, actually present within our physical bodies and feeling joyous about that experience. Perhaps the best way of describing this sense of safety and deep seated happiness is the tangible sense of being at home, being embodied.
Most of us, through various life events (shocks both serious and minor from birth onwards) and habit, live somewhere outside ourselves. Energetically we are in our heads distracted about the past or what we must do in the future. Only last week I was driving on a road and suddenly thought – gosh! How on earth did I get here ? I don’t remember passing through X village.
For those who have our heads in the clouds physical treatments are wonderful. Massage and aromatherapy allow us to reconnect with our bodies through the experience of touch and smell. Shiatsu, which takes place on the ground and with the client fully clothed and so feels safe to start with, is an energetically deeper treatment. To continue with the mechanical analogy, a Shiatsu session reconnects the wires (the meridians) so that symptoms can be helped at the same time as the body energies reintegrate in harmony and the engine purrs! Every part is working together and clients frequently report that they literally do sense they are back in their bodies. It is a good feeling.
John Upledger, one of the pioneers of Craniosacral therapy as we know it today distinguishes between “curing” by the doctor and “healing” which is up to the individual. Craniosacral also works with this healing aspect which is more than just “getting better”. There is a sense of greater coherence as knots in the fascial system unravel and we re-member ourselves as unique conscious physical beings on the journey of a lifetime!
A quiet time in meditation can help maintain this sensation of presence to ourselves. But we must never forget our earthly housing, our body. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh is adamant about maintaining the connection to our physical selves:
When you breath in, you bring your mind home to your body. A lot of time, your mind is not with your body. But when they are together, you are truly in the here and the now for your transformation and healing. It is wonderful be present and your breath becomes the object of your mind and you can become a free person.
By nutritional therapist Sally Beare, dip BCNH, CNHC
If you are hoping to get through Christmas without having to move permanently into that outsize reindeer sweater your well-meaning relative is giving you, you might wish to consider doing The Stacking Plan. I guided two volunteers through my healthy eating plan last Christmas, and they both declared they felt a lot better by the time January came than they normally would. Not only that, but they both lost weight, yet enjoyed Christmas as much as ever.
It might seem crazy to embark on a healthy-eating plan at this time of year, but that’s the whole aim of The Stacking Plan – it’s not about giving things up, it’s about taking things on.
Each week, you add a good new habit to your existing regime, and you don’t have to think about taking things away. By the end, you have stacked on the ten good habits you need to be eating a basic optimum diet, without going hungry or feeling deprived.
And if one too many alcohol-fuelled parties or a mass invasion of mince pies happens during this time, it doesn’t matter. You will know how to get back on track and give your system a few of the things it does want to stop it from being all ‘bah humbug!’ when you are trying to enjoy yourself. Of course, if you don’t want to do the Plan now, you can always put the book on your Christmas list and start in January, to get 2016 off on the right foot.
Remember, not all festive fare needs to be bad for you anyway. The Health Hub is the perfect place to experience a bit of Yuletide stacking, since the café will be serving nutritious-yet-delicious food and drink over the coming weeks. A visit to the Hub is just the ticket for those who want to treat both their taste buds AND their digestive systems to a gift they’ll really appreciate. More than you ever did that reindeer sweater.
You can pick up a copy of The Stacking Plan at the Health Hub or order it here:
To find out about personal guidance through the Plan from Sally please email her on
Sally is also the author of The Live-Longer Diet (Piatkus, UK, 2003) and 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest-Living People (Marlowe, US, 2006). 50 Secrets has sold over 20,000 copies, been translated into many different languages worldwide, has 50 reviews on Amazon rating an average of 4.5 stars, and is one of Yoko Ono’s favourite health books.
Welcome to the Baby Hub! For those of you who don’t know much about what we are offering we are committed to providing a space where parents can come any time they need support, warmth, nurture, clarity and understanding.
Whether it is classes to support the antenatal and postnatal period, or one to one sessions to support body and mind, or just a café space to hang out in, be fed and receive support, every Thursday this is on offer at the Health Hub.
In the New Year I am offering “themed lunch” events when mums (and dads/partners) are welcome to drop by and come and be part of the conversation focused on aspects of parenting. Theses events are free you just pay for your food or drink in the café then join us. The dates and themes for these lunches is as follows;
Thursday January 7th Coping with your baby crying
Thursday January Managing 2nd and 3rd children; managing sibling relationships
Thursday February 11th Family Relationships
All the other Thursdays I will be in the café 12.15 to 1.30 every week just to offer support, nurture and sign posting to other support if needs to.
Thursday 14th January we are offering a Nurturing Parents afternoon with a cosy lunchtime in the café followed by half hour sessions offered in reflexology, craniosacral therapy and massage, where baby is welcome alongside mum, or given the sessions are half an hour perhaps friends can come hold the baby in the café for half an hour whilst mum having treatment.
Becoming a new mum (or parent) is probably one of the most enormous life transitions anyone can go through. It affects your emotional, physical and spiritual well being and you might well feel stretched to your limits.
Vulnerability is most certainly going to be closer to the surface, as tiredness and stretched resources inhibit the opportunities to take time out. How do we hold steady at this time, allow the growth and trust that all is well and good, even if baby is crying and tempers are frayed? Don’t isolate yourself talk to others and you will probably find out that your mothering peers know exactly what you are speaking about. Sometimes the transition can also activate unresolved childhood stress and experience. Defences are down with exhaustion being common, so it is normal to feel that old vulnerabilities make themselves known. Try not to react to them, but accept the healing offered by the reappearance of old stories and old stuff. Sometimes just having a session to look at this and make connections, understand what is being triggered so that is does not feel so overwhelming.
I offer both counselling for new parents (one to one or couple counselling), birth trauma resolution and relationship support, whilst also helping mums to find their strength and liberation in their parenting, in one to one sessions at the hub.
I also offer craniosacral therapy for mums and babies, which can be great antenatally for supporting the pregnant body, but also postnatally for integrating the birth.
Call me on 07969204763 if you would like to find out anything more about the Baby Hub days or the sessions available.
Warm regards and wishing all new parents love and joy in their parenting,
Perhaps the biggest discussion topic that comes up when I teach meditation, both to groups and individual clients, is that of self-acceptance. In order to enter into the stillness of our mind in meditation, we need to let go of any distracting thoughts, and this involves cultivating a non-judgemental attitude – towards our thoughts and our selves. As soon as we start to judge, we ‘fuel the fire’ of movement and agitation in our minds, which takes us further away from the mind’s natural stillness.
It is rare that I find someone who doesn’t have any issues around self-acceptance. Most of us have a number of things that we don’t like about ourselves, which serve as the basis for self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings – things like our appearance, our behaviour, our habits.
Try asking yourself right now, ‘What don’t I like about myself?’ You may come up with a list of things – you may find it helpful to write them down.
Our lack of self-acceptance makes us feel unhappy and angry. Also the critical, negative thoughts that we have about others stem from these critical, negative thoughts that we have about ourselves. Feeling unconditional love towards others begins with loving ourselves unconditionally.
In the natural stillness of our minds, there is no place for these judgemental thoughts. There is only love – pure and unconditional – and with that, comes complete acceptance of ourselves and others.
Sam May teaches meditation for health and wellbeing at The Natural Health Clinic. He has been teaching meditation since 1994. Sam also works as an acupuncturist and a health consultant for complementary and alternative medicine. For further information visit www.lucentmeditation.com
By Ruth Baker, Medical Herbalist BSc MNIMH
This blog post gives information about recent herb walks. I shall organize more walks in spring next year, and may conduct one more walk in the Autumn. Herb walks help people to recognize plants growing locally and to become more knowledgeable about natural plant remedies.
I have conducted two herb walks this summer, one on the Downs and the other along the Frome valley. The walk on the Downs was well attended, and we found a wide variety of medicinal plants. Some areas are being left uncut, allowing more plants to grow and self-seed, and this is a very encouraging development. Unfortunately, it was pouring with rain when I conducted the second walk in late August, but it still went ahead – most herbalists are not deterred by rain!
Here are some of the plants we identified:
The Downs, June 2012
Hawthorn – Crataegus monogyna. The hawthorn was in full flower during our June walk, and now the berries are ripening. It is mainly used in the treatment of cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension, arteriosclerosis (‘hardening’ of the arteries) and angina, and there is now a considerable body of research supporting its effectiveness. nb heart conditions should never be treated without professional advice.
Elder – Sambucus nigra. Elder is known mainly for its use in making elderflower cordial. The flowers are used in the treatment of colds and flu, and together with yarrow and peppermint are drunk as an infusion to control fever. They are also used for nasal catarrh and sinusitis, hay fever and allergic rhinitis. The berries are a gentle laxative, and also made into a ‘rob’, or cordial for coughs. A recent research article found evidence that the berries have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (Krawitz et al, 2011)
Herb Robert – Geranium robertianum. The leaves and flowering tops of this plant can be used, and it flowers for several months. The colour of the leaves varies from green to red. It can help as an astringent, for example as a mouthwash, and also diarrhoea, as it contains tannins. It is also known as a haemostatic (controls bleeding), and can be used to help heal peptic ulcers.
Horse chestnut – Aesculus hippocastanum. It is mainly the fruit, or conker, that is used in medicine. However, care should be taken as it can be an irritant both internally and externally to broken skin. It is best known for its use in the treatment of varicose veins and venous insufficiency (‘sluggish’ veins), and also haemorrhoids (‘piles’). A colleague of mine finds that the leaves are equally effective externally, and uses them in the form of an infused oil made into a cream. Unfortunately, throughout Europe the hawthorn is being attacked by a bleeding canker disease, and you have probably noticed the sickly-looking leaves later in the year.
The Frome Valley, late August 2012
Meadowsweet – Filipendula ulmaria. If you rub the leaves of this plant, you will notice a characteristic smell, a bit like almond essence or wintergreen. Meadowsweet contains salicylates, and is the plant from which aspirin was first synthesized. It is used to treat stomach inflammations such as gastritis, and unlike aspirin, is not an irritant. It can also help in heartburn, and in rheumatic pain. The Council cut down a large clump of the plant just as it was about to flower, but it has grown back and is in flower as I write. I am hoping to persuade them to leave it alone next year!
Figwort – Scrophularia nodosa. Both the aerial parts – leaves and flowers – and the rhizomes of this plant are used internally and externally, mainly for chronic psoriasis and eczema. Herbalists will usually focus on internal treatment of skin conditions, in that they are frequently the result of the body’s inability to eliminate toxins. It is also used in the healing of ulcers and swellings, the word scrofula being an archaic term for swollen glands.
Comfrey – Symphytum officinale. One of the common names of this plant is knitbone, and it continues to be used to heal not only bone fractures, but also joint sprains and muscle strains. Both the leaf and root are used, though there is somewhat confusing advice regarding the use of comfrey root internally, as it may be toxic to the liver in large quantities. It is used in the treatment of ulcers internally, and also arthritis, and externally for wounds as well as the conditions mentioned above. This plant too was cut down by the Council, but as can be seen from the photo, taken in late August, is has grown back and is in full flower.
Both drop-in sessions and full consultations are offered – phone the receptionist on 0117 974 1199 for details, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Barker, J. (2001). The medicinal flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe. West Wickham: Winter Press
- Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to the blending of liquid herbs. St. Louis: Churchill Livingstone
- Krawitz, C. et al ((2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:16
- Plants for a Future (2012). Scrophularia nodosa. Available online from: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Scrophularia+nodosa
- Robbins, C. (1995). The household herbal. London: Transworld Publishers Ltd
By Clementine O’Shaughnessy, Dip.Couns, DHP, HPD, LHS, MBAC
Do you suffer with regular anxiety, panic attacks, or a phobia of any kind? If so, the symptoms listed below will be all too familiar…
- Feeling constantly on edge with scary, anxious thoughts running through your head.
- Feeling like you’re about to lose control and do something dangerous or embarrassing.
- Getting light headed or dizzy with heart palpitations and dread.
- Feeling disconnected from reality and spacey.
- Feeling trapped in situations you can’t ‘escape’ from…i.e. driving, restaurants, social functions, or even standing in queue.
- Worrying you’ll stop breathing because your chest and throat feel so tight. Your vision can get blurry, your hands and feet tingle, and your palms sweat.
You may have even seen a doctor fearing a heart condition or other emergency to have them find nothing physically wrong with you.
It really doesn’t help the situation to try and find the cause of your first attack, because the reason wouldn’t be of much help, because the solution is the same.
When you feel you’re threatened, it activates your body’s “fight or flight” response, which is a survival mechanism from long ago. Within fractions of a second, hormones pump through your body and prepare you to fight off a dangerous predator, or run away as fast as you can….
This is a GREAT response if you’re actually under attack or in danger. But when you’re in a shop, or at work, or out socialising, and there’s no REAL threat- it’s very disabling.
You see- your mind will respond the same to THOUGHTS of a wild animal as actually seeing one. Your response is an instinctual one, as you’re not reacting on a rational, logical level. You don’t really THINK at all, -you just REACT based on thousands of years of evolution.
It’s a reaction that’s occurring on a deeper subconscious level, which is difficult to change as it’s a protection.
Whenever you get anxious, your mind reflects back to other times you survived the panic and will AUTOMATICALLY react in the same way… this is often to run away, which simply perpetuates the same behaviour. This eventually lets the mind believe that it is CORRECT TO BE SCARED, thus making the behaviour worse…
In effect- your thoughts are encouraging the fear response. The remedy is to bring your anxiety down generally, to use hypnosis with a therapist to change the sub-conscious pattern and start to focus on what you see your life being like when you’re calm and relaxed.
This blog also appears on clementine-hypnotherapy.co.uk/blog
By James McVeigh, clinic assistant
The ideas of homeopathy were first put forward by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, in 1807. Originally he had made his living as a village doctor, before becoming disillusioned with the inadequacies of early 19th Century medicine which often worsened rather than healed conditions. More than a decade later, he learned how the bark of a Peruvian tree can help treat malaria. When he tried consuming this bark whilst healthy to test its effects, he developed symptoms similar to those of the early stages of the disease. From this, he became convinced that ‘like cures like’, a principle first put forward by the 16th Century chemist Paracelsus.
Upon further research he developed his newly christened science of ‘Homeopathy‘ with the ideas of potentization and succussion. Succession is a method of shaking involving elastic and is combined with dilutions of a substance that generates similar symptoms to the target disease. This method causes the substance to become ‘potentized’, retaining its therapeutic effects and losing the negative symptoms.
He also put forward the idea of ‘miasms’ which are deep-rooted causes of diseases that affect the vitality of the sufferer. The importance of miasms is that the treatment of just the symptoms is not guaranteed to be effective, as the underlying problem is not addressed.
Homeopathy declined in the late 19th to early 20th Century, but underwent a resurgence in the 1970s, largely due to the efforts of the greek Homeopath George Vithoulkas. He studied the practice in South Africa and India before returning to Greece and starting a school, centre, journal and society for Homeopathy. His work established Homeopathy as a credible medical treatment system in Greece, later expanding this to much of the West, including the UK.
Homeopathy is available in Bristol here at the Natural Health Clinic with the practitioner Lyn Clark. Additionally, a new service will soon be starting at the clinic; Homeopathy for All. This will be an effort to reduce the costs involved in seeking treatment to ensure everyone can benefit from the therapy.