Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Some festive Remedies!

I generally offer advice to my patients on healthy living, but I know it’s also important to have fun and let your hair down occasionally – so here is some holistic help for some of the ailments that come up over the festive season.

A particular favourite with my patients is the homeopathic remedy Nux vomica, which many people use to help with the symptoms of a hangover. We all know it's not healthy to drink too much alcohol, but from time to time, we do it anyway. Nux vomica works in most cases, no need to take time off work!

 Nux Vomica picture from the Natural History Museum site

Remember that homeopathic remedies are always prescribed according to a specific set of symptoms, and in most cases, different people will need different remedies for the same ailment, because their symptoms and how they experience them, will differ. But, in the case of Nux vomica, it perfectly fits the symptoms of a hangover in most people.

For long standing or chronic ailments, it's important to see a practitioner, but there are other homeopathic remedies which might help with minor symptoms of over indulgence over the festive period:

Nux vomica: this is known as “the hangover” remedy but can also be used for the general symptoms of over-indulgence. Symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, and nausea, a headache, sensitivity to noise and light, and irritability. Particularly suits people who tend to burn the candle at both ends, who keep going with coffee and feel the cold.

Arsenicum: this remedy comes into play when the symptoms are like that of food poisoning, with vomiting and diarrhoea, loss of colour in the face and anxiety. Could also be used when the diarrhoea is anxiety-induced, worse at night with burning in the stomach and a desire to sip water. It suits restless people who are fearful worriers, need to plan and feel the cold.

Sulphur: symptoms include smelly diarrhoea which drives the patient from bed in the morning, excessive sweating, and burning feet. Suits stubborn people who need praise, worry about their health, can be peevish with lots of big ideas they find difficult to actualise. They crave sugar and spicy food.

Lycopodium: symptoms include bloating with wind, a huge appetite, and waking as if from a fright. There is heartburn with sour burping. Suits fearful people lacking in confidence who don't like undertaking new things. But can be bragging and assertive at home.

Arnica: this is a great remedy to help with bruising and that “battered” feeling you get after last-minute Christmas shopping or bargain hunting in the January sales!

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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Now for some science... Montagnier video

Don't be scared.. here's some science!

I recently went to London for a workshop run by Dr Alex Tournier of the Homeopathy Research Institute. He was talking about the science and evidence for homeopathy and it was a facinating and enlightening day. 

One of the research papers our critics always throw at us is the Shang paper in the Lancet which was a major meta-analysis of 110 randomized, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy  compared with similar trials of conventional medicines. When it was published in 2005 The Lancet heralded it as marking the end of homeopathy. I suspect very few of the people who talk about it have actually read it. The whole article talks about the fact that results of homeopathic and conventional trials were comparable, then the final paragraph on the results section and the discussion say exactly the opposite. It was denounced by many, many people for the lack of transparency (it took a year for the authors to say which studies that had used) and the headline conclusion was based on only 14 papers (8 homeopathy and 6 conventional medicine) and illustrated data dredging and statistical manipulation of the worst kind.

These two graphs come from that paper. The top graph is homeopathy trials, bottom one is conventional medicine ones. All you really need to know is that if the spots are to the left of the vertical line the effects were better than would be expected from a placebo.The further left the spots, the better the outcome. I think anyone would agree, both graphs look pretty similar and the majority of points in both are to the left of the line which shows the treatments were effective. The nearer the top of the graph the spots are, the more precise the outcomes were.

See here for Studying the Studies: Meta Analysis an HRI newsletter which discusses the Shang paper and the other 5 meta analysis papers which showed homeopathy was effective.

Many articles were published as a response to the Shang paper, I think this one is very clear and to the point. Domenico Mastrangelo, The Growth of a Lie and the End of 'Conventional' Medicine He is not a homeopath, but an Italian ophthalmologist from Siena who is curious about water structure and the possible mechanisms which might explain the actions of homeopathic remedies.

If you would like to know more about the academic research in homeopathy a large number of full papers are available on this homeopathy knol website 

Alex also talked about some of the work of Luc Montagnier which has been very controversial. He won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his research on HIV and retro-viruses and then in 2009 published a paper entitled 'Electromagnetic signals are produced by aqueous nanostructures derived from bacterial DNA sequences' - this paper generated a barrage of abuse and criticism from the scientific community and he has now left Europe to continue his research in China.

This video is a discussion of his research and the implication for life and science in general. It is pretty academic in places but I urge you to watch the first 10 minutes where Montagnier's experiments, and the reason for the controversy surrounding them, are very clearly explained in cartoon form. They are extremely similar in many respects to the work of the late Jacques Benveniste. I'll write more about him in a later blog.

Bill Gray's book Homeopathy: Science or Myth is an excellent and clear guide to the experiments of Benveniste and other ultra-low dilution research if you would like to find out more about the subject. It was published in 2000 so doesn't contain Montagnier's work. It does have a lot of science in there but is explained very clearly. Some of the pages are available to view on Amazon.

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Homeopathy Day in Bentham

Sole to Soul, Grasmere Drive, Bentham
Saturday 26th November 10am-4pm

I will talk briefly about the history and evidence for homeopathy and also show you how remedies are made. This will not be a lecture where I talk at you for hours, I would like people to share their experiences of homeopathic treatment and learn from each other as well as from me.

The main aim of the day is to introduce you to some commonly used homeopathic remedies and give examples of when they might be used. At the end of the day you should feel comfortable with first aid prescribing for injuries, bites, fevers and common illnesses like chicken pox, colds and flu.

Feedback from a previous course from Sophie in Settle..

I attended Jo’s Homeopathic First Aid course last year and following it feel much more confident about using homeopathy on myself and my family. Jo has an astounding ability to retain information in great detail and can explain these facts in a way that is clear and easy to understand. 

Cost is £20 for the day. Colour handouts and refreshments will be provided but please bring some food to share for lunch. 
If you are coming to the course and would like one of these homeopathic first aid kit from Ainsworths then contact me, the kits contain 42 remedies in glass vials and an excellent self help booklet.   

Please note this offer is only available to course participants.

These usually cost £42 each but if I buy in bulk I can get them at a greatly reduced rate. Phone me on 07932 159099 or email me on if you would like one.

Payment for the kits (£28 per kit) must be received at least a week before the course and please specify which kit you want.

The general first aid kit contains a selection of remedies to cover injuries, headaches, common illnesses, hayfever and much more. 

A Mother and Baby Kit is also available - this  is specifically designed to help parents through the emotional and physical challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and baby/infant stages, right through to age seven.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Quarterly newsletter - sign up here

I've finally got round to doing an electronic newsletter.I have been doing a paper one for a while but many people said they would prefer an email version that they could easily send on to friends. So.. I have been tinkering about with MailChimp and this is the result. Click here or on the picture for the current version

If you aren't on the mailing list and would like to be, sign up below, if you'd like the paper and snail mail version, just give me a call.  

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Research papers and where to find them - Part 1

If you are interested in finding more out about the research into homeopathy and looking at the original research papers you may not know where to start so here are some tips. These are things I have found helpful but there are others. Will write more on other resources soon.

Pile of Papers from jepoirrier flickr site

If you work in a university or hospital then you will almost certainly have access to a whole host of journals through your employer – if so, that’s fine – off you go. If not, have a look at these. Google scholar is a good place to start – also helpful tips on search terms - if there is a full text version available it will come up as an option.

Pub Med Central is a growing collection of free research papers in a wide variety of topics. Includes many complementary medicine journals.

There are some homeopathy sites with full papers on. Some of the papers are pretty technical and it may feel like it’s another language and so have a look at these first and see how you get on.

The International Journal of High Dilution research is the first full free open-access electronic journal specialising in the multidisciplinary field of High Dilution (HD) research. lots of articles on analytical research, plant, veterinary, pharmacological studies as well as literature reviews and much more.
Nancy Malik has a Wordpress blog where she has put .pdf files containing about 200 full research papers on a variety of homeopathic related topics. It is broken down into sections on basic fundamental research, high dilution research and clinical research.

Aude Sapere is another useful source of information.  This is an Indian site run by Dr Saurav Arora - several full papers but also sections on research methodology - haven't read through the whole site but seems to have lots of info on research methods in general and a useful table with research papers. Lots of plant and cell based stuff on here too.

Dana Ullman has written an epic tome – have a look at his website.
Homeopathic Family Medicine - Connecting Research to Quality Homeopathic Care. This is an e book of over 330 pages - you can download about 100 pages as a free sample to see if you want to buy the whole thing. You can buy the e version as a one time purchase or can buy it with updates for a little bit more. Part 2 of the book contains a comprehensive A-Z of conditions and summarises the research available, and, if appropriate, suggests some remedies that may be helpful for these conditions. This is very clear and easy to read and very well referenced so if you feel intimidated by the technical stuff in the academic papers this is an excellent resource. As new research is coming out all the time he updates this 3 or 4 times a year to include the latest research findings.

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Friday, 7 October 2011

A walk in the Dale

This is really just some pictures taken on a walk I did with my husband a couple of weeks ago. We really are very fortunate to live in the Yorkshire Dales and have all this spectacular scenery on our doorstep.

We headed from home to Feizor to the wonderful Elaine's Tea Rooms which serves fantastic homemade cakes and enormous pots of tea, ideal for thirsty walkers. Due to a bit of bad planning on our part, we got their just too late for lunch and so just had to have lots of cake instead! From there, the plan was to go and have a bit of a wander in Oxenber Woods. In May the woods are a riot of colour with bluebells, wild orchids, primroses, cowslips, violets and much more. Here is a picture of Oxenber on an earlier visit with the bluebells in all their glory.

There aren't so many flowers in September but the old trees and ferns are wonderful any time of year, so we thought we'd go for a wander, however, when we got to the stile leading to the woods - this was what greeted us!

There were several very hairy cows all munching away quite happily on the long grass, one was having a very energetic scratch on the information board so we decided to leave them in peace and head for Helwith Bridge. It was a glorious day and this was the view as we looked down the track with Penyghent in the distance.  

From Helwith Bridge we walked up and over the hills to Stainforth and back home through the old limekilns at Langcliffe. Have a look at this blog post from Out of Oblivion for some history of the well preserved Hoffman kiln.

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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Homeopathy Around The World

'Making A Difference: Homeopathy Around The World' is a film project from Carol Boyce who has been travelling the world talking to patients and people working on projects in Cuba, Mexico, Haiti, Nepal, UK, and various African countries: Ghana, Benin, Kenya, Swaziland and Tanzania. Here is a short film of some of the people she has met so far.

For more info about what Carol is up to and some more short videos and interviews with homeopaths and other health related stories have a look at the Something to Say Productions website.

On a similar vein - check out this great video from Tanzanian rapper Rayms B, extolling the virtues of Jeremy Sherr and the Homeopathy for Health in Africa Project and guaranteed to get you dancing around!  


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Friday, 2 September 2011

Tear gas, onions, homeopathy and Mark Thomas

When all the uprisings in the Middle East started earlier in the year I saw a news clip of a protester in Manama in Bahrain being interviewed by the Pearl roundabout. He said something like 'We are peaceful protesters, we have no weapons, all we have to protect us from the tear gas are these onions.'

Strange as it may seem, that sounded quite homeopathic to me. I asked a few friends to see if they had heard that sort of story before. One who used to live in South Africa said it was well known when she lived there that protesters would carry onions because if they sniffed them the tear gas had no effect on them.

Red Onion Slice from photobunny on flickr

Just having a quick look on wikipedia about tear gas 
Tear gas, formally known as a lachrymatory agent or lachrymator (from lacrima meaning "a tear" in Latin), is a non-lethal chemical compound that stimulates the corneal nerves in the eyes to cause tearingpain, and even blindness. Common lachrymators include OCCS,CRCNnonivamidebromoacetonephenacyl bromidexylyl bromide and syn-propanethial-S-oxide (from onions). 

syn-Propanethial S-oxide (C3H6OS) is a gas that acts as a lachrymatory agent (triggers tearing and stinging on contact with the eyes). The chemical is released from onionsAllium cepa, as they are sliced. 

From a homeopathic perspective this isn't as strange as it sounds. If you chop up a strong onion it is likely to make your eyes and nose run and may make you sneeze. A remedy made from red onion, allium cepa, is one we commonly use for people with some types of hayfever with lots of sneezing and watery eyes. What seems to happen is that a remedy made from a small amount of onion triggers your body to deal with the symptoms. So a large amount of exposure to onion (or tear gas) will produce symptoms but a very small amount of onion, either from a remedy or just from sniffing an onion, can trigger your body to deal with those symptoms.

The comedian Mark Thomas has been around for a while and I'm a big fan of his. He has always been outspoken about controversial issues in his live shows and TV programmes. For a flavour of what he does have a look at this old episode of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product where he goes on a trip to the Defendory International arms fair to meet a few dictators and arms dealers. He has a stall there pretending to be from a PR company offering media training to help regimes create a more positive message about human rights, wife beating, torture etc.

You may well ask - what has Mark got to do with homeopathy, onions and tear gas?

More recently Mark decided he would go for a bit of a walk. Not the usual sort of walk up a hill or along a coastal path that most people might do. Mark decided he'd like to go for a walk along the entire length of the Israeli Separation Barrier along the disputed territory between Israel and Palestine. He is touring the UK until the end of September talking about his experiences on his 'Extreme Rambling - Walking the Wall' tour. A friend caught his show at Glastonbury where he mentioned he was given an onion to sniff by some Palestinians who were in disputed territory and regularly had tear gas used on them.. and it worked..  an example of homeopathy in action!

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Open Day at Sole to Soul on 7th September

Lots happening all day 

Bring a friend who is new to Sole to Soul and you BOTH get £5 off ANY treatment

10.00am Welcome
10.30am Relaxation Techniques to Still the Mind with Marie
11.00am A Tale of Two Slippers
Viv’s story of Mind, Consciousness and Thought
11.30am Helping Yourself with Jo’s Homeopathy
12.00noon Mediation Session with Tracey
12.30pm Sole to Soul´s Open Forum and “Ask a Therapist”
1.30pm First Aid with Herbal Medicine by Amanda
2.00pm Stories our Bones Can Tell with Matthew
2.30pm Journey Therapy, the Power of Cellular Healing with Sarah
3.00pm Treasure Hunt
3.45pm Raffle Draw &  Prizes

Sample Alison’s Freshly Cooked Savouries - Living Foods available 11-2pm

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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

How To Build Community

How many of these things do you do? We do a lot more since we got rid of our TV!

I came across this when a friend posted it on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing. It comes from the Falcon Heights Neighborhood Liaison Handbook from Falcon Heights, Minnesota. 

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Monday, 8 August 2011

Courgette surplus?

When I was young mum always grew courgettes on her allotment and some years they just kept on coming. We'd deliver some to all the neighbours but there comes a point when everyone has had enough. So .. then it was time to experiment!.

 Photo from botogol on flickr

These are some of my favourite courgette recipes - the courgette is well disguised so you can convince yourself it's something else or get your kids to eat it!

I can't actually remember where these have come from so apologies for not giving credit to the original creators.

Banana and Courgette Cake
8oz plain wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Bicarb of soda
1 tsp salt
8oz soft brown sugar
1oz walnuts or pecans
1oz sultanas
2 whole ripe mashed bananas
3 large eggs
8oz finely grated courgette
5 fl oz sunflower oil


Sift flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar, nuts and sultanas.
Mix well, then add mashed banana and beaten eggs. Stir in grated courgette and oil.
Beat the mixture thoroughly for one minute.
Butter or line with greaseproof paper, a 9in cake tin or large loaf tin.
Put mixture in and bake for 1 hour at gas mark 4 (350f/175c) until a skewer comes out clean.

Courgette and feta fritters
900g/2lb courgettes, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
bunch spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp chopped dill
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
3 free-range eggs
1 tbsp paprika
225g/8oz feta cheese
225g/8oz plain flour
Oil for deep frying
slices lemon, to garnish

1. Sprinkle the courgette with salt and allow to drain for 20 minutes.
2. Place the grated courgette in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water. Mix with the onions, dill, parsley, eggs, paprika and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Work in the feta cheese and flour.
4. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan. It is ready when a breadcrumb that is dropped in will sizzle gently in it.
5. Carefully fry tablespoons of the mixture in the hot oil until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels. Garnish with slices of lemon and serve immediately.

These fritters are really tasty with a tomato salsa and salad. 

Courgette and Spinach Soup 
4oz Spinach
1 large courgette
1 medium potato
1 onion
Olive oil
3/4pt vegetable stock
Pinch of nutmeg

Fry onion in olive oil, until soft.  Add diced potato and sliced courgette. Fry for further 5mins.  Add spinach, stock, nutmeg and parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 20 minutes then whizz using hand blender. Add cream or milk if required.

I came across the wonderful The Boxing Clever Cookbook: Twelve Recipe Books in One a while ago when I was working for an organic veg co-op. It has a huge number of unusual and tasty recipes for people who don't know what to do with their weekly veg box or who have a glut of veg in the garden or allotment. Includes  kale pesto, parsnip cake, satay sprouts, stuffed mini pumpkins and many more.

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Friday, 5 August 2011

Carnivorous plants, homeopathy and Darwin

Blue tit in pitcher plant - BBC

Pitcher plants are one of a group of carnivorous plants which use variety of tactics to trap and 'dissolve' insects or larger things for food. They have various methods of trapping and devouring their dinner and if you are curious have a look at the International Carnivorous Plant Society for lots more photos and info. 

You might be surprised to learn that we use remedies made from some of these peculiar carnivorous plants in homeopathy and in herbal medicine.  

A remedy made from the whole Sundew (drosera rotundiflora) plant has been used for over 200 years in homeopathy to treat respiratory problems. It was mentioned in herbal medical texts from as early as the 12th century where an Italian doctor, Matthaeus Platearius described the plant as a treatment for coughs. It has been used in herbalism for hundreds of years for spasmodic coughs, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. Culpeper mentions that the juice from the plant was used to remove warts and corns and that ladies used a mix of the juice with milk for skin to reduce freckles and relieve sunburn.

Close up of Sundew (Drosera Rotundiflora) leaf

The chemical composition of sundew perhaps sheds light on some of the medicinal properties. The plant contains high levels of various flavonoids and in particular quercetin which is the subject of a great deal of research especially looking at inflammation and allergies. 

Here are a couple of examples of current research into its properties

Anti-inflammatory and spasmolytic activity of extracts from Droserae herba

Drosera is also interesting because Charles Darwin did some work and found that very dilute solutions of ammonia salts had an effect on the leaves. Darwin is also known to have been treated by a homeopath and more about this can be found in Dana Ullman's Huffington Post article The surprising story of Charles Darwin and his Homeopathic Doctor  

From the botanists perspective have a look at Talking Plants blog on the Drosera and Darwin story

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