A lot of older people nowadays opt to have the flu vaccine before winter sets in. While it does reduce your statistical risk of getting flu, it can only prevent the strains of flu included in the vaccine, so it’s a bit of a lottery; and it certainly won’t stop you getting colds.
Freya North Is Cycling From Whitehaven To Tynemouth Coast-To-Coast 22 September 2017- 24th September 2017
I am publishing this article on the website to help author Freya North raise funds for Beating Bowel Cancer. Below is Freya's account of why she is doing this cycle ride.
Are you confused about these? You’re not the only one. So here is a very simple breakdown of the facts.
Our society often seems to have become dependent on the medical profession. We increasingly expect to see a doctor with an ailment and come away with a prescription that will hopefully miraculously heal our condition. It has not always been so of course.
There’s a lot of focus on healthy gut bacteria these days, and how we can achieve and maintain a healthy balance. And that, of course, creates an opportunity for the supplement makers. But how useful are the products they sell?
I've been on an emotional roller coaster since my last post. Out of the blue came a series of visual disturbances that I convinced myself were TIAs (transient ischaemic attacks or mini strokes)
As a general rule, if you have a healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and protein, you should be getting enough of most nutrients the old-fashioned way, as part of the food you eat.
Are you tired of being browbeaten about what you should or shouldn’t eat?
We’ve all got the message that too much sugar is bad for us, and food manufacturers are spending small fortunes looking for substitutes, or hiding the fact that there is still plenty of sugar in their products.
It’s unusual nowadays to reach your seventies without taking at least one prescribed medication on a regular basis, and one tends to lead to another.
‘My child has earache/stomachache/nettle rash’. ‘I’ve burnt myself/cut myself/pulled a muscle’. These are the sort of first aid issues that people call about; not serious enough to go to the doctor, but needing attention right now.
This debate will run and run. Where fruit and vegetables are concerned, the consensus seems to be that there is not much difference where nutritional value is concerned.
There’s an enormous amount of research going on into the various forms of dementia right now.
Did you know that June 14th is World Blood Donor Day? We are all encouraged to present ourselves at our nearest centre.
A recent study has backed up the traditional use of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) as an aid to memory – and Holland and Barrett reports a huge surge in demand as a result.
Yes, it’s another garden nuisance, growing like crazy at the moment, flowering and setting seed almost before you have time to blink. But like a lot of vigorous weeds, it has benefits to offer us.
If you’re a gardener, you probably think that Couch Grass (Agropyron repens) is just a nightmare.
It’s a very confusing picture. In the first place, a lot of the foods we call ‘nuts’ are not nuts at all in the botanical sense: you probably know that about peanuts, but it’s also true of almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts.
Hotter Hereford Store Manager Jan Paton probably never considered herself inspirational, but when she sent us a photo of her latest craft creations we knew there was a very special story to be discovered.
Right now, Devon is full of primroses. The common primrose, Primula vulgaris, is one of those early spring flowers, like sweet violet and coltsfoot, that have a particular virtue in soothing coughs and sore throats.
I talked last week about acid reflux, and the medications that are often used to control it.
There’s an interesting new piece of research just out.
Hay fever season is almost upon us.
In just a short time, my beloved husband has gone from someone who hasn’t had a day’s sickness for many, many years, didn’t go to the doctors’ unless there was no alternative and wouldn’t even take headache tablets unless absolutely necessary, to someone who now takes eight tablets a day and will have to do so for the rest of his life.
A useful tool in social work (and indeed in life) is to be able to hold an assortment of different versions of reality in your head at the same time. And that is what is going on here in New Normal land at the moment.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how transplanting bacteria from a healthy person’s gut to someone suffering from irritable bowel or other digestive problems can dramatically improve their health.
Two of my patients went to see their GPs last week, one for back pain and one for digestive problems. Both were sent away with prescriptions for antidepressants.
So this is the new way to live forever, according to the latest guidelines.
It’s a thing we all worry about these days, as we get older, and it’s now overtaken heart attacks as a major cause of death in the UK.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Though of course, people are less likely to need aphrodisiacs in spring, when the sap is rising and – as the joke goes – ‘young men’s fancy turns to what young women have been thinking of all year’.
No, it’s not about drinking two litres of water every day; I hope that myth has now been thoroughly busted.
For a lot of people, the first step into herbal medicine is when they get fed up with HRT or antidepressants or whatever, and try to find something in the herb world that will do the job without the side-effects.
Starting to feel the cold? Now is the time when the lovely warming spices come into their own: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice.
Hippocras: the clue is in the name. It’s basically mulled wine, but the quantities of spices that go into it are enough to give it real medicinal qualities.
In social work we used to do '6-month Reviews' where we cast our eyes back at where we had come from and where we seemed to have landed up. (Other definitions are available!)
Of course, it comes around every year, but the cycle of feasting followed by ‘detox’, or insane overconsumption of rich foods and then complete abstinence, just when you need some solid sustenance to get you through the winter, is neither good for man nor beast.
You could not make it up. Already I was writing the headline. 'Cancer victim in midst of chemotherapy served eviction notice two weeks before Christmas.'
0800: Wake up and realise that I am half blind. Put on specs. Now only quarter blind. Right eye is glued shut and red and puffy and dribbly. Yeugh.
Armour on, weapons primed, bullets at the ready, let battle commence, because cancer is aggressive and sometimes deadly and there is a fight to be fought.
The NHS designated 14th-20th November as National Self-Care Week.
Och, and it was all going so well! Three chemo sessions called FEC successfully under my belt, some tiredness, temporary steroid-based insomnia, but only in the few days after each treatment.
I’m looking out at Exeter Cathedral Green on a fine autumn day.
‘Coffee gives you heart attacks, but tea makes you live forever’ ‘Caffeine is addictive and leads to nervous exhaustion’ ‘I’m useless without my two cups in the morning’ …and so on and so forth.
Chemotherapy and good side effects are not usually discussed in the same sentence but one unexpected outcome of an elephantine infusion of toxic and unpronounceable drugs has been that after fifteen years without it I have regained my sense of smell!
'Grief! Why are people baking bloody Victoria Sponges and cupcakes to pay for a MacMillan nurse? Aaaargh!
If you’re making jack-o-lanterns for Hallowe’en this year, you’ll end up with a lot of pumpkin flesh and seeds.
If the seeds are the part of the plant you’re interested in, it’s best to harvest them when they are fully ripe – any time from early autumn until the first frosts.
HAIR. My hair was fuzzy black when I was born and stuck upwards like a bush-baby.
Mushrooms are springing up in every woodland in Britain right now.
There’s a gorgeous display of hawthorn berries in the hedgerows lately; a heart-lifting sight as we move towards winter.
I am waiting for my chemotherapy to start. There are five more sleeps until Friday.
Has anybody been watching ‘The Doctor who gave up Drugs’?
Everyone loves an operation. There are hospital anecdotes and scars and dressings and legitimate afternoon naps.
It’s definitely autumn all of a sudden.
Slowly, reluctantly, I battled my way out of the unnaturally deep and glorious sleep that is a general anaesthetic.
‘Oh, I’d love to grow herbs for a living!’ I hear that a lot.
Which left exactly seventeen days to live through.
I’m in southern France this week, at the end of a biscuit-dry summer.
The day for biopsy results came. It was mild and sunny in Perthshire so I carried my bike down the two flights of stairs and cycled uphill through the city to the hospital.
I'm now officially part of the gang. My sixtieth birthday was in the middle of August and although I stopped celebrating them years ago, I made an exception this year because it was time for me to become a Crone.
So you’ve come home with a basket full of berries, or roots, or fungi. What do you do with them? Unless you’re going to use them straight away (see ‘Making herb teas’), you’ll need to preserve them somehow.
I love Gerona Airport. It is small and perfectly formed with decent eating options, and direct flights from Glasgow, even if the last shuttle bus into the city centre sneaked away twenty minutes before the aforementioned flight from Glasgow landed.
‘At least you know you’re safe with herbs,’ patients sometimes say. But it’s not always true.
Image copyright Pukka Herbs
‘If it tastes bad it must be good for you.’ I never hear that from younger patients, but older ones remember being dosed with all sorts of unpleasant concoctions, back in the days before medicines came in capsules, or disguised with colours and flavourings.
Walking along the Thames from Hampton Court to Richmond yesterday, it was interesting to see what flourishes along the riverbank.
Foxgloves are everywhere just now, along hedgerows and field margins, on disturbed ground and wood banks.
Photo copyright Tina K Burton
A patient this week has been helping her grandson prepare for his domestic science GCSE exams. What has he got to cook on the day?
All the roses are in bloom now, from tiny tormentil to the full-blown hybrids in your garden.
BBC2’s Food Detectives - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07bk7fy - investigated the claim last week that eating chilli can help you lose weight.
It’s hayfever time again. You can have allergic reactions at any time of year, but grass and other pollens are definitely one of the most common things to set us off. Anything from itchy eyes and a runny nose to a full-blown asthma attack can result.
Photo copyright Twinings
You might think that one herb tea is very much like another, but you could be missing out on their potential to improve your wellbeing.
A friend walking along a high ridge. Photo copyright Cathie Hartigan
Walking on high ground, as I did this week, takes you back in time. There were sweet violets, newly sprouting nettles in the shelter of walls, brave low-growing dandelions and wind-sculpted hawthorn trees just coming into leaf.
Photo copyright D & S Books
The cool wet spring has given us a bumper crop of goosegrass this year. You might know it as cleavers, or sticky willie, from its habit of sticking to clothes or animal fur.
February was a bad time for me health-wise. I was already suffering from a tight chest and a virus that wouldn’t surrender; giving me the lung capacity of a punctured bicycle tyre.
Herbs are not much good at pain relief. That’s to say, really powerful analgesic herbs, like the Opium Poppy, are not legally available in the UK.
Magnolia, in its many forms from the low-growing stars of Magnolia stellata to the delicate goblets of Magnolia liliflora, is gracing our gardens right now.
Yes, I may have mentioned sugar once or twice before. No apologies for that; it’s taken centre stage in the last few years as the pantomime villain in the greathealth drama. Like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, it seduces you with sweetness, fattens you up and then, suddenly, you’re the one being devoured.