Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
The Times view on the Society of Homeopaths withdrawing from the watchdog’s list of healthcare providers: Beyond the Fringe
Campaigners for good science have scored a victory against homeopathy
Monday August 16 2021, 12.01am, The Times
Campaigners for good science are serving the public interest by exposing the bogus methods of homeopathy
Really?? Serving the public interest by dismissing a system of medicine that helps by reducing dependency on pharmaceutical interventions? I was with a pharmacist friend of mine today who told me it's shocking the amount of medication some of her clients are on, and the more she learns, the more she wants to get them off the meds (and is frequently able to do so). Frequently patients are able to reduce medication or handle side effects better when using homeopathy. What public interest is there in removing that?
The pandemic has cost millions of lives and spread immense hardship. It does not make light of this disaster to observe that it might have been far worse but for the efforts of scientists. Researchers managed, in little more than a year, to independently develop several vaccines to a novel coronavirus whose origins even now are hotly debated.
Yes. Well done scientists. But seriously anything to do with this article?
The procedures that scientists follow, by experiment and the accumulation of evidence, are vital to health and wellbeing. And the medical profession has a particular responsibility to ensure that treatments that pass no scientific test are clearly marked as such. It is a victory for science and sense that an organisation called the Society of Homeopaths has withdrawn from a register of healthcare providers kept by the government health watchdog, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
I refer you back to the blog before this one where the pie chart is shown from the industry. It makes interesting viewing when read in association with the above paragraph.
The society was given accreditation by the PSA in 2014, but this was suspended in January after the rules were amended to include a public interest test. The test was designed to assess whether the evidence in favour of a form of treatment outweighed the risks of administering it. The society says that it is withdrawing because the fees of registration with the PSA are too high. Regardless of the motive, its decision helps dispel any public confusion between the treatments devised by medical science and the superstitious nostrums that are sold under the label of homeopathy. No one seeks to shut down homeopaths from practising, but public authorities have a duty to tell the truth about their methods and remedies.
I do really love this latest sentence. The Good Thinking Society, if you take a look at their campaigns, certainly seem hell-bent on this mission. And as to truth, agreed - but how many of us have the slightest idea on so many things. Referring to the blog above again. Reading this you wouldn't think also that until very recently no one could tell you how anaesthesia worked, just that it did. Or also that there are plenty of medics - doctors, nurses, as well as pharmacists, who've found their way into working with homeopathy.
Whereas modern medicine is generally held to date from the second half of the 19th century, with the germ theory of disease, homeopaths trace their inspiration to the theories of one Samuel Hahnemann at the end of the 18th century. He hypothesised that a substance that produced symptoms similar to an ailment could cure that ailment, and that this effect could be amplified by heavily diluting the substance. There is no evidence in support of this theory. Homeopathic remedies have no active substance and, if they have any benefit at all, it is as a placebo. Placebos are dummy medicines which may have a therapeutic effect in providing psychological reassurance to a patient.
Well... another brilliant paragraph. There's lots to address here. Dr Samuel Hahnemann was indeed the inspiration behind homeopathy. In terms of like curing like, I believe that one went back to Paracelsus, Shakespeare also discusses the concept in one of his plays, and modern medicine is working with the like cures like theory in several ways - e.g. Ritalin, a stimulant for use in people experiencing ADHD, others self medicated with coffee, another stimulant. Peanuts to help alleviate peanut allergy is another interesting one.
Heavily diluting the substance - here in homeopathy, we need the succussion as well - the shaking of the substances too. It's fair to say it sounds a little crazy, until you start to look at the evidence, and those in support of the evidence, ranging again from the everyday homeopath, the mum who sees it working before her eyes, the child who observes the instant changes in a sick dog after a remedy was administered, to the medics, to the Nobel Prize winners who are experimenting with it. And seeing that heavily diluted is not nothing.
Placebo is an effect with everything - but the placebo effect is recorded as being around 30%. In trials homeopathy has shown around a 70% improvement rate. Showing it either to be more than doubly as good as 'normal placebo' or perhaps, maybe, errrr not placebo.
That is all that can be said in favour of homeopathy. It is not nothing, but neither is it medical science in any recognisable form. Nor are its methods as harmless as this description suggests.
The PSA’s public interest test was prompted by a legal challenge brought by a pressure group called the Good Thinking Society. The society sought a judicial review of the homeopaths’ registration. The challenge came none too soon. It brought attention to the fact that some members of the Society of Homeopaths had offered a form of therapy based on the entirely fallacious notion that vaccinations cause autism. The purported research behind this claim is now known to have been fraudulent, and its author, Andrew Wakefield, was struck off the medical register as a result.
Clunky. Some big twists of facts here. There's probably far too much to go into here - Andrew Wakefield, for all my research on the topic, never said that. But it's convenient - read lazy - to say so time and again, and then people start to believe it. Even during recent times my daughter had a text from her uncle to a family group chat saying it's time to remember Andrew Wakefield and the nonsense he talked. He probably was unaware of the actual research Wakefield did, which may have had issues with how it was conducted, he would, and has, said so himself, but which never drew these particular conclusions. Still, repeat a lie enough and it becomes fact, right?
Campaigners for good science are serving the public interest by exposing the bogus methods of homeopathy. However, with the many celebrity supporters that homeopathy attracts (and these famously include the heir to the throne), science is blind to social distinctions and to fame. Its methods are the best hope humans have of understanding the universe and overcoming the threats to human welfare.
Science, to my awareness, is about questioning, challenging, stretching our knowledge, not writing something off because we don't get it yet. Surely we should dive into it and find out more? Seeing changes occur within seconds, as was a recent experience with our pug X dog's eye and a dose of Euphrasia and Silica 30c is utterly remarkable and I'd love for science to be able to explain it to me fully. What I could do is write it off as placebo. But on a dog? Really? Some would say that I felt better because I'd done something about it, and that energy passed onto her*. I can assure you I've given enough incorrect remedy matches to see that placebo ain't all that's going on here.
*I can also say if that's the case then WTF - why aren't we investigating that one?!
If you're curious, it's worth checking out the Homeopathy Research Institute website, there are many scientists around the world both in support of homeopathy and researching it. I certainly think there are exciting discoveries to come.
I believe the best ways to understand the universe may not be to divide, to remove but perhaps to investigate this area with curiosity as Nobel Prize winners such as Brian Josephson, who won his award after research he did at age 22, or Luc Montagnier who discovered HIV. Have a read more about theirs, and other fascinating scientist's work here.
And listen, for goodness sake, listen to patients who have got better. Again and again using it. And who want to access it through the NHS, want to have it integrated as a part of their health service, want to look after themselves with integrated ways. Integrative medicine, including homeopathy. Not to pressure groups who seem to have created their own mission to get rid of this gentle, effective medicine.
I debated whether I wanted to write this blog. Initially I felt strongly that was what i wanted to do, to look at the drivel (my opinion of course) printed and examine each point, sharing what I believe to be facts, grounded - yes, in science. Or was it a case of 'yesterday's news, today's chip papers'? I know they usually come in those irritating polystyrene boxes now but you get the concept. Anyway, the fact you're here, as I am means I swung back to my original position. I hope I can do it credit but there is such nonsense shared that it does make me want to chat about my experience, but not just what I've seen, what's taken place in laboratory settings, clinical settings and more.
Italics is The Times, plain type is me.
Victory for campaigners as homeopaths quit healthcare watchdog
Rhys Blakely, Science Correspondent
Monday August 16 2021, 12.01am, The Times
Homeopathy is based on the notion that water retains a “memory” of ingredients that have been dissolved in it.
That could be one theory of it all. And indeed, should you be interested, the memory of water theory, backed by Nobel Prize winners such as Luc Montagnier (Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovery of HIV), is one theory. There are others. Nanoparticles as a concept is coming through as a topic of great interest in the scientific community. Probably until someone mentions homeopathy, then they run screaming... Should you be interested in more, take a look at the Homeopathy Research Institute site, in particular their talks from conferences. Interested in water? The Water Conference has many speakers from many fields of academia. It's not one to watch as you chop the veg for dinner - or at least not for me - I tried it, but have to really concentrate! An A level in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and Scientific degree in no way prepared me for the depth here!
The largest organisation for homeopaths has withdrawn from the register of healthcare providers accredited by Professional Standards Agency.
The Society of Homeopaths (SOH), which has 1,000 members, had been accredited by the PSA, the government’s healthcare watchdog, since 2014.
It decided to withdraw from the register after the rules of the accreditation scheme were changed to include a new public interest test. This weighs up whether the evidence for the benefits of any treatments outweigh any risks.
The society insisted that it was withdrawing because the PSA fees had become too expensive.
He said, she said. Who knows. But interesting for me to see about the benefits of treatment outweighing any risks. The chart produced by British Journal of Medicine’s handbook, Clinical Evidence – as orthodox a medical publication as you can hope to find on the planet, shines a light on medicine overall in terms of risks and benefits. Most haven't seen this before - funny that.
Large scale studies have shown benefits of homeopathy - and often at a lesser cost, and needing less pharmaceutical interventions. Could this be a reason it's not so popular? The EPI3 studies are worth a look at should you be interested to see further. 1, 2, 3.
Homeopathy is based on the notion that water retains a “memory” of ingredients that have been dissolved in it. Advocates, including the Prince of Wales, believe that the water can treat a variety of ailments.
Well, not so much the water as the pharmaceutically prepared medications. Prepared in a particular way, which I don't want to make sound too much like Harry Potter - but if you just pop something in water, no, it's not homeopathic. No one is claiming it is.
It has been shown that the successions of the material are relevant. Not everyone will want to explore this further, but for the science geeks out there (btw I salute you!), it may be of interest to see discover Dr Maria Olga Kokornaczyk, whose paper "Impact of succussion on pharmaceutical preparations analyzed by means of patterns from evaporated droplets" was the second most downloaded Chemistry paper in Nature journal's Scientific Reports through 2020. If you want a look it's here. Can I just say again. Nature. Not the piddly diddly journal of woo. I imagine dear writer, the author of this Times article, perhaps hadn't read that one.
And here, if you're intrigued - a wee video:
A scientific study, led by a Swiss research group, showed homeopathic arsenic to be more effective for treating poisoned duckweed than water alone. Full Text: “Effects of Homeopathic Arsenicum Album, Nosode, and Gibberellic Acid Preparations on the Growth Rate of Arsenic-Impaired Duckweed (Lemna gibba L.)” Tim Jäger, Claudia Scherr, Meinhard Simon, Peter Heusser and Stephan Baumgartner http://bit.ly/homeopathy-works
Nobel Prize winner Professor Luc Montagnier - who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for his discovery of HIV, discusses the water theory here.
Many other scientists, serious researchers and more are investigating this. We can keep ridiculing it - it's quite easy, and some may find it fun - but really - I think you'd be amazed if you started to look deeper at this substance we almost all take for granted.
The Good Thinking Society, a campaign group that promotes rational scepticism, claimed a victory after the withdrawal, arguing that there is no evidence that such remedies work.
Oh. Where to even begin. If you've not watched the videos above, have a watch now.
I guess I could waste my entire life arguing with certain people. And how they even came up with that name. Something like 'denying people access to something that works and isn't quite fully understood yet' society, could be perhaps more accurate.
The "Good Thinking Society are not without agenda, they are like this with every single alternative therapy. They want the pure drug approach. In my opinion, the drug approach is great. Until it isn't. Until you run out of options, or as in our case, the options cause harm - and you run out of options. How many come off medications due to finding alternatives? Quite a lot - when they know about them. We met a chap in the river the other day who, with dietary changes and cold water swimming, had come off 5 of his 7 medications. And was so happy about it. There are many options out there, gradually being taken away from individuals. For no positive reason.
But still, kicking away the soap box, there are more worthwhile ways to spend my time. There is evidence on top of evidence that homeopathic remedies work. Lab, clinical and real world experience. There may not be a defining 'how' it works. I won't argue with that. My feeling is we'll be there in another 5-10 years, perhaps sooner, but that it works, I have no question. I do love the mentions of it that say, we can't understand how it works so clearly it can't.
I honestly can't tell you how my car works, much as I love it with its big sunroof. Or remember how the light appears after I flick the switch on the wall. And I'm always amazed to hear we've only just discovered the mechanism of how anaesthesia works. But we've been using it for years I hear you cry. Yes.
The PSA registration rules changed after Good Thinking brought a judicial review in 2019 of the authority’s decision to accredit the SOH. Good Thinking had argued that practitioners who offer unproven therapies should not be accredited. It had also highlighted how some SOH members had offered Cease therapy — a supposed cure for autism that relies on the debunked idea that it can be caused by vaccinations.
Cure for is something no one is talking about. Improvement of the person's health, whatever they are experiencing, is an aim for the homeopath. Who knows what cure is? Our horse, who'd been on steroid injections and anti-inflammatories for several years, was deteriorating in health due to the meds and we were told removal of her eye could be a next logical step. Seeking instead homeopathic treatment, her eye disease never returned again. We were told she was in remission by the conventional vets (those who wished to take out her eye as it was the only way to be relieved of her eye disease). That remission lasted the rest of her life. Cure? Who cares. She got better and remained that way.
Cease stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression. Often targeted at children, the therapy includes homeopathic treatments, extremely high doses of vitamin C and dietary restrictions.
In March last year the PSA imposed conditions in effect banning SOH members from practising Cease therapy and making any claims regarding vaccination. Its accreditation was suspended in January.
CEASE has been a challenge to many - and probably the name isn't great - albeit my belief is that it was never a promise, more an aim. "Targeted at children" is an interesting phrase, mostly children who were struggling with symptoms of autism whose parents wanted to help could be more explanatory. CEASE also was way bigger than just vaccination - which really was a tiny aspect, but has been blown up by those wanting to negatively associate homeopathy and homeopaths with this area. I think it's always more interesting to go back to base and see what something is about from the horse's mouth, instead of those with interests to decimate something. Their website has several blogs from parents - not practitioners - who explain their experiences using CEASE.
Michael Marshall, project director of Good Thinking, said: “When we first brought our legal challenge in 2019, we argued that the PSA’s logo is used by therapists as a sign that they are competent, trustworthy and safe, but that the logo and the accreditation scheme only carries any meaning if the PSA takes seriously their duty to protect the public from harmful practices.”
If I'm entirely honest here, I'm not sure that I would ever seek out a PSA therapist - or at least not strive to do so - most of my patients find me through word of mouth - their friend or family member has been helped and they wish to see if homeopathy can help them. The logo doesn't fill me with confidence for any practitioner, mainstream or alternative. I want a practitioner who has studied, who understands health and dis-ease and can work with me. A logo doesn't make a difference to that. And not one that can be so distorted by negative thinking.
He said he hoped the new rules would prevent “practitioners of unproven or disproven therapies from receiving the tacit endorsement of the government’s healthcare regulator”.
Can I refer you back to the conventional medical 'pie chart' here? But also - the 'government's healthcare regulator', when searching what does PSA stand for, it doesn't come into the 258 acronyms listed on the free dictionary of acronyms. There is however, the Penguin Secret Agency (a gaming clan).
Which isn't to say the PSA doesn't exist, but if I surveyed my friends, I doubt any, aside from those involved in homeopathy would ever have heard of them. So to make a huge fuss over what a small agency has done is particularly interesting.
An SOH spokeswoman said the society and its members had put “tremendous efforts” into addressing the PSA’s concerns.
“Following the suspension of our accreditation in January 2021, we said we would take time to consider both the authority’s report and our own position,” she said. “This has since been superseded by the authority’s review of its own accreditation scheme and fee structure in the light of the proposed withdrawal of its government funding
There's no point in saying that I'd never have chosen to have joined the PSA - which I didn't, but at this stage that's like shutting the door after the horse has bolted I guess. Hindsight is great. But I do think it's important we look at what are we trying to achieve going forwards. In future, not to be paying money to a government organisation who doesn't understand us. Doesn't understand what we offer and what we do. And can be so readily influenced by those who actively wish to discredit us. With all due respect to the Society of Homeopaths, who I believe acted with all good intent, and what they felt to be the right thing, I think we have to get into bed with more authentic characters in future. Or sleep alone.
1 Homeopathic medical practice for anxiety and depression in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study
2 Utilization of psychotropic drugs by patients consulting for sleeping disorders in homeopathic and conventional primary care settings: the EPI3 cohort study
3 Management of upper respiratory tract infections by different medical practices, including homeopathy, and consumption of antibiotics in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study in France 2007-2008
I spotted this image this morning, shared by a friend of mine on Facebook. The words were unknown, but struck me, resonating with my current musings.
The last few days I've played a game. It's my 'What would Lara (Croft) do?' game. I am seriously loving it. I stand taller, things are a little more elegant - instead of feeling like a gangly giraffe - I've walked taller. I've had a kind of inner amusement, more purposeful movements. More mindful I suppose in a way. More conscious instead of just doing. Being in the present.
My game was inspired by a friend's comment and I asked if she'd write more for a blog, which is actually the bit that fully inspired me. If you've not read it, it's here.
I forget Lara all the time and just be me. But when I remember there's something quite special about it. Often I have a hurried shower, clean my teeth in there and out. When I'm playing the game, well, Lara wouldn't clean her teeth in the shower. Surely she'd do that in front of the mirror before or after with some kind of positive bad ass affirmations?
So no teeth cleaning in the shower. That's after. Or before. The bad ass bit I've just realised now, and since I'm writing this in PJs having been called downstairs by the cat's 'I'm about to be sick' noise, following my inspiration - yes I'm sure Lara would go with the flow - but probably her man servants would have sorted the cat. Or she wouldn't have one. Too messy. Anyway. A shower, noticing the water on my skin, appreciating the water as it cascades over me. Yes I do that 'oh look, I'm gorgeous' thing with my hair too. When I'm being Lara. It makes me smile, and damn it yes - makes me feel good. Instead of rushing through the shower on my way to the next thing.
I'm going to try the bad ass affirmations out this morning when I'm done here. You know - 'Thou shalt not mess with me'. 'I am strong'..... You know, that kind of thing. I'm not a big affirmation girl and tend to agree with Mark Manson - if you're standing there in front of the mirror saying 'I am beautiful' over and again it's probably because you don't feel it. I know many who love them, so please check out both thoughts and go with what fits for you - we are all so different. I'm going to play with some. And see how they go.
Play. I talk about play a lot I notice at times. I think we've forgotten the art and would say, if you're reading this, perhaps take a moment to think whether you're still playing. I love the quote...
You don't stop playing because you get old; you get old because you stop playing.
Taking on new things for me often feels like a game - a challenge, let's explore this with playful curiosity. Let's see. There is no fail, only if you don't give it a go. If you hate it, well, no worries, you tried something different. I had a slightly different view with my daughter when she'd try out a new activity, decide she loved it, got the uniform then decided after all maybe not... looking back though - great thing to get out there and try. Perhaps I was a little too quick with the uniform buying. Give it a go for a time - maybe set a month or a year or a certain number of lessons. Anyway, playing with something new I think is awesome. And life changing potentially. It has been for me. Learning to be a beginner I think is important - though not always easy, but both good for our brain and our ability to dive in, be useless (some are brilliant first time but not me) and get better.
Which brings me to my other musings for this blog, on our perception of life. We can change this so many ways - one that I see in clinic is using homeopathy - clients return, and whilst in some ways nothing has changed, in others, everything has changed. Their perception of events can shift dramatically, making life flow easier, they're often more centred, happier. But there are so many other ways. I'm playing with mindfulness and gratitude with a daily journal. Same questions morning and a similar set in the evening. Focussing on what has gone right, as well as what you can do more mindfully, and setting intentions.
An incident occurred to me on Saturday, and whilst initially I though 'gosh that's very weird' and kind of got on with things as we were hanging out with a friend, I recognised later it classed as assault. Which really shook me. To the point I slept badly, felt anxious, was really concerned about it all. It's been reported as is entirely inappropriate behaviour, and I'm OK with it now, back to my centre. But what I recognised was about the stories we tell ourselves around events. Lara would probably have shot them by now... which possibly wasn't the best comment to mention whilst reporting it. Damn, Lara would be more discrete. I'm learning. The game continues.
The stories. We can build ourselves up as victims, or we can choose not to take that role on. I'm not referring here to serious incidents, and don't want to negate anyone's experience, but I do see we do this in small ways all the time. Someone pulls out in front of us - we can go 'oh that was stupid' and move on. Or 'why does this always happen to me, everyone thinks I'm such a walkover, this is terrible'... Perhaps a slightly dramatic example but I hope you get the drift. My favourite comment I think I've mentioned before is 'isn't that interesting'. You can apply it to so much, and I think it diffuses a whole load of potential sh1t.
There's a story I keep coming upon, from one of the books I've delved into this year and have a feeling it was either Shirzad Chamine's Positive Intelligence or Mark Manson's The Simple Art of Not Giving A F***. Whichever - I recommend anyone read them both anyway.
If a man is crossing a river
I'm sure you get the point - but if you want a fuller explanation, there's a great one here by Osho.
Boundaries are important, I believe, self respect, but not taking home the story works for me too.
So back to the image I started with. I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday - on my way into my Lara shower, which does have to involve cleaning the bath so I don't break my neck on the leftover teenage conditioner. Not, I'm sure something Lady Lara Croft would have to do, but hey, with the serious lack of man servants around here... yet I clean as Lara would clean. With pride, elegance and a great posture. Ha - you don't have to only do what Lara would, you get to do anything as she would if she did. Who knows, maybe she does clean the violet conditioner blobs out of the bath tub pre shower after all.
Wow tangent. Mirror. Saggy parts of my body, somewhat child ravaged. More wrinkles than there used to be. Fat where it didn't used to be. And I looked back with love. With pride. A journey we have been on. Physical, emotional, mental. How I have grown. The two stretch marks above my belly button, from having by belly button stud at 16, then being pregnant with my daughter at 28. In the past I've regretted - if I hadn't had it pierced that'd be two less stretch marks. But yesterday, a real shift. Pride. I did that. They are reminders of my big swollen, about to burst, inny belly button had become an outy... no more space, daughter is pushing it to the very last minute (thank goodness for reflexology and homeopathy persuading her out of there!)... she still pushes it to the very last minute, but these marks, they remind me, as I write this, there is always help out there. Brilliant people are there for you, even if sometimes you don't feel it, don't see it in the moment. You can build your tribe and they will come. Call for help. So many of us forget to ask.
The breasts that had got me free beer (sorry feminist readers - it's about honesty this morning apparently and whilst I wouldn't do it now, at 21 I was all up for dancing topless on the table for a free jug of beer in Byron Bay), that had breastfed my daughter for 2 years and a month to the day. I don't regret a minute of that. So grateful for the opportunity. To breastfeed that is. The topless table dancing can do one. And whilst there'll be no beer winning (seriously, far more likely to go give them my thoughts on that idea than a view of my body now), they are a prize within themselves. A reminder of the amazingness of the human body, of my human experience. We can feed our own. I know it's out there in nature all the time, but how often do we stop and wonder at the amazingness of it? Even if we don't individually do it, should we be unable to do or should we choose not to, the fact that as a species this is possible is just remarkable. So yes, they're older. But wow - we are amazing. I am amazing.
These hips are wider than they used to be. Somehow I felt to be comparing myself to my 16 year old body... who is supposed to have that at 43? I'm still wearing the same jeans I was 14 years ago. Cut into shorts, subsequently patched and now needing some more TLC if they're to continue a little longer. I like the patching idea. We change, the wrinkles, we adapt to what we need to with the life challenges we encounter, but we are sometimes softer, more open hearted, more accepting, more colourful - well the shorts are definitely some of those, but I like the idea I may be too. More boundaried too, more accepting of what can go, what needs to go and how we will be around people. I'm not sure how my shorts that were once jeans til they wore out at the knee playing on the floor all the time with my toddler represent that. I'll work on it.
There is work I can do. There is work I want to do. I want to be fitter.. My dad at 71, is probably around the fittest he's been. Age is a number, but doesn't need to define us. But first, today, I want to appreciate, to see with love, pride, and dignity.
After all, what would Lara do?
Mentally there is work I want to do too, but, and I'm afraid I wear this with a badge of honour, when I heard myself referred to as 'the silly bitch at the end' this week in an earlier non-assault related incident, I took it and laughed, and laughed. Not fake laughter, real, bubbling up from my belly, the most delicious laughter. I can be whatever, whoever, in other's perceptions, but my bad ass monk work this year has certainly been paying off. Playing with something different has helped me grow in ways I didn't expect.
With love, Em
It's fair to say I'm a little obsessed with resilience. I've taught on it this year, I've gained more of it, lost all of it at times and am focussed on learning, growing and being more resilient, in particular this year, but all in all that's just a step in a bigger picture.
So when a friend made a comment on a Facebook post this morning, my ears pricked up and I said I'd love her to write something for a blog if she'd be happy to. Well, imagine my surprise to find a brilliant email from her just a couple of hours later. I was pondering creating a podcast to chat about resilience and lots more before seeing her initial comment this morning, and who knows - we'll see. But I really love what she says here and am super excited to share.
If you've tips, tricks and thoughts on a similar line I'd love to hear. Read on!
I love Lara
So, for as long as I can remember I’ve never really been good with heights.
I think it started from doing rock climbing at school and just never feeling safe and having a panic attack on the rocks and crying everywhere.
Over the years Ive kept forgetting this quite important bit of me and have found myself in some tricky situations.
I like to say yes to things and have adventures, so when I find myself at the top of York Eye suddenly remembering my fear of heights as the dizzy scared nausea feeling kicks in, and I start full on sobbing I remember it all over again.
The same when I wanted to get to the top of the hill to see the church that was in Mamma Mia and we had to climb these teeny tiny stairs right on a sheer drop and I was pushing grannies out the way so I could get to the top as soon as possible as I was so scared and crying.
Then there was the time when the kids were playing on some rocks (trying not to pass my fear on I let them explore) and the little darlings got stuck up high and I had to go on a one woman rescue to get them whilst crying and snotting and screaming at them as I was so scared but I had to get them down safely.
Then the game changer happened. I had said yes to doing a Go Ape experience (why why why???). I was fine with the harness and the climb but once up there I remembered again and I could feel myself start to panic and the tears of fear start. Then I somehow my brain changed. Id just watched Lara Croft tomb raider and I loved her strength and courage and intelligence and I thought, ‘I bet she could just leap through these trees’. This was my first imposter experience. I pretended I was Lara Croft. I knew I was safe as I had the harness on and I knew I actually did have the capability to do the challenges it was just the confidence I was lacking. I just played a game in my mind and pretended to feel what she would feel. Lara would feel strong. She would feel confident. She would relish the challenge. So that’s what I decided to feel. I held my head high and actually changed my stance to be lara (I don’t look like her at all but in my head I was!). I then just went all out and did it. Not only did I do it, I wanted to do it well and to do it fast and to really push myself. You know what, it bloody worked!! I flew through those trees and even went down the zip drop at the end. There were still nerves there but pushed so far back they didn’t control me anymore. Lara was the main character in this and she was tough and resilient.
Since my Lara breakthrough, ive done parachute jumps, held tarantulas, snakes, swam in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (I had a crazy shark/ megladon fear here!) and just generally been able to push myself more by borrowing the Lara character. She is now just a bit of me that I call on when I need to dig deep in a scary situation and I know I can get through these fears. This is how I worked on my being resilient.
Of course, as Ruth and I chatted later, it doesn't have to be Lara for you. It could be Martin Luther King Jnr, Mahatma Gandhi, Aristotle or any number of cartoon, real or imaginary characters.
I hate being held back by fears, and love to push myself so I'm not restricted by my mind. Sometimes though in the tough times I forget this and am super excited to have this brilliant blog by Ruth to look back on and remind myself.
Happy to feature other guest posts on resilience (or other health related issues) get in touch!
With love (and increasing resilience),
Having written the title, I'm not sure if it sounds overly dramatic, but that's what I've been musing over the past few days.
I'm not a huge 'self care' fan. Not that we shouldn't be looking after ourselves, not that we're not important, please don't get me wrong here. But we ideally build a life that we don't need to escape from. We create something that fits us well, that has our needs met as well as everyone else's. Sometimes far easier said than done. Especially, I see in practice, for women. Of course it needs to evolve with us, it's not a fixed thing and different phases there's more or less time.
So self care. I fear my dislike is because it's become popular, a term banded about 'oh you need some self care...; what self care do you do?' etc. Maybe I'm just being grumpy, but bear with. For a moment at least. It's not a plaster we can just pop on something. Not something that can fix it all...
Currently, with the news from both the mainstream, and that of the alternative thinkers - which is actually sometimes more terrifying, I feel there is some damned heavy energy out there. It's sometimes tough coping. I had a real low on Wednesday of this week, deflated, feeling defeated, flat and uninspired to do anything. My partner helped, with a 'come on, get off those channels on Telegram'. Yup. Definitely guilty of devouring anything I can, in an attempt to understand, to know. To act. To educate. But seeing how destructive those urges can be, sitting in a beautiful outdoor space, knowing my need to connect with nature is huge right now.
And not in a superficial 'I need to connect with nature' way I guess. Not like a plaster I can slap on and it'll all be OK. This is long term. I need to immerse myself. Mostly I currently need to swim. The temperature was 12 degrees C last time I swam, 6am yesterday morning. I was not worrying about Pfizer doing experiments on 6 month old babies then. I could not. I was feeling. Noticing the water around me, observant of only that. Present. Really present in my body. I know many, including my partner who've swum in plenty colder. 10 degrees is about my coldest with my swim suit. 4 is my coldest in a wetsuit, several years ago. 1.6 is my partner's coldest this winter. I aim for winter skin swimming this year. We'll see where that goes. For now, it's cold enough to be aware. Cold enough to be mindful, present, aware of nothing else apart from where I am, in that space.
Swimming is heavily there in my survival plan. Laughter Yoga too. My gorgeous Harmonising Water group. Connecting with like minded souls. Eating nourishing food. Less TV. We've just done Monday - Thursday with no TV. Next week may be similar. Paddle boarding is in the plan. Outside. Being. The survival plan feels like the way forwards. Knowing there is dark, there is pain, but knowing I can still sing, can still feel joy out there. And inside.
Thriving is clearly the way forwards. Sometimes surviving through the dark is enough. Thriving will come again.
Well, my ears pricked up when that advert came on Spotify this morning. Wow are they talking about Laughter Clubs?!? Hahaha. Nope. A Panadol advert.
The “More Laughs. Less Pain” campaign sees the brand sponsoring comedy streaming platform NextUp, offering three months of free content including 200 on-demand programmes across the comedy spectrum.
Panadol is also supporting the Live Comedy Association and its #SaveLiveComedy initiative, to “help the UK stand-up scene thrive beyond COVID-19 and help to boost consumers’ moods for the long-term”.
To access NextUp’s premium service, shoppers will need to sign up for free on nextupcomedy.com/Panadol.
The campaign will be supported by a widespread marketing and digital campaign, including out-of-home experiences and online advertising “encouraging consumers to trade-up to Panadol”.
Jasmine Walton, senior brand manager for Panadol, said: “Our research has shown that in 2020, 38% of Brits cannot recall a time when they have laughed out loud.
“It is recognised that laughter can help to increase our pain tolerance, couple this with our commitment to relieve people’s pain, meant we were keen to get Britain laughing again.
“We hope that the campaign will not only see laughter levels increase amongst consumers but will also highlight Panadol’s leading role in pain relief”.
Well, I have to say my heart slightly sank. I'm not entirely convinced that the campaign is much to do with getting people laughing, and more a great marketing spin, but I'm hopeful that some try it without taking the meds and see how much it can do for them. Of course, for clarity, I'd never suggest anyone not take medication that they've been prescribed or need to have.
That said, I do like the fact they're highlighting the use of laughter as helping with pain. And thought I'd use my irritation as a springboard to discuss that a little.
Laughter helps chronic pain shows Swiss study. Whilst in the study, it does state laughter should be real not fake laughter, I would suggest that one of the joys of Laughter Clubs is that within a group of people, volunteered laughter rapidly becomes real and contagious laughter.
This study, reported on by the BBC stated "Tittering and giggling did not elicit any physiological effect; only a good guffaw did the job." which is also fabulous to hear as we talk regularly about belly laughter, laughter from deep inside being so beneficial - and another reason why Laughter Clubs are so helpful - some people are shier and for some, laughing with a guffaw isn't deemed OK in public...
Laughter was equated with pain meds here: "In a study of 35 patients in a rehabilitation hospital, 74% agreed with the statement, "Sometimes laughing works as well as a pain pill." These patients had a broad range of conditions, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, arthritis, limb amputations, and other neurological or musculoskeletal disorders." (1)
Norman Cousins' experience was recounted to us when we trained in Laughter Yoga leading. For an insight there have a read:
In 1964, Norman Cousins was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen. The disorder caused constant pain and suffering and was accompanied with a poor prognosis of only a few months to live. Cousins served as an Adjunct Professor at University of California–Los Angeles, where he conducted research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the keys to success in resisting and fighting illness. He often expressed his belief that, since negative emotions lead to negative physiology, then positive emotion, such as humor, can lead to positive physiology. As examples, chronic stress persistently elevates levels of stress hormones, including epinephrine and cortisol. Chronic stress also increases the susceptibility to blood clots. Together, these physiological responses to stress increase the risk for cardiovascular and other diseases (2). Importantly, the positive emotions of humor and laughter decrease the risk for stress-related diseases (3).
With his strong beliefs in the power of human emotions and his dire prognosis, Cousins decided to take his treatment into his own hands. He convinced his physicians to prescribe an intravenous dose of vitamin C that was well above the normal therapeutic level, and, as an adjunct to this therapy, he watched humorous movies and television shows to induce laughter as a consistent part of his treatment. Mirthful laughter markedly reduced his pain and relieved stress. “10 minutes of laughter gave me 2 hours of pain free sleep,” Cousins said, “laughter produced a natural body anesthesia.” Cousins’ humor-induced treatment saved his life and allowed him to live and prosper for nearly 25 additional years. Cousins and his remarkable results are a testament to the positive psychophysiological impact created by the emotions of humor and mirthful laughter and have been documented in a book he authored, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (4)."
For the article I discovered including the above information - and lots more, that's here.
One thing worth noting is that Norman's laughter was 10 minutes that gave 2 hours of pain free sleep. Laughter, to get the scientifically proven health benefits, should be sustained. We should be laughing daily for 10-15 minutes. Natural laughter lasts for 3-4 seconds at a time, and we should be laughing, heartily for longer. Relying also on comedy clubs means that you have to be there. Introducing laughter as an exercise into your life means you do it unconditionally. I laugh every time my shower goes on cold, having trained myself to do it over a period of around a month. To the point that it's like a Pavlovian response and being out in the hail recently (nothing quite like Yorkshire May weather!) elicited the same response and I was laughing away walking the dogs. Our poor lurcher was less amused and desperate to get back inside, bless her.
I've for a long time been inspired by Patch Adams, immortalised in a film of the same name starring Robin Williams. For a talk with the real Patch Adams, have a watch of this. It's something I often think I should start each day with. And never do. But I do laugh daily now and feel the benefit.
I want to blog on my experiences of laughing regularly since January 2021 and plan to share other's experiences, including those I've trained with and those I've regularly laughed with as I feel there's a need for laughing now, and just want to share my feelings on how it's been for me and others. Laughing regularly could be with me, with other Laughter Yoga leaders, as a regular commitment alone, with the fabulous people I trained with, with friends or however you like. I reckon laughter regularly has something really special going for it. It's free, it's available for us all and I certainly feel we all could benefit from it right now.
New blog on that coming soon. But for now, have a watch of Patch above.
And so to end, and I want to go back to where I started, as I like going in a circle - on walks, I see it happen in life, I love to observe the way it's all a cycle out there in nature...
"Our research has shown that in 2020, 38% of Brits cannot recall a time when they have laughed out loud."
If you're there with the 38%, come and laugh with me. Details of the sessions are here. Or laugh with someone else, but I invite you to dive in and explore your relationship with laughter. It might be the best thing you've ever done. And, as I say to my daughter, "if it's awful it should at least make a funny story." What's to lose?
With love, and laughter,
Last year, around March 2020, I was living in fear. Not of a virus I'd like to say, which isn't to say I was unaware that there was a virus that wasn't great out there. But that there would be an experimental product created and everyone would be told they had to have it. Across the board. Mandatory.
Well clearly it's not quite come to pass, but near as damn it. So I've learned a great lesson. Or probably several. When my partner told me not to worry, that that would never happen, well, lesson one I guess. I was right (or very nearly at least!). But more seriously, that my worrying did nothing to influence government matters.
My anxiety didn't help them or me.
Did nothing to help them talk about the bonuses of a healthy diet. A healthy lifestyle. Did nothing for them to discuss Vitamin C as an aid to coping with viruses in a positive way. As an aside, I can't get out of my head images of people getting fish and chips at the seaside whilst wearing a mask to 'keep them safe'. More interesting still given that a study at the University of San Diego claims to have proof that COVID-19 is not a respiratory illness, but a vascular one. The irony. Back to the main point. Though if you want to read more, have a look here.
I don't want to discuss much of the whole situation, but my main point is that I've had concerns, worries that we'd be here. That masks would be a priming for a 'doing the right thing', 'thinking about someone else', that the science there is far from settled and seems to be equally opposing, if not possibly stronger on the for most people 'breathing fresh air is good for you' side. And here we are. Masks are no longer suggested to be used in schools for pupils, and yet individual schools are now actively encouraging their continued use. Teachers are concerned whether it's safe. Pupils 'don't feel safe without them' so are planning to continue to sit through 6 hours of lessons wearing a mask. We've been conditioned to think this piece of fabric is better than our innate immune system. Our glorious, incredible immune system. Which we could have been learning about all during the past year and boosting in so many wonderful ways.
So instead of weakening my own immune system with worry (to the point I struggled to breathe at times in the early days), I may as well have sailed along feeling happy, healthy and strong and not worrying about what would come to pass. Because it came to pass anyway.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "Brain activity linking negative emotions to a lower immune response against disease has been revealed for the first time, claim researchers". So how would it be to stream fear, figures and worrying images into our homes night after night, after night? To have inmates, sorry, residents, glued to their seats hearing how an invisible threat was out to get them. Would that strengthen or weaken their immune system? I'll leave that up to you. But if you want to read more have a look below for the New Scientist mention of the study.
I don't think there has been informed consent, informed choice for the study we have all participated in over the last year. And know I'm not alone in feeling that the media, the government, has had a part of impairing our innate immune systems with that alone. Here Dr Gary Sidler, retired clinical psychologist writes about the murky waters the government is operating in. And here, more on the group of 47 psychologists who have accused the government of using fear tactics of increasing anxiety in the public.
I guess it's a balance isn't it. It's not about head in the clouds, it's all going to be fine, carry on regardless, or head in the sand, ostrich style. Perhaps about keeping informed but doing what you can to nourish yourself. To support others and their wonderful immune systems. Recognising the vibrational resonance of emotions. Fear is not a great place to be living in, and I believe there has been so much of it, from all angles.
Instead of learning, at 5pm briefings everyday, what we could do to help ourselves be strong, happy, vibrant and healthy, we learnt of deaths, panic, fear and numbers. When have we before been told the numbers of people who died in a day from one specific disease? We could have had fresh juice recipes, encouraging ideas, suggestions of fun exercise to do. Maybe even alongside the fear, the terror, if we had to share it, that would have been better. If we knew that the 3rd leading cause of death in the states was from medical error and learned the death rate everyday, we'd be horrified. As we have been here. Terrified, scared, weak, vulnerable.
I seriously don't think we've had any sort of informed choice about the psychological experiment we have just participated in.
So I guess, the valuable point is, if we want to opt out of this psychological study, how do we do it?
Perhaps we can't get all the way out, I don't know. But we can be aware I believe, and we can help ourselves.
I'm never a big fan of telling anyone what to do or not do, but in case you're interested, here's how I'm negotiating my way through...
* A while ago, horrified at the BBC, to go on to be more horrified at them later, I got rid of my TV licence. We don't have 5pm death counts streaming into our home.
* We don't read the 'paid for' papers, apart from a quick headline flash when I go to the Post Office to post remedies for clients.
* Wim Hof breathing. Cold showers daily. I'm also about to get back into the river for a boost of cold therapy, friends and nature exposure.
* Engaging in the outdoors regularly, several times a day with the dogs. A great leveller.
* A daily, or at least 5 times a week, laughter practice since January of this year. Come along to a session if you like. They're small, informal, happy places to hang out and a wonderful mood boost. Read more on what others have said here. Also Laughter Yoga International have short courses, they also have 3 times weekly large zoom meetings if you want to go to one of those.
* Good food, whole food. Processed food isn't always welcomed by our bodies as much as whole food, as near to nature food. Whether it be vegan, paleo, omnivore or wherever in between, as close to nature, is good. If you can pronounce the ingredients is great. And if there are minimal ingredients then even better.
* Sleeping well.
* Less 'news' more real people. Focusing on what is here and now. Yesterday I was talking about a volcano eruption we hadn't learnt of not knowing the 'news' around the world, and it got us to thinking how our news the day earlier had been that a sheep was in the wrong field. Crazy days. But how our brain doesn't need to be overwhelmed, on high alert for events, for drama. And the sheep got rehomed to the right field. I don't want to leave you with worries here.
* Getting (and regularly using) some key words - in the early part of the year I loved 'strength, focus, compassion and love'. There were days those words got me out of bed. Now they've changed to 'harmony, joy, love, gratitude and abundance'. Paddling yesterday on the inflatable Stand up Paddleboard, repeating those words whilst I paddled felt good. Like a meditation mantra in the water. If you check out the work of Masaru Emoto (a quick summary here), I hope you'd decide the words that you say to yourself are as important, or more, as anything else.
* Seeing my homeopath is there too. If you're looking for help with homeopathy, feel free to get in touch. There's loads more info on my Homeopathy pages. What to expect, and thoughts from others who've worked with me.
* Vitamins if I'm feeling the need. In the early days, the Orthomolecular Society issued some recommendations for supporting our bodies to deal with viruses which we followed. I discussed that in the blog, here. Sometimes I still megadose Vitamin C and it depends how I'm feeling now as to what I take.
I think that's probably a good start!
Lastly, in answer to my title question - where is the informed choice? I think it's nowhere to be seen. I do believe it is time to rise up and take personal responsibility for what we can do, what we can influence and how we can each find joy, raise our vibrations and help those around us. And I don't believe that's found in figures and fear.
An invitation to be a part of a collection of uplifting, inspiring stories
Being a mum, seeing kids do their thing. Being a homeopath, hearing stories of school life and the challenges from kids. Talking to people. Having gone through school myself and definitely not found it easy plenty of times. Not so much the school work, I was lucky that that was never really an issue for me. But the friend stuff. The groups. The social side of things. There were times that were great, but plenty of times that weren't too.
I was musing this morning how much of it can be challenging. And pondering what would help some of the kids I see in practice, my own child when things are tough, and others around me. For me, one thing that I love is engaging in people's stories. Hearing how it was for them. Seeing how good triumphs. Seeing how hard times do lead us onto amazing things. Catapult us forwards.
I love working with homeopathy and seeing the changes that can result, but here I wanted it to be about something different. Connection. Inspiration. Seeing the challenges faced and how they turned out.
If you'd like to be a part of this mini-project, I'd love it if you'd like to share your story below or send to me. I'm more than happy to keep it anonymous and you don't have to share your real name below. I'd love to have a little resource, to be able to share some hope with clients who are finding it tough at the moment. Alongside the other things they're doing, I hope it gives them hope of change, better days ahead, and perhaps even brings a whole different light to the situation.
With heart felt thanks,
I've been musing over this today. And thinking over the opposite, the contrast to pottering; our rushing, busy, often chaotic, achievement driven society.
From the Cambridge Dictionary:
potter: verb [ I usually + adv/prep ]
(US usually putter)
to move around without hurrying, and in a relaxed and pleasant way:
I spent the afternoon pottering around the garden doing a few odd jobs.
He doesn't drive very fast - he tends to potter along.
The 'relaxed and pleasant way' is interesting. After an afternoon or even (it doesn't happen often but my goodness!!) a day of pottering, I feel like a weight has lifted, I feel more expansive. I feel like I've been massaged, treated and gifted with space and time. It's fair to say I'm not the most high maintenance kind of girl! Or at least that's my opinion anyway. And yet I frequently forget just how important it is to me. I easily pack the diary full, study, learn, do courses, walk, do fun stuff, yet I need to remember the joy of pottering.
My favourite way to do it is with an empty house. And perhaps a few jobs on the list, but the flexibility to choose when I do them, what I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sat feet up watching Netflix all day. There may be a TV break, but for me it's about the joy of gradually, gently getting things done. Instead of rushing, with a time limit. It may help here that currently the school runs are off the menu for me, so instead of between 90 minutes to 3 hours driving a day, there's a little more space.
But speaking of the school run, of the trip into the office, I do wonder if we've lost some pottering, day dreaming time along the way with our home-working lifestyles. I used to love the drive together, chatting about the day ahead, or even before that, walking to school stopping off to pick daisies, or have an impromptu cuppa on the way home. Going further back to a commute for work, the driving time provides something of a butter between one world and the other. And now we are out of the frying pan and into the fire. No, that's Meatloaf. Out of the study and into the living room. And onto the next thing.
I wonder if pottering could be introduced to schools? Made a National Curriculum worthy study. Instead of punishing day dreaming, invite it. Have a day dreaming lesson once a week? Oh I like the sound of this! It feels like it's so good for my brain, I'm sure there's enough neuroscientific research to back me up. I can't believe that we are made for constantly being ON.
So with something of a rebellious feeling, against the fast pace, against the do, do, do, world that I've found myself in, I'm planning to study pottering more, definitely from an experiential angle, maybe even learn more about research into the art. Perhaps the occasional immersion technique day is the way forwards. I hear people talking of building a life you don't need a holiday from and feel I'm moving way closer towards that than I used to be.
It's not to say I don't want to achieve, I've plenty I want to do, write, explore, learn, and I love doing all that. But stopping, pottering and just being is vital to me too.
I'd love to know what you think.
Potter on, my friends,
It is so polarised out there. So divided. What's the truth? Who knows. But I do know that division isn't helpful. Shouting 'anti-lockdown' at people (which I've seen on groups, not in reality) isn't useful.
What is useful? Conversation. Dialogue. Respectful talking to understand. Who knows, we might even learn something. Blame and shame and finger pointing feel so old school. Isn't it time for a new way.
So... out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field… I will meet you there.
I look forward to it.
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy
BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Laughter Yoga Leader
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition