More than a feeling

How many of you have lost their temper? I don’t mean a 2 year olds, foot stomping “I want attention” bluster. I mean nearly, really lost it. Red homicidal rage lost it… How many have felt this way, yet thankfully not acted on it?


It could have been someone cutting you up on the way home from a stressful day at work. Yet another rude person bumping into you on the street and giving you that look; expecting you to apologise. Or you have just sat down, after cleaning the home and 5 minutes later your partner or children walk across the floor with filthy shoes -again! The proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back is different for everyone; yet the response can be the same. People can be like volcanoes, we either implode or explode!

Anger arises out of fear. When our plans and expectations are blocked and unfulfilled; the result is anger. When we allow anger and rage to burn out of control, it destroys what and who is around us. It separates us from ourselves, others and the true depth of life. Anger can block the flow of life and love. Release your expectation, just what are you trying to prove and why?

Common sense and compassion can get disconnected, we say or do hurtful things to others; or ourselves. Anyone can lash out, like a spoilt child, whether your weapons are words, actions, fists, a knife or gun. However, the spiritually awakened person knows that it is just one course of action; and chooses a different one.

If you are a person who wants a peaceful life; which the majority of us do. You will make a passing comment or ignore their behaviour. And this can be a way of dealing with the actions of others. Though it doesn’t resolve how you are feeling. So where do you think the stress, frustration, anger and rage goes?


Anger, and all our emotions have their own energy, effect and impact upon health and the world around us. Emotions are not wrong, as with all things in life they mirror our internal dialogue and response to the external environment. Though if we ignore our own inner e-mails that is when issues and imbalance can develop. We all have a choice, either accept how we feel and own our emotions; or be owned by them.

According to all herbal traditions, transforming our emotional state is key to attaining and maintaining harmony in our lives. Contrary to popular belief, perfection is unnecessary. As with many things in life, inner balance is a dynamic that shifts as we move through life. Our lives are linked to the tides and seasons, coloured by our moods; and intertwined with the metaphysical phases of existence.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), anger corresponds to the season of Spring, the colour green, the energetic phase of Wood, the planet Jupiter and sour flavoured foods. The remaining energetic phases of Fire, Earth, Metal and Water correspond to panic, anxiety, grief and fear respectively. Through right living, Taoist philosophy encourages us to transform anger to peace and compassion.


I want us to focus on anger, as there are times where we need to do more than get even when we feel angry. When we get stuck in life, we get stuck within; and vice versa. The energy of life gets all tangled up, the more frustrated we get – the more tied up we feel about situations in life. Some people explode, some implode; while others just smoulder. When we smoulder, we slowly consume ourselves from the inside out. For some people, this can manifest in self-destructive habits, ulcers and cancers. Or they retreat into their cave for as long as they need to; some never emerging from depression.

There comes a time, when we forget why we are angry and defensive. For some, it becomes a preference; a way of staying safe. The natural instinct of all animals, even the human one, is to leave the aggressive ones alone; if we can. Yet the human species is one that is actively aggressive towards itself and other animals. The majority avoid aggression and violence towards others. Though there are many examples of man’s inhumanity to man; even today.


Anyone, I mean absolutely anyone, has the potential to be violent and aggressive. Naturally, if someone has broken into your home – you will defend yourself and family. You could reason with the burglar and ask them to leave – stranger things have happened. You could overpower them, knock them out and restrain them… Or you could take their life from them and get a new shed or patio.

However, the person we are commonly most brutal to isn’t a child, partner or parent; it’s ourselves. How can we expect to live in a peaceful world; when we lack compassion for self? Anger is a useful tool, yet it is commonly mishandled. It is time for the tyrannical bully within to be told a few simple home truths:

  1. A perfect, ordered world is unnatural.
  2. There is no growth when all is complete.
  3. Keeping everything the same leads to stagnation and pain – nothing flows or grows.

Every tyrant gets deposed, whether they are 2 years old in a highchair or 62 years old and sat in their chair on high. Polluting our lives with negative chatter in our heads, being verbally violent to others, switching on and opening the untruths of media…They all perpetuate anger and apathy in our lives. Give yourself the gift of stillness, silence and calm; even just for a few moments.


The only way to a more peaceful life is to live deliberately and calmly. When you bully, berate and belittle others; you are projecting your frustrations onto the world. This can be the easier path of least resistance for some; as change can signify failure. Until we individually recognise what is right in our lives (and the world); the pattern remains ingrained. Change can be as challenging and difficult as you expect it to be. Or it can be liberating.

Imagine all of the energy you use to maintain the status quo and remain annoyed at yourself, others and the world. It’s like keeping the seas at bay, eventually you will be overwhelmed and exhausted. Feel your frustration and anger really building up inside of you for a few minutes. Now use your imagination, change the circumstances of your life… go back to the earliest time in your life when you remember feeling angry. It doesn’t matter who or what it was to do with. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry?” And, “What am I afraid to change?”

Next, place your hand in the middle of your chest and replay the moment in your life and change it. How do you feel? It may feel odd, yet different …calmer, more relaxed. Your head may argue and you might have to repeat the exercise a few times. Though each time you choose to be calm and relaxed; the easier it becomes. Now imagine your life calm, relaxed and without limits. What do you want to do in your life? Decide how you want your life to be, right now. Do you feel more enthusiastic and focussed?


When you are peaceful and calm within, your world and the lives of others can be the same. None can fight for peace. We can only create peace within. When we allow peace to grow within, we also have compassion and understanding of ourselves. Then as a people, we can begin to reach maturity. The wise person knows when to say ‘No’. And when to bless with a ‘Yes’.

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Sticks and stones

Sticks and stones may break your bones,
Yet words can never hurt me.

Most of us have heard this little rhyme as children. Historically it has been used in legal cases and to encourage people to walk away if others are being verbally abusive. We know sticks, stones, knives, guns and fists can cause physical harm and injury. Though so can words, ask any lawyer or three year old.

It isn’t just the words we hear or read, it’s also the conversations we have with ourselves in our own heads consciously and subconsciously. The voices in our heads really do tell us to do it… the quiet whispers that scratch around inside maintaining and creating anxiety, doubt, confusion and mistrust. And that is just within ourselves.

The impact of parental, educational, religious and cultural expectations, impositions, doctrine and dogma all have their impact on us all. We all want to be accepted, loved and liked. However, if you are unable to accept yourself, or at least like who you are as a person – it won’t matter what others say or think.


It’s time to wake up and change. Until anyone accepts or realises their life or behaviour has to change; it remains the same. In the Western world we are very stuck in our heads, we are discouraged from displaying emotion and acknowledging intuition. Then we wonder why we have difficulty switching off or consider it abnormal to take time to relax.

We mostly want to be perceived as good children; regardless of our age. We’re conditioned from a very young age to behave in acceptable ways or face punishment and retribution. It is hard-wired as guilt, shame, fear, apathy and pity. I’m not a God-fearing person, never have been. Why would a benevolent being require obedience? Neither am I an atheist. If people want to pursue a spiritual path and have faith in yellow M & Ms and it helps them live a great life – who am I to argue?

How we live our lives should cause no harm or loss to self or any other. It’s common sense, even a child could understand. No one should be killing in the name of anyone or anything. We have to take responsibility for how we feel and think; as well as what we say and do. No longer can we keep passing the buck to whoever, or abdicating our choices to governments, medics, the media, religions, social media; or others. Did you know that we only have to be told information three times before we start to absorb and believe it.


How many people have gone to see their GP or medical practitioner feeling a little under the weather? We just feel a bit off, then we are told by this person you have such-and-such disease. Then you are told you will need further tests and it is likely you will have this condition for the rest of your life. As they hold a qualification, we accept that information, after all they know what they are talking about. We go home with a leaflet, find a website detailing symptoms and then we start to develop them…that is the power of words.

The media also exploit us with headlines, sound bites of information and advertising. Anything to grab our attention and manipulate our consciousness. Switch it all off! Put it down and pay attention to what is going on within. As adults, we insist on making life complicated and a big deal. Though what if you took a leaf out of a child’s book and made it simple again? We can transform our internal programs, or we can keep them playing subliminally in the background in a continuous loop.

So what if you could change how you feel about an issue in your life? Or you shift your thinking to perceive life differently? Would you do it? What if you could be taught simple exercises to enrich your life and well-being? What is to be? The white pills? Or what you already have within you? It can take as little as 1 hour of your life working with your own feelings, thoughts, words and EFT. Energy medicine has been present in our lives in many forms. It can be as simple as starting to talk about what is within you.

Thinking about the past, about things we wish we hadn’t done or said, or things we wanted to do differently is not helpful beyond the learning that we would change behaviour next time. It takes us out of our present experience and awareness. We have our memories, echoes of experience etched into our souls. We can access them, yet never be fully present in them. It’s a bit like holding water in your hand. If we are still and let it be – we have clarity of our experiences. It is when we focus only on the past that we get stuck there. Replaying our experiences over and over again. “Could we have done things differently?” “Should we have said?” Could have, should have, would have…


We all have a choice, to allow what was, to determine who we are; or recognise who we are is independent of the past. There comes a point where we break free of our experiences and start listening to the calm within. Working with EFT allows you to shift your focus and let go; to be present and aware of life now. You already have the answers and solutions within to what ails you; it’s just connecting with it. Once you have the keys to your kingdom – there are no limits.


Sure, learn from your lessons; there are no mistakes in life. There are only opportunities to grow from the compost of experiences and be present in life – that is all there is. Yet we make it all so complicated; when it is so simple. When we are present, everything is within us – instantly accessible.

Some of us focus on our gateways of experience; others on where life should be. Worrying about the future is equally pointless, it robs us of the joy that can be found in the present moment, it also contributes to anxiety and unease. “Are we doing it right?” “Will others acknowledge who and what we are?” “Will we have this or that in our lives?” We become slaves to destiny, again forgetting who we truly are; for the promise of what might be. So which is more important? The thread of experience, or the eye of the needle? We become blind to the reality of life, focusing on the doing and achieving – rather than just being.


Living in the present moment allows us to consciously focus our awareness on be-ing as often as possible. You can help yourself to do this by taking the time to practice experiencing the present moment and discovering how great that feels! Our lives, all of them, can only exist now; in the moment. The rest are echoes and projections. The threads of possibility competing for our attention, intention and energy – calling to us from the becoming. Are we happy for others to whisper to us, telling us what we need? Or, are we happy when the chatter is silenced? Leaving us all the ability to hear our own wisdom, to know what is right from within.

It can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, releasing tension and stress from the body, letting go of the thoughts that rush in; and allowing yourself to be calm, relaxed and still. Just allow yourself to be. We’re going to try a little exercise for just a few moments.

  • Take a few deep breaths and relax, take a few more and allow yourself to relax a little more.
  • Now, imagine your life without fear of past or life yet to be. Imagine life without anger, lack or doubt; beyond pain and chaos.
  • How do you feel? Take a few deep breaths and relax.

Again, for a few moments, imagine your life exactly as you want…

  • Feeling great, healthy, calm and relaxed; enjoying life.
  • Knowing your life is exactly as it is meant to be.

Now, how do you feel? Notice the difference. Remember how you feel and know you are already this person.

Happy…confident… calm… healthy.

Loving and living your life to the full.


Apart from day-dreaming, you may have just practiced your first meditation and visualisation. Remember how it feels to be. Welcome the calm and clarity it brings. Feel the energy and opportunity it manifests in your life. All you have experienced, over the past few moments is how to just be; today and everyday. Over the next three weeks, just once a day, practice this exercise.

Choose a moment in your day when you are able to do this.

  • Remove all distractions – ringing phones, door bells, TV, radio, social media, barking and screaming, responsibilities of two legged and four legged ones.
  • Ask others to let you just unwind and relax for a few minutes; to have a few moments of me time.

Or practice this exercise with others, use it as an opportunity to be together. This is your gift to yourself.

It may only seem like a few moments, when you’ve taken a few minutes, it may naturally expand to 20 minutes or more; it doesn’t matter. It is the space you are making to be present with Self. Even if, just for Today.


Working with Energy medicine and EFT is an effective method for managing your stress, resolving your issues and enhancing the life you already have. The great news is I can share this versatile tool either over the phone or face to face. For further information,, and to book your EFT session, contact John on 07751-485204.

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Herbal First Aid – part 2

Where has the week gone? And I’m a day or so late with this second part of Herbal First Aid.

Hopefully you’ve not had any reason to use any of the remedies. It’s certainly been an eventful week. We’ve had additions to families all over the planet, military coups, transport incidents overseas. Just don’t get me started on the films being released, so much choice…it’s an ideal place to hide on a baking hot Summer’s day. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Though I’d rather be outside, which is where I’ve been; giving the garden a hair-cut. Our children either scuff their knees, hands, elbows and faces at least once; unless we’re wrapping them in cotton wool. I know I have a few childhood badges of honour. Adults can also be prone to cuts and scrapes in the kitchen, garden or when worse for wear from alcohol.

1. Cuts and Scrapes

Most cuts and abrasions heal on their own. Any time the skin is broken, it is prone to infection; so its better to be safe than sorry. Minor superficial cuts and scrapes that most children get at some point in their childhood or adolescence are treatable at home.

Styptic powder

Powdered cayenne pepper (Capsicum minimum) and powdered yarrow flower/leaf (Achillea millefolium) make a powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic styptic mix.


A teaspoon of each can be blended together and kept in an airtight jar; discard after 6 months. It can be sprinkled directly onto cuts or wounds to stop bleeding; it will sting a little. (You could also use fresh cayenne pepper and yarrow blended into a paste.)

Bleeding from a cut usually stops by itself after a couple of minutes or after applying this styptic herbal combination. If it doesnt, cover the wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure. Should the wound be deep or continue to bleed after applying pressure after 10 minutes go to Accident and Emergency; it may need stitches.

Once the bleeding has stopped, gently wash the wound with soap and hot water. Pat dry and apply a little honey to the wound. (Just make sure there are no breadcrumbs or butter in it.) Honey is another natural antibacterial treatment for minor cuts and scrapes. It has been used with marigold flowers to treat battle wounds and prevent infection.


Clinical trials show that this sweet remedy significantly reduces bacterial contamination in wounds and helps them heal faster. (I can vouch for this.) In fact, its just as effective as an over-the-counter antimicrobial barrier dressing. Manuka honey is especially renowned for this, another reason to look after our fuzzy little friends.

Slivers of wood, metal or glass that become embedded in the skin need to be removed to avoid infection. Use sterilized tweezers or a freshly sterilised sewing needle to ease the splinter out, then wash the wound with an herbal infusion to disinfect.

Herbs with both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties include St. Johns wort, Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium) or Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). A strong infusion of one or more of these herbs can be used to wash the area where a splinter has poked through the skin.

However, sometimes we don’t have access to a kettle when we’re out for the day or on holiday. So always be prepared, we find that if we have something with us – we don’t need it. Mums and dads, grandparents, uncles and aunties just want something quick and easy to hand.

Lemon and Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray

7-8 drops each lemon and tea tree essential oils
1 Tbsp (15ml) of Oregon grape root tincture
3 Tbsp of Aloe vera gel


Combine ingredients in a jar and shake well twice daily for a week to help disperse oils. Once made, keep in an atomizer. This should keep for up to a month at room temperature.

You should be able to buy all ingredients from a healthfood shop.

2. Car Sickness

Nothing spoils a trip faster than a bout of motion sickness. I remember being jammed into the back seat of car as a child with three others on a hot summer’s day, stuck in traffic with no breeze. Once we got moving, stopping, moving… I’d would start to get that clammy skin and watery mouth and then we would have to pull over quickly!

If nausea strikes your child, partner or any other passenger, try ginger (Zingiber officinale) as an effective preventative. Ginger not only relieves nausea, it also might be able to prevent motion sickness when taken prior to travelling.


I remember the bitter taste of travel sickness tablets even when it was hidden in a sweet. For those old enough to swallow pills, keep a supply of ginger capsules in your purse or glove box to quell a queasy tummy; it can help with morning sickness too.

If you have a herbalist living and working in your community they can make herbal capsules for you.

Younger children (and the big kids) can benefit from stem ginger cookies or a ginger ice lolly. For the ice lollies, just make fresh ginger root tea, pour into moulds and freeze. If you want to disguise the flavour use a bit of fruit cordial or honey.

Play It Safe

While most minor maladies can be safely treated at home, there are times when a trip to the doctor or Accident and Emergency department is called for. Seek immediate medical attention if your child (or other family member) has:

  • Wounds that wont stop bleeding, especially deep, large or jagged wounds that might require stitches
  • Burns that produce large or extensive blisters
  • Severe allergic reactions to stings or irritant plants that make the area swell or affect their breathing
  • Any type of human or animal bite
  • Severe vomiting and or diarrhoea
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Herbal First Aid – part 1

With summer holidays upon us, this is the perfect time to take stock of your first aid kit or put one together if you don’t already have one. By putting it together now (before you need it), you will be prepared for those common summertime issues such as mosquito bites, stings, sunburn, cuts and scrapes, and other illnesses that arise during our more active summer lifestyle. (Finally we actually have a Summer to enjoy.)

As trips are scheduled and holidays are taken, it’s also helpful to have a simple travel herbal first kit to hand. It’s fun and empowering to be able to treat your family and friends with herbal remedies and even more exciting to see the look of amazement on their faces when the remedies actually work!

(Of course, always exercise discretion when using these suggestions. They are meant for minor injuries only and are not meant to replace professional medical care. Always seek medical care when needed.)

I’m going to show you how to make your own herbal first aid remedies using ingredients that are common to the supermarket or Healthfood store; and are inexpensive. I’ve used them on myself over the past 20 years and I hope they work for you and your family.

1. Burns
Whether it’s a kitchen mishap or too much time in the sun, nothing is more painful than a burn. (Especially when you get the joker of your family or social circle come and slap you on your sore shoulders.) For any type of burn, it’s important to take immediate action.

First, cool the burned area by immersing it in cold water; the cold numbs the pain and prevents further tissue injury. Then reach for the herbs. For deeper, serious burns or scalds (blistered skin and worse) seek emergency medical care; especially when it covers a large area of the body. The last thing you want is for your child or partner to go into shock.

Aloe (Aloe spp.) is a well-known remedy for soothing minor burns. Numerous studies show that this succulent herb also speeds healing. In one study, researchers noted that the healing time for people using Aloe vera was nearly nine days shorter than those who didn’t.


While you can purchase a prepared aloe gel, if you’re lucky enough to have your own Aloe plant; use it. Remove an outer leaf and peel off the thin, green skin from a small section of the leaf. Rub the gel-like substance from the inside directly onto the burn. Store the remaining unpeeled leaf in the refrigerator and use as often as necessary to ease the pain. You can grow Aloe vera in the kitchen window and if you live south enough in the UK possibly outdoors.

I had the opportunity to use fresh Aloe gel on sunburn several years ago while in Portugal. Nature really does provide the medicinal plants where you need them. I combined fresh aloe gel with an infusion of chamomile and mint tea; the tea bags I had bought locally. Leave the aloe gel to infuse with the tea and chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Then wash the reddening skin with the cool infusion or place a wash cloth covered in the infusion on the affected burn area. So what do you do if you can’t get hold of Aloe vera? Simple, use cucumber instead; it’s a natural refrigerant. You could also use watermelon flesh as well.

Cooling burn spray
You will need:

1 x Chamomile tea bag
1 x Nettle and Peppermint tea bag
½ pint (284ml) of freshly boiled water
½ x Cucumber, peeled and chopped
6-8 drops of Lavender essential oil
4-6 drops of Peppermint essential oil


1 clean cup or mug
1 glass jug
1 blender
2-3 clean 100ml spray bottles, plastic or glass

How to make:

  • Place the teabags in the cup and add the boiled water. Steep for 10-15 minutes.
  • Peel and chop the cucumber (Watermelon flesh or fresh Aloe gel if you have it) and place in the blender.
  • Add the herbal infusion to the cucumber and blend together.
  • Pour from the blender into the jug and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, keep the mixture covered.
  • Add the Lavender and Peppermint essential oils and pour into a clean spray bottle or medicine bottle.

Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

If you want to store the cooling burn mixture in the freezer, pour into ice cube molds ready to use in the event of a burn. Remember to label them or enjoy an unusual summer cocktail!

Whether you treat your burns with an herbal remedy of your own making or with a commercial treatment, you should avoid using oil-based salves. Oil retains heat and inhibits air circulation and drainage, all of which combine to slow healing.

2. Insect bites and stings
If you live in a humid climate, you’re all too familiar with the drone of mosquitoes and other flying insects. The best way to deal with these hungry critters is to thwart their attack with an herbal repellent. Please stop using the commercial synthetic brands formulated with DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), a pesticide that studies show can be a neurotoxin to children and adults.

Instead, look for a natural herb-based insect repellent or make your own:

Buzz off spray
I like this recipe because it only needs a few items and it’s so easy to put together. Make sure you shake it up for a few minutes each time before you use it. I hope you try it because it does work just as well as any shop bought spray; it’s better to use on your body and biodegradable in the environment.

You will need:

½ pint (284ml)of Witch hazel BP
½ teaspoon of vegetable glycerin
20 drops citronella essential oil
15 drops lemongrass essential oil
10 drops of fennel essential oil
5 drops of lavender essential oil or geranium essential oil

Instructions: Mix in a spray bottle and shake well before use. Apply liberally, please avoid getting in the eyes and mouth.

Plantain poultice
If your child suffers a minor bite or sting, use a poultice made from a plantain leaf (Plantago major or P. lanceolata), a little bicarbonate of soda and 1 drop of Lavender essential oil. Plantain grows in most lawns and footpaths and looks like a green tongue.


If you can see a stinger or poison sac, remove with clean, sterilised tweezers first. Unless there are multiple bites or stings, you will only need one leaf:

  • Gently bruise the leaf and blanche in a little boiling water, remove after 1-2 minutes, the leaf will already be cooling.
  • Apply 1 drop of lavender oil to the sting, sprinkle on the bicarbonate of soda, cover with the plantain leaf and a small dressing to hold the poultice in place.
  • Leave for 2-3 hours and repeat if necessary.

If you want a more complex herbal paste, use equal parts echinacea (Echinacea spp.) tincture, water and bentonite clay to draw out the poison. You also can add a few drops of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) to boost the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the paste.


While most bites are just a temporary nuisance, take your child to the doctor if they suffers from a headache, fatigue and body aches, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash, since these can be symptoms of more serious infections e.g. cellulitis.

I am aware these two treatments are more home-based. So I will leave you with a simple put together portable remedy.

Sting bee gone Spray, to ease the irritation and swelling

You will need:

1/8 Cup or 6 teaspoons (approx 30ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
1/8 Cup (30ml) Witch Hazel BP
1/8 Cup (30ml) Distilled Water
60 drops Essential Oil blend (your choice)

Useful essential oils are Cedarwood, Citronella, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Rosemary, Rose Geranium, Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint

  • Using a funnel, pour and drop all ingredients into a 100ml spray bottle.
  • Label and dispose of after 1 month; or keep in the fridge and dispose after 2 months

If the little annoyances do decide to feast on your blood, try not to scratch, since you should not apply this spray to open skin. If you do break the skin apply neat Witch hazel BP with a cotton wool ball. Or apply a Plantain poultice.

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Water, water everywhere…

ImageHow many of us drink enough water? I don’t mean tea, coffee, fizzy drinks or alcohol. Water, H2O…agua, eau, wasser. Water is the most important substance throughout the living world. Let that sentence sink in for a few minutes.

It’s more precious than oil, gold or diamonds. We cannot live without water for more than about 100 hours, (and air for more than a few minutes); whereas other nutrients may be neglected for weeks or months. Adequate water is an absolute requirement for our health and all active life; especially in this lovely hot Summer. The last thing any of us want is a banging head, wanting to constantly be sick and shivering hot and cold. Speaking from personal experience, sunstroke is really unpleasant; and so easy to prevent.

Commonly water in our diet is treated rather trivially, no other nutrient is more essential or needed in as great amounts. Your body needs water (or other water-based fluids) to work properly and to avoid dehydration. Water makes up about two-thirds of the weight of a healthy body.

The actual amount of water that an individual needs depends on their age, gender, physical activity, physiological condition (or illness); as well as the temperature and humidity of their physical environment. The recommended amounts are somewhat higher than the average intakes, being about 2.5 litres for men and 2.2 litres for women (rising to 2.3 litres if pregnant or 3.1 litres if breast-feeding). These levels of water intake reduce the occurrences of health issues such as kidney stones, gall stones, stiff muscles and joints. Chronic dehydration has been linked with dementia and cancer.

Men require more water than women due to their higher (on average) fat-free mass and energy expenditure. Fully breastfed babies do not require extra water; breast milk having a higher water content for its energy content than the adult diet. Compared with adults (and in spite of appearances to the contrary), they do not produce more urine than adults (it just seems that way) as they tend to retain more water for growth – it’s why some little ones look so chubby. Infants and young children have need for more water in proportion to their body weight as they cannot concentrate their urine as efficiently as adults, giving rise to greater water loss from the skin. The elderly should take care to ensure adequate hydration, as ageing diminishes the sensation of thirst as well as the ability to concentrate the urine.

There seems to be no scientific source for the argument in favour of much increased water intake (e.g. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day” or similar recommendations) with both benefits and potential hazards of extra water intake being documented. Perhaps surprisingly for such an important nutrient, there is insufficient evidence for either the benefit, or the lack of any benefit, from drinking increased amounts of water (hyper-hydration). However, low levels of water intake do not seem to show any health benefits and may be harmful or even fatal (especially in the very young and elderly).

Water plays many roles within the body:

  • To carry and distribute nutrients, metabolites, hormones and other materials around the body and within cells.
  • To remove waste products, in our pee, poop, our breath and skin.
  • To regulate body temperature


Your water balance

Water balance in humans is on average 2.5 litres per day. Electrolyte intake and output are also closely linked, both to each other and your hydration status. Typical values for an adult in a temperate climate are:

Water In                                     Water out

Drinks 1500ml/day                      Urine 1500ml/day

From food 700ml/day                  Sweating 500ml/day

Metabolic water 300ml/day        Respiration 400ml/day

                                                         Faeces 100ml/day

All values will vary with diet, activity and climate. The water ingested is determined by social, practical and psychological factors with need indicated by thirst, when the body is becoming dehydrated. Water balance during sporting and strenuous manual work will naturally be greater than for the average person at rest.

Naturally, when the weather is sunny or the climate hotter; we do need to drink more water. So how can we keep hydrated?

1. Drink enough water, I know we all like to enjoy fizzy drinks, tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, as well. Water is the healthiest choice for quenching your thirst at any time. It has no calories, contains no sugars that can damage teeth and no substances linked with cancer (e.g. Aspartame). If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try sparkling water or add a slice of lemon or lime. You could also add some fruit juice or cordial for flavour. And in this lovely hot Summer, we can always make home-made ice pops.

I know so many people professionally and personally that must have a flavour to their drink, or they whinge about not liking the taste of water. Very few people actually know what fresh water tastes like. I grew up and live in a hard (chalky) water area; I like the taste. If you are fortunate to live in areas with natural springs and sparkling streams, or even have your own; just make sure the source is flowing and clear. Should you have any doubts, boil it before drinking and then use a coffee filter paper to remove any deposits.

All fluid intake counts, including coffee and alcoholic drinks. Remember the diuretic effect of alcohol and caffeinated drinks; especially in hot weather. You can buy various bottled mineral waters, use filtered tap water to remove pollutants; or be daring and just drink it straight from the tap. Just leave the water at room temperature for any chlorine to evaporate; if you don‘t like the taste.

Be aware of the water content of your foodstuffs, it varies from ~6% in peanuts, ~35% in bread to ~85% in fruits and vegetables.

2. Eat lighter foods in the Summer, salads and fresh water-filled vegetables and fruits e.g. melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, pears, apples, berries. Make smoothies and fresh juices.

3. Stay cool, sweat, perspire, glow – it is all natural…It may not look pretty or smell very fragrant. Yet it is your body doing it’s job. In fact, people with a balanced water intake are less likely to stink. If you work in a warm environment or/and do strenuous work take regular sips of water. After drinking water, sweating is second for your temperature control. It varies with your energy intake and level of activity, ambient environmental temperature and humidity.

Wear natural, light-weight clothing made from cotton, linen or hemp cloth.; let the body breathe. As much as we should be sensible about staying out of the sun between 11am and 3pm; it isn’t always practical or possible. So cover your head with a hat, cap or bandana; wear a T-shirt; use sunscreen as and when it is needed; and finally wear sunglasses when appropriate. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated; it is defined as a loss of 2-3% of the body weight due to water loss. It causes a range of symptoms from tiredness, headaches and decreased alertness to collapse and death (at more than 10% loss of body weight). When our bodies don’t have enough water, we are said to be dehydrated. One of the first signs of dehydration is feeling thirsty. If you think you may not be getting enough fluids, check if you have any of these other common signs of dehydration:

  • Dark-coloured urine (it might sting a little)
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Irritability
  • Decreased concentration

Mild symptoms may be seen in the lack of concentration of children (and big kids) towards the end of their school day, with improved concentration in those less thirsty. Severe symptoms of dehydration are sometimes also evident in the elderly, e.g. confusion, stiffness, due to restricted water intake for medical, psychological or social reasons.

Increased water intake is normally easily controlled due to the effective functioning of the kidneys to produce more urine. If this does not occur, due to excessive water intake or a kidney disorder then extra water (hyper-hydration) may produce low blood sodium levels and cause the brain to swell (cerebral oedema), resulting in death. This is a rare condition.

Water should be drunk little, yet often throughout the day such that we are never thirsty. It is particularly important to hydrate last thing at night to prepare for the significant loss of water during sleeping and rehydrate first thing in the morning (especially if you sleep with your mouth open and snore). This is a time when the blood is most viscous and potential strokes particularly prevalent. We should also drink before, during and after exercise to maintain our level of hydration.

The rate of water uptake is faster when at rest than when exercising with sports drinks, containing sugar and salt, showing a marginally faster rate, at rest, yet similar time for complete absorption. In the light of the increased promotion of special water preparations, it is important to take notice that there are definite and proven health benefits from simply drinking more water and from changing fluid intakes from coffee, tea, alcohol, and hypertonic soft drinks to mineral or tap water. That cup of coffee first thing in the morning is best, perhaps, replaced by a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s a good way of stimulating your metabolism in the morning too.

If you do become severely dehydrated or suffer with heat exhaustion seek emergency medical care. However, if it is mild you can use your own Rehydration drink. This is how you make it:

Rehydration drink

To make 1 litre you will need:

  •  ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ¼ tsp of Lo Salt (Potassium chloride)
  • ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 tbsp of glucose powder (or good quality honey added when made)
  • 1 tsp of Cardamom pods, preferably powdered (green or black)
  • 1 tsp of Chamomile flowers, dried (or fresh if in season)
  • 1tbsp of Fennel seeds
  • 1tbsp of Peppermint leaves fresh or dried (any mint or lemon balm can also be used)


  • 1 glass bowl
  • 1 glass storage jar
  • 1 glass jug, 1-2 litre
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 clean cup or mug

All ingredients you can buy from a Supermarket, Healthfood store and Pharmacy

To make:

  1. Mix well the salts, dried herbs and glucose together in the glass bowl. If using honey omit at this stage.
  2. Place the blended mixture into the jug.
  3. Add 1 litre of just boiled water and allow the mixture to infuse for 10-15 minutes. The seeds and leaves will sink. If using honey add it to the infusion. Strain the drink into a cup or mug.
  4. Drink as much as possible to replace lost fluids. Always make a fresh batch of infusion and store any remaining at room temperature or in the fridge. Discard any remaining infusion after 24 hours.

Make a larger batch of herb and glucose/salt mixture; store it in an airtight container. This mixture should keep 4-6 months. You can also use this after vomiting or diarrhoea.

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Connecting with community

I took part in a local businesses “get to know” event earlier this week and it occurred to me. I know what herbal and holistic medicine is, yet how many people have little or no clue what it is? Or how it can help them?

I had my promotional material on the table – leaflets, business cards, posters to encourage the public to come and speak with me. I even offered free nutritional profiling and affordable ‘Taster Reiki treatments’ for a fiver… I just couldn’t give it away. Horses, water and drink did come to mind.

I could have got frustrated and annoyed, and did my best to untwiddle my thumbs and encourage folk to chat. And after a couple of hours of enjoying the sun shining and letting go of the need to ‘encourage and share’ the magic began to happen. And due to the Laws of Sod & Murphy, while I was eating my lunch – people started to ask questions and take leaflets and business cards.

There were various herbs to touch, smell and taste. Just to show people there were most definitely no bat’s wing, eye of newt or unicorn horn. And a few brave souls did experience the herbals attending. Liquorice root did seem the firm favourite. The main gripe some have with herbal medicines is their appearance and taste. Herbal medicines will look green or brown, will taste planty, earthy and occasionally bitter. However, our foods and medicinal herbs come in all colours of the rainbow. We’re so used to the aesthetically packaged and the clinically white pills of orthodox medicine.

Many people either don’t know or forget that many doctors of only 130 years ago prescribed herbal medicines. They wrote the prescription and you got it from the Apothecary shop; now they are called Pharmacies or Chemists. All pharmacists receive formulation training as part of their degree courses and all herbalists learn the same skills. Part of the reason I know this, one of my degrees involved pharmaceutical sciences…and the remainder of my extensive training has been in herbal medicine. The grass is definitely greener and sometimes sweeter on the herbal side of the fence.

We seem to have this obsession, with everything being perfect, pure, balanced and symmetrical – yet Mother Nature is anything but. Just look at your own face, take a real good look, one ear is slightly smaller and lower, an eye is a bit smaller and higher, your nose is naturally asymmetrical. Though it all works just fine, it’s only when we start to tweak that the issues begin – a bit of filler here, some botox there, an implant to stop gravity pulling you down…And temporarily, you look great and then it needs re-doing. Sadly, it’s the same with many processed foods. Filled with junk you can’t pronounce and then you need more to fill you up.

Most people associate how they feel with tastes, we all want life to be sweet, to be happy, to be effortless…no-one wants life to be hard work or to swallow that bitter pill of experience. It’s ingrained within us from infancy that sweet foods are good and more bitter ones are unpleasant. Is it any wonder we avoid some of the green vegetables? Yet we need them to have a balanced diet. And if we eat a balanced diet and use some kitchen herbs to enhance our culinary creations; herbal medicines and pharmaceutical medicines will be unnecessary. Hippocrates, a doctor in ancient Greece stated “Let medicine be your food, and your food medicine.”

A healthy diet is one of the free therapies of life. The others are:

  • Breathing, so many people have poor breathing habits
  • Exercise, the majority of people can walk
  • Relaxation, enjoy having a little quiet in your life every day and get a decent amount of sleep.
  • Laughter.

We can all enjoy these therapies, if you want them to be a chore; they will be – it’s up to you.

Making the following common sense changes to your life really do make a difference.

  • Pay as much attention to yourself as you do to others and everything in your life. Take a little time to just breathe and be; even if it‘s only 10 minutes.
  • Accept who you are, little bit by little bit; even the allegedly unpleasant parts.
  • Find just one thing a day to be thankful for every day.
  • Get rid of the junk in your life – out of your cupboards, your head and your life. If it doesn’t accept, nurture or support you; let it go.
  • Let go of what might be – nothing is worth stressing over at 3am in the morning.
  • Begin imagining your life as you want it, what are you really passionate about? Write it down and then forget about it.

Your life will start to change. What do you want to do with yours?

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Support for Herbal medicine in the UK

I need your help to support Herbal medicine in the UK.

Currently, herbal practitioners of the EHTPA (there are 1402 on the last count) are lobbying our ‘blessed’ Government, the Dept of Health in particular, to grant statutory regulation through the HPC. This process started over 10 yrs ago catalysed on the suggestion of the the UK medicines regulator, The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in response to an incoming EU directive.

The European Traditional Herbal Medicine Directive (THMD) in April 2011 will see the end of Section 12(2) of the Medicines Act, 1968 and with it the right of professional herbal practitioners to access finished medicines from manufacturers and herbal suppliers for prescription to individual patients. This includes all finished products such as medicinal herbal pills, tablets, capsules, dried herb mixtures and medicinal herbal ointments made up for individual patients by third-party suppliers.

So what does this mean to you?

This ability to order herbal medicinal products from suppliers for individual patients will only be available to statutory regulated health professionals. If statutory regulation of herbal/traditional medicine does not take place many patients will find that they will not be able to obtain their herbal medicines. If you use Chinese or Ayurvedic herbal medicines as finished products these will also disappear.

How does this affect people wanting to use herbal medicine?

Currently under threat are your (third-party) herbal prescription services that supply individualised compound herbal prescriptions (including mixed tinctures and dry herbal blends) to you as named patients at an herbal practitioner’s request. Although we would still be able to use simple tinctures, extracts and dried herbs as “starting materials‟ for your individualized prescriptions. However, this is far from ideal and could impact your health.

Imagine going to your GP and all they can work with is a basic First Aid Kit to address your health issues?

Over the past 40 years this “third-party” mode of supply has become an essential part of herbal medicine practice in the UK and many practitioners are totally reliant on such services. All that will remain will be herbal medicines we can make from herbs found locally and dispense from our own premises. This will lead to a severe loss of many herbs we currently use for herbal medicines.

ALL unlicensed Herbal medicines will disappear from the shelves in our High Streets or internet shops within the EU. Your freedom of choice in medicine is being taken away. You will only have access to treatments which are pharmaceutically based in order to treat your own and families ailments.

No Chinese herbs, no Ayurvedic (Indian) herbs, no Western herbs, NO MEDICINAL HERBS WHATSOEVER. All herbal medicine practitioners will lose access to the majority of the herbs and medicines on which they supply to their patients.

To solve this problem, the MHRA has proposed that third-party medicines supplied on request of practitioners for individual patients can continue under MHRA licence via Section 5.1 of the main European Medicines Act 2001/83/EC. The key point, however, is that this facility is only available to statutory regulated health professionals.

In short, if herbal practitioners were to secure “authorized health care professional‟ status through statutory regulation, they could legally commission herbal medicines from manufacturers for supply to their patients. These would have to be made to assured medicinal quality. The statutorily registered herbal practitioner would ensure high standards in the continued supply of the many useful traditional medicines for the benefit of your health.

What can you do to maintain your access to herbal medicines in the UK?

Three things you can do

1  Please sign the EHTPA petition
We are aiming to collect over 1 million signatures. Find your local herbalist or traditional medicines practitioner, ask to sign a copy of the petition. It will be presented to the Government in early December 2010.

Full details about the campaign can be found here

2  Write to your MP
Ask your MP to take up your concern with Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health. Emphasise the risk of loss of consumer choice, increased risk to the public of poor quality products and the negative regulatory impact on herbal businesses and any threat to jobs you can see in your constituency e.g. practitioners, businesses, suppliers.

Please ask him/her to seek reassurance that the statutory route with the Health Professions Council is proceeding.

3  Write to Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health
Emphasise that only “authorized health care professional‟ status that comes with statutory regulation will give the practitioner the legal right to do so. Statutory Regulation gives herbal/traditional medicine practitioners a legal position that will enable them to defend threatened herbal medicines which is difficult to do if we are legally indistinguishable from ordinary members of the public.

Statutory regulation will also prevent failing or unqualified practitioners from practising and enable high standards of training and CPD to be maintained across the whole of our sector.

Ask him to clarify the Department of Health’s schedule for granting statutory regulation with the Health Professions Council to herbalists and traditional medicines practitioners in the UK; allowing them to commission third-party herbal prescription services if necessary. Please also make the point that only statutory regulation with the Health Professions Council will allow the herbal practitioner to commission herbal medicines under the terms of Section 5.1 of Directive 2001/83/EC

Ask why the Government hasn’t published its findings of the “DOH Joint Consultation on the Report to Ministers from the DH Steering Group on the Statutory Regulation of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Other Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK”? The consultation ended over 11 months ago.

Although some herbalists are philosophically opposed to any form of regulation, it is unrealistic to imagine that we can continue to have rights to prescribe herbal medicines without satisfactory, recognisable legal status. Throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, UK herbalists fought an on-going battle to gain a secure legal basis for their right to practice and access their herbal medicines.

  • It is everyone’s birth-right to choose herbal medicines to treat health conditions in the UK. 

Your children and grand-children should have the same choice and access to herbal medicines as you do now.

By supporting this campaign to lobby the Government on the statutory regulation of herbal and traditional medicines you are preserving our rights and herbal traditions in the UK. More importantly you are preserving our right to choose.

Although herbalists and shops will still be able to sell existing herbal medicine stock, inevitably, these stocks will dry up and leave a shortage of supply on the market. Eventually, all herbal medicines will disappear from the shelves of suppliers and shops.

It’s not a done-deal, at least, not quite.

  • If you value your access to herbs, or if you care about access to herbal supplements, please take action.

Even if these issues seem meaningless to you, consider the people who do care. Should they be denied the right to the medical treatment and health maintenance of their choice?

Should herbal medicine practitioners be denied the right to practise as they do now – safely, competently and professionally?

It’s up to us—each and every one of us—to take action

So what are you waiting for?

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