Recently I took part in a beach combing survival course on the shores of Loch Fyne.
Here are my reflections on the course:
Recently I took part in a beach combing survival course on the shores of Loch Fyne.
Here are my reflections on the course:
Have you ever wondered why some people are milk intolerant but can take goats milk? We have been told that they do not produce the rennet as they grow older. The rennet is acidic and curdles milk ready for digestion. Then we were told that it is the lactose or milk sugar. Yet human milk contains up to twice the lactose of cows or goats milk. Goats milk contain only about 10% less lactose than cows milk. So is lactose the answer?
We might have to go back to the breeding of cows to understand why so many Western people are milk intolerant. On a world-wide scale cows are less common than goats, sheep, buffalo, yaks, reindeer and other mammals that produce milk that humans consume.
Most of the proteins in milk are called caseins. In European herds, particularly Friesan and Holstein there is a strain of protein called alpha s1 beta casein. By breeding out these strains a major milk producer has encouraged a strain of cow that produces a2 beta casein. Goats naturally produce this casein anyway.
If you find that you suffer from bloating, nausea, diarrhoea and constipation try staying off dairy for 2 weeks then switching to a2 milk that is now available in some shops. Also be aware of cheeses. Again stay off cheese for 2 to 3 weeks then try goats cheese or some of the Alpine high pasture cheeses.
One of the hardest times in living with cancer is the shadow time. For instance a physician might find an abnormal reading in a blood test. Physicians have a duty to tell their patients if they find anything out of the “normal” ranges. They make a diagnosis by asking for further tests to rule out more serious diseases. The skill in being a physician is to positively reassure patients that nothing is proven until it is found, but to maintain a rigorous investigation until the most likely cause is known. All that has to be done in a consultation time of up to ten minutes!
You might have gone through this experience. The surgery phones to call you in to see them. The investigation has begun. Your imagination moves through all the possible causes. The big questions are: Is it a false alarm? If it is true, where is it? If it has spread, where is it now? If you are in that situation think about it this way.
You might have one of those unspecific conditions such as a virus, a slipped disc, arthritis or a frozen shoulder. You might have a cyclical condition for instance breasts can swell and go lumpy before a period, an ovary might swell at around ovulation. Abdominal pain referring to the back might increase because of constipation after taking codeine based pain killers. Incidentally lumpy breasts before a period might be helped by cutting caffeine taking vitamin E or foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, wheatgerm or hazelnuts all of which are high in vitamin E. Men also suffer cyclical conditions too. Their hormones and moods also fluctuate. Did you know that the highest natural hormone production is early in the morning between 4.30 and 5.30 am?
You might have something more serious but why spoil today by letting your imagination play with tomorrow? Once a diagnosis has been made you have something to overcome. A friend of mine had a rare condition called Charcot Marie Tooth disease. It can cause loss of feeling from the knees and elbows downwards and difficulty in walking because of the development of the feet. He went to a help group but never again. Everyone had a negative story to tell. He arranged funding from his company to come and see me over two years. We worked on developing a healthy spine, mobilised all the major joints, balanced the pelvic muscles and best of all improved his rotation to help with his golf. Most of the credit must go to him for setting specific goals, taking up swimming and golf lessons. Over the period of treatment his golf handicap went down by 11 points! You would not know that he had an “incurable condition”.
What if the tests come back as cancer? For many of us the fear of cancer is much greater than the process of managing or overcoming it. A friend said to me, “The fear of cancer can kill you.” Let’s go back to the beginning, What type is it? What organ or joint or tissues does it affect? Is it likely to have spread? Can you combine orthodox medical treatment with complementary therapies? Who can you associate yourself with who has fought and won or taken life on the chin in a positive way? Someone said to me, “Healing begins in the mind”.
People use words and body language to describe pain. An ache is often a muscle, a sharp, intense pain on movement is often a ligament. A deadness, fizzy feeling or deep ache is often an irritated nerve. They say things like, It is in the bone, I feel like a body with a back pain attached. This kind of pain has an emotional as well as a physical component. Most pain goes back to a change of lifestyle, car seat, a different bed on holiday, a sitting job instead of an active job. It aggravates an old accident or life trauma that often happened many years ago. Loss of confidence and self-esteem, a fear of cancer or that an illness might happen again are carried in our memory. Past criticism burns a groove in our memories. The biggest trauma might be when someone we thought loved us has chosen to move out of our life or fallen out through separation or bereavement. Their going is a kind of criticism of us. Inability to take criticism leads to resentment or unreality. When someone devastates us by word or action perhaps we could ask ourselves, Is there any truth in their critical action? Do they see something in us that we don’t see in ourselves? It is like looking out of a house through an open window. Those on the outside can equally well look into our lives and see the whole house with all of its windows. Perhaps they have opened a window to our vulnerable side? Criticism is always based on an incomplete view. The person who criticises us does not see into our hearts, does not know the intensity of our concerns, our fears and doubts. They do not know the memories that we carry. Yet they might simply come to see me with “upper chest pain of non-cardiac origin” to use medical jargon. Their abdomen might be churning with anxiety and their immune system out of balance. 70% of our immune system functions within the abdominal area. Our digestive system is lined with proteins called neuropeptides that signal into the nervous system. The same neuropeptides might be found in the joints of the knees or the jaw. Acupuncture can help to switch the autonomic nervous system either on or off. Gentle but deep abdominal massage helps to release tension and to improve digestion. There is a different between automatic and autonomic. Automatic is like a car that simply drives harder when you push the accelerator down. Autonomic is like the cruise control that relies on constant feedback to keep your car at a level speed. Try listening to the feedback in your body. Un-focus your vision to take in everything around you and respond in a positive way. Direct your mind to think on a positive outcome for every challenge or criticism. Turn crises into opportunities to demonstrate love in a practical way. Someone said to me, Why do I have to love him when I don’t like him.” That is the root challenge of all human relationships. Liking is a feeling. Love is an action based on commitment either to a person, an animal or higher values that see the good in acting from a loving way. It sad that in Egypt the demonstrations always seem to come after Friday prayers. What kind of God do they encounter in Friday prayers that stirs so much intense feeling? Perhaps they do not encounter a true God at all, only a pale human reflection?
Parents occasionally bring children (or even early teenage years) because of bed wetting. There is plenty of advice on the internet but one often overlooked factor is the pelvic ligaments putting a strain on the bladder. When you are a foetus your bladder descends from your umbilicus as your body uncurls. The bladder remains partially suspended from a ligament called uracus. That is one possible area of tension. Another area is the large pelvic bones themselves. If a muscle strain is one sided it might draw one pelvic bone down and forwards, like a pulley wheel rotating. This was a finding in each case of children with bladder control issues. It is also common in adults. Another factor is to look at the feet. One foot persistently rotating outwards when standing or lying on the back indicates short pelvic muscles. Sometimes this is called piriformis syndrome. The common factor in the children was frequent use of a trampoline. When tampolines first became popular a number of parents both came to me themselves and then with their children for rebalancing the hips. In most cases the trampoline was not accurately levelled using a spirit level. Trampolines are good exercise but not appropriate for constant use. Skipping or jumping are alternative that strengthen your ligaments and tendons, especially the achilles. Ligaments join bones to bones and stabilise joints. Tendons are more elastic and join muscles to bone.
Scoliosis is an S shaped curve in the spine. Sometimes it is pronounced, possibly genetic, related to an underlying condition or a result of trauma. Sometimes it is functional and varies in shape. In many instances the scoliosis can be made more comfortable or even reduced by balancing the sacrum between the ilia or pelvic bones. Pilates is good for scoliosis.
All sports put a repetitive strain into the body. Golf is one example. As the whole of the golf swing involves rotation why not work on it? Limited rotation of your rib cage puts a strain on your hips, shoulders and makes you cock your wrist even more than you need to. We will put some exercises on the site soon but come and see me if you are local to Milton Keynes.
The hamstrings are three muscles that run from your sitting bones and the top of your leg bones (femurs) They cross your knees at the back. Imagine the pulley wheels again. If one pelvic bone is rotated forwards the hamstrings will never relax and bend your leg.Work on the warrior stretches in yoga, the trichonasana, triangle and reverse traingle are great stretches. So are the piriformis stretches.
There are lots of stretches and good yoga practice on the website: Ekhart Yoga
Someone asked if the sacrum getting “stuck” between the ilia was a design fault. On the contrary it is a brilliance of design but with a compromise. You walk because your spinal vertebrae rotate. They are the engine that provides the power to move. The rotation or torque is passed into your sacrum, the fused bones at the base of your spine. The sacrum is not attached by muscles to the ilia but passes this energy straight through the piriformis muscles into the femur causing your hips to rock and your legs to swing. If you run a mid-foot strike is more efficient than a heel strike. Increasingly I use trainers for mountain walking unless the weather is challenging. The energy from striking your foot on the ground is passed back to the middle bone of the outer arch in your feet. It is called the cuboid. This energy travels up the fibula and IT band back into the pelvic muscles to counter balance the torsion or twisting energy of your spine. Rotating your shoulders and swinging your arms counter balances and neutralises the torsion. Constantly carrying a bag on one shoulder or keeping your arms still not only affects your neck and shoulders but makes your movement harder work. People with a hip strain often have a shoulder strain as well.
Someone came with one shoulder “clicking” and the other one weak from an injury. He was waiting for an operation. Commonly the arm bone (humerus) slips a tiny bit forward or down onto the lip of cartilage at the front of the capsule. It is called the Labrum (Latin for lip). If you concentrate on strengthening biceps, triceps and your deltoids you will stabilise the arm bone. Always lift with the palm of your hand or your thumb, facing upwards. Your shoulder will be stable as long as you engage your biceps. The word bicep means “Two heads”. It refers to the two tendons, one long tendon runs across the head of the humerus onto the scapula or shoulder blade. The other tendon runs from the bump on the scapula just under the front of the collar bone.
Watching body builders in the gym, without exception, they fail to gain advantage from their breathing and from making full use of their muscles. When you breathe in it is not just your lungs but every cell in your body that respires. Your body expands a little. When you breathe out every cell in your body expires. Weight lifters often hold their breath to turn their bodies into a kind of piston, then suddenly expire. This puts up their blood pressure dramatically and cuts off oxygen to their muscles. Tip: Breath out as you exert yourself and you will not exceed the weights that your body was designed to lift. Roughly speaking we should be able to move our own body weight. Tip: Put your muscles through their full range of movement. Have you seen body builders do biceps curls? It is a short movement aimed at increasing the bulk of the muscles. You would last longer in life if you put your muscles through a full range of movement when you lift. Slowly lowering weights after the lift has a better result than lifting under impulse.
Babies are not simplistic in their needs. They are fully developed human beings with the ability to express their needs without our “language skills”. They look wrinkled because they are in transition from a weightless water world to a world governed by the laws of gravity. They are thinking, trying to make sense of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions around them. We nearly always look at people’s faces when they are the same way up as ourselves. Babies often have to contend with faces peering at them from all angles. Try sitting above a baby’s head and looking at them carefully “upside down”. Notice the symmetry or otherwise of the head and face. Gently place your hands around their head, obviously with the parent’s agreement. Ease your touch until you become aware of another movement. It is like a slow, gentle wave that appears to change the pressure in the head. This is called the craniosacral rhythm. It is a fluid that protects the brain and allows it to remain in a fluid world. During the first 20 minutes of life the baby starts to re-organise their nervous system. The lungs erupt to welcome their first breath of air. The fluid around the brain starts to flow as it feeds into the spinal chord, nourishes the nerves. An adult will produce, and re-absorb about half a litre a day. The Early osteopaths called the driving force of this fluid the breath of life. Osteopaths emphasise the huge amount of anatomy required to understand the subtle workings of the body. The Upledger Institute run some great course to teach lay people the techniques of contacting the fluid and gently re-directing it to unblock areas of sluggish activity. The skills are best learned in a group but there is some common-sense intuitive feedback that babies themselves will give you. If they hold their heads or push your hand away when you touch certain areas they are telling you that they feel uncomfortable pressure. Let me explain to you what a therapist might be doing. We sometimes gently spread the fingers of one hand either side of this area and direct the fluid to the area from the opposite side of the head. We let the fluid pressure do the work from the inside. Sometimes a baby will show “projectile poohing”, really uncomfortable and straining then a sudden explosion. The muscles around the anal sphincter are sometimes underdeveloped. Gentle stimulation with the little finger, preferably with a glove on will sometimes stimulate the reflex. Sometime a baby will only feed on one breast preferring to turn their head one way. It could be that a caesarean birth has not subjected the back of the neck to a strong manipulation during the final point of delivery. The occipital bones at the back of the head are four at first then slowly fuse into one bone by the age of three. A therapist might gently spread these bones while directing the fluid or place their fingers under the back of the skull and exert pressure to release the joint. You might find extreme discomfort after feeding breast milk. It is possible that you have switched breasts too soon so the baby only has the sweet milk not the rich fatty milk. They might be suffering from a sugar overload. Either changing your way of breast feeding or using formula will relieve the problem.
There is a move towards lumpy feeding, allowing a baby to try foods whole and chew their way through them. It is alarming to see them gag and spit the food out but if they can do this before ten months they are less likely to choke later. Be careful with food of the additives, especially salt. We watched a mother giving their baby a lump of cheddar to eat, unaware that their kidneys can not cope with that amount of salt. If you read labels carefully the sodium content is stated but not allows the salt content. You need to measure by the 100gm and at least double the sodium to allow for the chloride element. A mild cheddar might contain 1.5gm of salt. A vintage cheddar could contain 7gm of salt!
Phytic acid binds phosphorous into foods as a way of storing it. Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid. It is found mainly in bran and the coating of nuts and seeds. It is also found in soya. Phytic acid binds calcium, zinc and magnesium making them poorly absorbed. Thinking through why some people suffer a bloated abdomen after eating bread made me wonder if phytic acid and bran, not gluten, are making it indigestible. Reading through one of our favourite old cook books called Laurel’s Kitchen I found some comments on phytic acid. In essence if you allowing bread dough to rise at least twice not only improves the flavour but breaks down the phytic acid and makes the bread more comfortable on your digestion. The soft “pappy” bread that is fast proven is probably the cause of much discomfort. Try sour dough or stone baked or simply slowly make your own bread. Laurel pointed out that even in Denmark the government at the time provided starter dough for rye bread to ensure that phytic acid was broken down.
At one time wheat bran was added to horse feeds. Sadly many horses suffered severe colic. Changing the bran source to linseed (flax) remove the source of the colic. Horses “discovered” the benefits of linseed long before us. Even Ghandi said that the health of a nation improved with linseed.
Nuts and seeds are generally processed in some form before we see them. Cashew nuts are roasted in ovens fuelled by cashew nut oil. Peanuts are best eaten in peanut butter or lightly roasted. They are often regarded more as a vegetable in Africa.
A recent broken finger tip taught me a number of lessons that I would like to share with you. Winter camping on a beach in Anglesey is a wonderful experience, the stars, the stillness of the night, the spray frozen into a sculpture of leaves on the beach, the feeling that perhaps there were otters nearby in the stream as it rushed into the sea, the neolithic chambered tomb casting a shadow behind the road in the moonlight. I was due to join a sea kayaking leadership course but sadly slammed a numb finger in the car door not aware that it was resting inside the door frame. A weekend in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor hospital convinced me that human kindness combined with humour and skill in surgery go a long way to promote healing. I left in good spirits confident that even though the weekend was not what I expected we can live the present and handle each moment as it arrives. If you ever find yourself injured try the following lessons:
Ask yourself does bleeding help to clean the wound? Then let it bleed long enough to wash out some of the dirt before you apply pressure to close the wound and elevate the limb. Use sterile salted water or spring water to wash the wound if you have it to hand. Be aware that if your injuries are serious like in a fall, you will go into shock. It might be the loss of fluids, a sudden drop in blood pressure, or simply the nausea dawning on you of what has happened. I once felt shock coming on so I crawled into the warm sunshine simply to let the heat and light cheer me up while I thought through what to do next. Once you have the bleeding under control, think through what might else might be missing or needed next. Go through a mental check list as to what you will need when help arrives. It might be something as simple as collecting your glasses, some clean water, your wallet and a good book to keep your mind occupied. Take care of other people around you. They might not be feeling as confident as you about the situation. I once rescued someone who had capsized in a sea kayak, by wading up to my neck and reaching out with a kayak paddle. I did not know at the time that he had been drinking. Everyone made a fuss of him with dry clothes, bundled him into the Land rover and took him off for a warm bath and sweet tea. Meanwhile they left me on the beach in bare feet, half dressed, soaked through, having to run two miles on a newly tarred, stone chipped road back to their croft on a cold, windy Orkney day.
Talk to your body, tell it that the blood is going to start clotting, that the troop of the immune system the neutrophils and other leukocytes are arriving at the scene to mop up up infections. Your immune system is going into action to engulf the foreign invaders. Triggers in the damaged tissues are sending messages to your liver to send reactive oxygen species. They almost act like a micro bleach killing micro-organisms. If the skin is not broken try keeping a cold dressing on to restraint the excesses of inflammation. If the skin has been broken avoid keeping it cold for too long. It will slow down the needed inflammatory process. Concentrate on keeping the wound and surrounding area as clean as you can. For kayaking or wilderness situations a condom and a rubber band are very useful for keeping water out. I personally would never tattoo my skin. Apart from the aesthetic side I believe that tattooed skin is not going to heal well.
Find a surgeon who will set the bones accurately. In my experience hospitals that handle helicopter deliveries and trauma from mountain or sea accidents have excellent orthopaedic surgeons. Many people have been to see me after going to A & E departments that have not addressed the basic issue of ensuring that bones are carefully matched together. Bones that are kept in alignment but subject to gentle stresses will heal much faster and stronger. Osteoblasts are special cells in the surface or periosteum that lay down new bone. In 1892 Julias Wolf observed that bones grow along the lines of stress placed upon them. In practice bones need dynamic stress in the form of compression, bending and torsion or twisting to grow strong. The practice in yoga of applying strong twists to the body also strengthens your bones. Keeping a bone in plaster for six weeks is a dubious practice that only wastes the surrounding muscle tissues. In most case two weeks would be enough time to transfer to a sling or protective bandage. A lady once came to see me holding her left humerus (arm bone) in two pieces. It had been removed from plaster only to find that it had not healed in the slightest. Careful manipulation through the skin and suggested use of the triceps and biceps muscles to stabilise the arm soon set it on the road to recovery.
Listen to your pain. It limits your activity and acts as a messenger. Personally I believe that the best use of pain killers is to help us get to sleep. Above that we should keep the use of pain killers and anti-biotics to when we really need them.
Take supplements to help you heal. The following regime brought about bone healing in less than five weeks: 2 gm of MSM to repair and remodel collagen, 120 mg Gingko Biloba and anti-oxidant that improves blood flow, 500 mg of lysine and 3 mg of Arginine / 150 mg pantothenic acid B5.
For those of you who are interested I enclose some pictures of how a broken, carefully stitched finger can heal. Thank you to the surgeon Mr Thati and your team at Ysbyty Gwynedd.
The freedom to walk is a basic human right. For many people that freedom is curtailed because of complications after a hip replacement, pain in hip muscles, “piriformis syndrome”, “osteitis pubis”, weight gain through being unable to exercise or chronic fatigue syndrome. From meeting thousands of people with hip pain I honestly think that too many hip replacements were really to do with hip muscle imbalances creating tensions that led to wear in one hip joint or both sides. These comments came from a lady who has made a remarkable recovery after 4 years of suffering not only from hip pain but from negative comments and labels like osteitis pubis and, You will be in a wheelchair next and need a hip operation. Why can we not address the imbalances and give people hope instead of drugs and pessimistic prognosis?
I would like to express my gratitude to John for giving me my life
back as I haven’t been able to walk for four years due to muscle
damage, doctors couldn’t help me and had to look forward to a
wheelchair for my future. Thank you John for caring about my illness
and getting me back walking again.
I am forever grateful, Gillian Lewis, South Wales.
The first bread that I baked resembled a house brick, fortunately I persevered. My bread improve when I discovered the following principles:
Choose strong flour that is within its best before date and sieve it before you use it. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than general baking flour. That is why it is called strong flour. Canadian wheat will be 13% or over. Organic strong flour will be about 11-12% gluten. Baking flour will be 9-10% gluten.
Use either fresh yeast or dried powdered yeast. Always add powdered yeast dry and always activate fresh yeast or granules with warm water and honey or sugar. It is better to use less yeast and prove it for longer than make yeasty bread.
Mix everything in a warm room. If you want to cut down the time don’t touch the dough. Try a mixer or blender and use metal spoons. If wholemeal bread is too heavy try the following recipe, it makes two good sized loaves:
Sieve 900 gm of white organic bread flour. Mix in 100 gm of wheatgerm. Wheatgerm contains the B vitamins, and vitamin E. Wheat bran is not that good for you as it contains phytic acid that binds up calcium and other minerals reducing their absorption. Adding the wheatgerm and leaving out the bran makes a lighter, nutritious loaf. You find more digestible soluble fibre from sources such as oatbran, pectin (the fibre in fleshy fruit), linseed (flax), and vegetables.
Dissolve 2 level teaspoons of salt into warm water. Add into more warm water to make 700 ml in total. Add 6 tablespoons of oil. I use a mix of organic rape seed and extra virgin olive oil.
Mix the dried yeast well into the flour or add the starter yeast mixture. Pour the oil, warm water and salt mixture into the flour and yeast mixture. Set the mixer or blender on slow for up to five minutes or until the dough is sticky and elastic. Or lightly flour a board and Knead by hand until the dough is elastic. Cover with a lightly oiled bag (I use a shopping bag), and leave in a warm place for several hours. Once the dough has risen at least double, Knock it back and cut into two parts. Lay each part into a greased 2lb load tin. I rub butter around the sides of the tins, it gives a good crust.
Leave to rise again in a draught free place until the surface feels light and some bubbles appear under the surface.
Carefully place in a pre-heated fan oven at 180 degrees C. and bake for 40 minutes. A non-fan oven might need 190 to 200 degrees. Knock the bread out of the tins and leave on a wire rack to cool. Cover with a clean tea towel if you need to leave it.