Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) or Complex Regional Pain Disorder (CRPD) is an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS responds to stimuli, trauma, sudden insults, or viruses and other toxic substances. The signals travel to the brain from proprioceptors or through injured parts of the body. The limbic system that controls emotional or sub conscious responses activates the skin, hair, and smooth muscles like the colon or bladder. The activating part is called the sympathetic or stimulating nervous system. Imagine a car accelerator. The calming part is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Imagine a car brake or gravity pulling down and a parachute braking your descent through the air.

An over reaction or long term (chronic) response in the sympathetic nervous system is exhausting for the systems in your body. You might feel an itchy burning sensation or pain that persists long after the initial cause has subsided. An acute response might include sweating, raised hairs, goose bumps and swelling. In a chronic response the skin might go dry and stiff with loss of muscle strength and tone.

To address the issues we need to understand where the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves come from. The sympathetic nerves largely come from the spinal chord under your ribcage. The ganglia or nerve junction boxes lie just under your ribs. If one of your ribs has been dislodged by only a fraction the nerves will be acutely painful. Often people are tested for heart disease because of chest pain when the sympathetic nerves are on edge. At the very base of your neck there are some nerves that supply the eyes. Near there are receptors that help to govern your heart rate. In your middle ribcage some nerves affect your digestion.

The parasympathetic nerves originate from the area under your sacrum at the base of your back and just under your skull at the top of your neck. The vagus nerve also wanders down your neck, emerging from a gap in your skull between the bony bump behind your ears (mastoid), and the bones at the back of your head (the occiput).

So what can help us to balance the two systems?

Yoga twists especially seated, help to unlock the ribcage releasing the sympathetic nerves and squeezing your inner organs like the liver to refresh the blood flow. Lying on a yoga block or rolled up towel can also open up your rib cage.

Chiropractic or Osteopathic manipulation helps to release the facet joints that sometimes lock the spine and affect the nerves.

Massage especially with firm pressure from experienced hands helps to unlock the spinal sympathetic nerves.

Skin brushing or stroking has a calming effect giving feedback to the spinal nerves.

Massage just under the skull and around the sacrum helps to calm the nervous system and release the parasympathetic nerves. For instance the sexual organs are stimulated by the nerves at the junction between ribs and lumbar and given intense pleasure from the nerves that emerge from the sacrum.

Acidity of the bloodstream can affect the autonomic nervous system. The blood passes through receptors and proprioceptors that trigger responses in the ANS. I once treated an environmental health officer who suffered from digestive upsets since giving up smoking. We successfully unlocked the ribcage through manipulation and improved the breathing through the diaphragm. He still had some irritable bowel disorder. I put him on a teaspoon of Aspalls cider vinegar before meals with meat and other proteins and fats in them. Cider vinegar contains malic acid that helps digestion of fats and assists the hydrochloric acid in the stomach to break down proteins into peptides. Smoking had probably changed the acidity of his bloodstream. His digestion made a dramatic improvement.


Colic & wind in babies

A baby is in the process of transition from feeding via the placenta to feeding from the breast or bottle. The digestive tract of some babies is immature and not yet ready for the transition. Colic might be caused by an inability to digest the lactose in milk either from the breast or bottle. Lactase enzyme is available in drop form. If your baby has had anti-biotics their natural gut bacteria might be wiped out. Probiotics help to colonise the gut with beneficial bacteria. You could try Probio easy from Higher Nature. Green or yellow pooh might indicate bile in the stools meaning that the digestion is immature. White, chalky pooh is more serious. Sometimes a baby simply cannot get started in the first week of life. There are circular muscles around the anus that have to tense and relax. If they suffer from “projectile poohing” you can massage around the anus or put a glove on and use your little finger.It stimulates the reflex of the levator ani muscles and makes life easier for them.
Be aware with breast feeding that whatever is in your bloodstream will find its way into your infants body. Orange juice for instance might bring them out in spots. A mother I know went back to karate and her baby suffered colic. The lactic acid build up in her bloodstream affected the breast milk upsetting her baby.

Baby massage is of benefit. work in a clockwise direction around the abdomen, better still go to a class to learn.
If you live in Kent, UK, Remi Creed is a great teacher:

If you live within reach of Milton Keynes go and see Vanya:

or come to the clinic here. I do an after the birth check up for both mother and baby for the price of one session. I have developed a technique which I call ‘the wheelbarrow”. Holding the feet with one hand I work up the spine pressing with two fingers either side. Often when I reach T6 / T7 I find that the baby reacts by crying or goes quite. Gently mobilising this area has a positive response in quietening them down.
Birth Trauma is a major factor in subsequent colic. Imagine being in the womb while your mother is pumped with pethidin, injected with an epidural and put under anaesthetic. Imagine being stuck in a spine to spine (posterior) delivery then forcibly pulled out. Perhaps your hand is on your forehead at the same time? All these chemicals and hormones are in your bloodstream and have to be expelled through the urine or digestive tract.
If your baby is suffered go and see either a cranial osteopath or a craniosacral therapist. They might well hold the key to unlocking a peaceful life for your child.

Immune System – Eat foods in Season

Learn a lesson from the trout

My first ever trout on a fly (beadhead green Montana)
My fish ever trout on a fly (beadhead green Montana)

“When you first come to the river in the morning, with your rod beat upon the bushes or boughs which hang over the water, and by falling upon the water you will see what sorts of flies are there in greatest numbers. If divers sorts, and equal in numbers, try them all, and you will quickly find which they most desire. Sometimes they change their fly, though not very usual, twice or thrice in one day; but ordinarily they do not seek another sort of fly til they have some days even glutted themselves with a former kind, which is commonly when those flies die and go out.

Directly contrary to our London gallants, who must have the first of everything, when hardly to be got, but scorn the same when kindly ripe, healthful, common and cheap; but the fish despise the first, and covet when plenty, and when that sort grow old and decay, another cometh in plentifully, then they change; as if nature taught them, that every thing is best in its own proper season, and not so desirable when not kindly ripe, or when through long continuance it begins to lose its native worth and goodness.”

Quoted from  “The Experienced Angler”, by Robert Venables 1662. I found this quote in “Hook, Line and Sinker”, Shelley Klein, Michael O’Mara Books Ltd,  2001.

Immune System Protection

Why do some people rarely suffer from colds and flu but others suffer badly?
Here are some ideas to build a healthy immune system:

    • Get enough sleep in Winter, catnap for 15-20 minutes during the day if you do not sleep for long enough at night.
    • Avoid overheating or shutting the door of your bedroom or sleeping area. Open the window a fraction if you have to shut the door. I sleep outside about 2 nights a week, even on the snow, or in the rain (in a bivouac bag). I have not suffered a chill or flu for many years.
    • Practice good hygiene if anyone close to you does have a virus. Keep your eating & drinking utensils separate, use the dishwasher or heat plates and cups over 83 degrees C. Dispose of tissues carefully. Avoid getting too close to friends or family when they are infectious.
    • Eat highly nutritious foods – Vary your diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in season, nuts, seeds eg. tahini (from sesame seeds), eggs, Dark green vegetables and cauliflower contain calcium & folic acid. Brightly coloured vegetables and dark blue or red fruits contain anthocyanidins. Eat  a selection of nuts every day. (1. nuts are also good for your heart). Almonds contain antioxidants such as flavonoids & quercitin. as some vegetables. Avoid salted, roasted nuts, they are deep fried in palm oil and sprayed with salt. Mangoes contain lots of beta-carotine a vegetable form of vitamin A. Orange and red vegetables contain carotinoids. If your diet is high in fruit, nuts and veg. it does not leave room for lots of meat. Cook a quality chicken, simmer the bones to make stock and make a soup every week. Regularly take a spoonful of wheatgerm (high in vitamin E) and oatbran (high in soluble fibre).
    • Drink real coffee, (it protects against liver cancer), and tea (green tea if you like it). 3 cups of caffeine drinks a day is wise. Drink red grapefruit juice (take care, grapefruit can make some drugs especially heart drugs more effective). Grape juice contains reservtrol. Smoothies are good but the high fructose can lead to a very loose bowel. Fructose or fruit sugar contains oligosaccharides – short chain sugars that are hard to digest.
    • Enjoy sugar, especially the darker honeys. There is a simple rule as to whether sugar is good or bad for you, Does it stick to your teeth afterwards? If it sticks to your teeth it is likely to be processed. Processed sugars make your blood sugar  levels fluctuate wildly.

1.  Fraser GE, Sabate J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(7):1416-1424.  (PubMed)

If you do feel that you are coming down with a virus try the following:

  • Rest and sleep as much as you can. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Allow your temperature to rise to engulf the virus, but not above 40 degrees C.
  • Take simple pain killers if you need to.
  • Avoid infecting everyone else.
  • Mentally tell your immune system to go into action. Your first line of defence is by making fluids, phlegm, streaming nose. Your second line of defence is swollen glands. You might feel a sore throat swollen muscles leading to a stiff neck or aching calf muscles. Your third line of defence is the white blood cells. Lymphocytes, neutrophils, leukotrienes are examples. B lymphocytes are the troops sent in to engulf viruses and their larger cousins bacteria. T lymphocytes are the generals who remember the last campaign and send in the right troops. That is why some of the recent viruses have affected younger people. Older people have come across many of them before.
  • Believe in yourself, listen to your body. Don’t eat comfort junk food. You will get better and stronger.

Fertility, Miscarriage

Chances of fertility and risks of Miscarriage

Smoking and exposure to smoke is the highest risk factor of both infertility and miscarriage. The chances of becoming pregnant are lower the longer and the more you have smoked. Cigarettes contain over 100 potentially carcinogenic compounds. The smoke contains heavy metals that can lead to brain damage. cigarettes cause a small amount of carbon monoxide to enter your bloodstream. Haemoglobin carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide attaches readily to haemoglobin and literally exhaust the foetus (and your own cells) starving them of oxygen,leading to low birth weight and possible brain damage. Need I write more?


Miscarriage is the loss of a foetus / unborn child before 24 weeks of pregnancy. It is both physically and emotionally distressing. Closure, or saying goodbye to a lost unborn child is important. A formal, or informal funeral service often helps to soften the blow and enable the parents to continue trying for a child. The causes of miscarriage are not clear but in most cases the unborn child was not ready to come into this world.

  • Genetic abnormality (corruption of the DNA)
  • An ectopic pregnancy
  • A poorly formed placenta or poor nutrition between the placenta and foetus
  • A placenta that lies too low and blocks the cervix
  • Endometriosis – Endometriosis is the type of tissue that lines the womb growing elsewhere
  • Some fibroids depending on the size and where they are sited – A fibroid is a non-cancerous growth  attached to the uterus, either inside or outside
  • Stretched ligaments
  • Infections that affect the pelvis
  • In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), kidney, liver blood, stomach or spleen qi deficiency, can all affect the growth of the foetus
  • An ectopic pregnancy – caused by the fertilised egg growing in the fallopian tubes
  • Low progesterone levels are also thought to affect the outcome of pregnancy
  • Overwork, irregular eating and working long hours is often overlooked as a cause of infertility or miscarriage. Women who cannot moderate a driven lifestyle or ease off on a punishing fitness regime are more likely to miscarry.

Before you get alarmed, unborn babies are remarkably resilient and survive conditions or accidents that would affect many adults far worse. They are living in a water bath cushioned from the outside world but sensitive to vibration, music, nutrition and stress.

Spotting or bleeding during pregnancy should be investigated. However some women go through a light period in pregnancy at the time when it was due. A urinary tract infection might also lead to blood in the urine. Consult your midwife or GP if you have any doubts.

How to minimise the risks

DNA and Genetics

Genetic abnormality might be inherited and have nothing to do with your personal health. but the risk of corrupting the DNA (coding or blueprint), increases with age, and abuse by for instance alcohol and recreational drugs. Alcohol is potentially poisonous to the foetus particularly at a very early stage of development. Either cut out or lower your alcohol intake if you want the best for your future child.


Several studies have shown that taking anti-oxidants increasing the motility of semen (ability to swim). Studies on taking astaxanthin and and on selenium have shown positive benefits for men. Vitamin E or alphatocopherol was originally called the fertility vitamin. The richest source is to take a dessert spoon of wheatgerm a day. Other sources include sunflower seeds (39 mg/100g), almonds (24 mg/100g), hazelnuts (25 mg/100g), olive oil, groundnut oil. Other great sources of anti-oxidants are mangoes, dark blue berries and other fruits, peppers, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, most fruit and vegetables. Green vegetables contain folic acid, again helpful for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Vegetarians have a higher sperm count that big meat eaters.

Under weight or Overweight

Being underweight can cause difficulties in having a period and therefore conception. I suggest that a BMI (body mass index) of 23 to 29 is a good range. The body stores oestrogen in fatty tissues so athletic and anorexic women are less likely to ovulate and have a period. Their calcium / magnesium levels are also low leading to bone loss. A study) on eclampsia (Sudden rise in blood pressure leading to fits) in late pregnancy, showed that magnesium was effective in controlling the fits.
Being overweight carries other risks such increased pain and discomfort, with a higher risk of diabetes and an oversize baby. I do not know whether it carries a higher risk of miscarriage.


Acupuncture when trying for a baby or to support IVF can be very helpful. In the first 6 days after fertilisation the egg needs increased blood flow to the endometrium. Selective acupuncture helps to improve blood flow to the small pelvis. Then a period of quietness is needed as the fertilised egg builds up cells around it to embed into the uterine wall. This is the time for not intervening. Acupuncture, acupressure and its related moxibustion (applying heat through burning moxa), can be used to lessen the chance of spontaneous abortion (if the cervix has not already dilated). Moxa (BL 67), is also helpful to turn a baby.

Stretched ligaments

The uterus sits slightly above and behind the bladder. It is covered by by both broad and round ligaments that gently anchor it to the walls of the pelvis. Some attachments run back to the sacrum, the wedge shaped bone at the base of the spine. Other supporting ligaments run from behind the pubic bones to the coccyx / sacrum. The fallopian tubes sit loosely in the pelvic bowl. If the sacrum is rotated (in torsion), between the ilia or hip bones, and if the pubic bones are not in alignment, a strain is placed on the ligaments surrounding the uterus. In our experience when the surrounding ligaments are allowed to relax using muscle energy techniques, the chances of successful conception rise. It is possible but not proven that restoring the symmetry of the uterus also improves the fallopian tubes. Over an 18 month timescale, I once counted 15 women, whom I knew about, who successfully conceived before the next period was due after treatment. A number of women have been to see us who sadly suffered miscarriage. In many cases we have seen them successfully go on to raise a healthy family after our pelvic balancing sessions. It might be co-incidence but a happy outcome all the same.


Good stretches – how to safely twist the spine.

What is the difference between an osteopath, a chiropractor a physiotherapist and a holistic therapist? They all claim to have a unique philosophy. My impression is that chiropractic focusses on the alignment of the spine and the health of the spinal nerves. “If the spine is in line you feel fine.” Their emphasis is wellness not disease.

Here is a great example of chiropractic treatment that is close to what I do myself. Dr David Russ, NE Oregon


A physiotherapist Adam Meakins wrote, “We do know that staying active helps,” he says. “The lines between physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy have become blurred. As physiotherapists we should be giving only education and exercise-based advice. We believe in self-management, giving patients ownership to get themselves better and not looking for repeat business.”



According to the British Medical Journal:

“Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space. Health authorities and health insurers should not cover the costs of these preparations, and new prescriptions to patients who have not received treatment should be discouraged.”

The researchers studied an average age range of 58 to 66. 800 mg of chondroitin and 1550 mg a day of glucosamine were the minimum doses. 12 out of 58 reports were considered representing 10 trials.

The key phrase was ‘clinically significant’. In some studies there was a difference of 3 to 5% in pain scales. Glucosamine Hydrochloride was fairly represented in only one trial. As advisors to the Health Food trade we have known for many years that glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin are poorly absorbed into our digestive system. Glucosamine Hydrochloride is tolerated much better. Indeed one of the main suppliers Higher Nature, only use glucosamine hydrochloride in their supplements. One person reported to me that he found a difference in different suppliers. He noticed a positive effect when a supplement had manganese added. In 1993 I heard a speaker for Forever Living Products point out that manganese had a positive effect in reducing back pain.

The researchers are not saying, ‘Stop taking supplements’. They are simply saying that the health service does do not have sufficient research available to justify funding these supplements. It is a shame that the prescribed medication could lead to thinning of the mucous lining of the gut and potential internal bleeding.

Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pelvic Girdle Pain or Symphysis Pubis Disorder (SPD) affects about 70,000 women a year. It can cause extreme discomfort and difficulty in walking especially during pregnancy. There is no medication that will cure it . In our experience pelvic girdle pain is a condition that starts before pregnancy. It affects men & women but hormones soften the ligaments in women during pregnancy.

It is also a major factor in groin strain suffered by sports people. Sometimes it is diagnosed as osteitis pubis (inflammation of the pubic bones).  My colleague Vanya and I have successfully treated hundreds of people who suffer from groin strain by using non-painful muscle energy techniques.

A lady who first came in hobbling with the condition during pregnancy said to me after three sessions that successfully resolved her pain,

“I wish that this treatment was available on the NHS.”

The symphysis pubis forms the two bones that meet just above the clitoris in women and just above the penis in men. The bones are the lower part of the pelvic girdle. A fibrous disc joins them. The disc is a web of ligaments, mainly collagen. If the joint becomes strained or unstable the bones do not quite meet symmetrically.

The enclosed x ray shows what happens when the joints are strained. The pelvic girdle is not quite symmetrical, that shows the lady was not lying flat. However the pubic bones still do not align in the x ray.

The following scan shows a male pelvis where the pubic bones are aligned. Both of these people suffered major trauma before theses scans were taken.

If someone has pelvic girdle pain the legs might give the appearance of one leg being longer, or of one side of the pelvic dropping forwards and downwards. Because the pubic bones act like a hinge they are a fulcrum for movement. You might for instance feel pain in the lateral part of your hips. In our experience common conditions like trochanteric bursitis or iliotibial band syndrome are often resolved when we successfully treat pelvic girdle pain.

back pain, neck pain, pelvic pain,

Back pain mainly comes from strained muscles or ligaments. When your muscles are fatigued, or you sit for too long in a poor posture they become weak. Stretching or twisting strains the ligaments that supports your spine, shoulders and pelvis. Ligaments  resist being stretched and create pain.

The obvious causes are likely: poor posture, bad habits, crossing the legs, sitting awkwardly, draughts and cold muscles, sudden movements, reaching out and twisting, lack of exercise or holding the body in one position like cycling all day.

People describe pain very accurately. A dull ache refers to muscles. An sharp focus of pain often refers to ligaments, shooting pain refers to nerves.

  1. I take the view that most of us were born symmetrical. By restoring your body to symmetry we lessen the pain.
  2. Examine yourself. Try crossing your legs one way then the other. Which is easier? Stand and feel the bump at the front of your hips. Does one side feel forward or high compared to the other? Do you have a lump in the back just above your hips? Then I can help you to rapidly overcome your pain.
  3. You might experience headaches that relate to tension in your neck muscles or lower down your spine. A girl of 15 used to come with her mother. She had suffered headaches for 12 years. After careful history taking we worked out that she had first tried judo aged 3 and had fallen on her coccyx. The coccyx pain had tethered the spinal chord which linked to the membranes inside her head. She made a dramatic improvement with muscle energy techniques and craniosacral therapy.

Phone 01908 502015 / 503274 for an appointment.