Acne scams totals millions over a year

Fraudulent acne products exist for two reasons: (1) There is no cure for acne. (2) People have a natural desire to look their best. And although those two facts may never change, it is also a fact that you can eliminate your acne for FREE–with natural acne remedies.

All of the ingredients needed to clear your skin of acne are already in your home. We will instruct you on how to use the following items:

  • Hygienic Products
  • Different Food Spices

Before we proceed to explain how these natural acne remedies work, you should first understand The Four Basic Causes of Acne.

The Four Basic Causes of Acne

The four basic causes of acne are:

  • Bacteria
  • Excess Oil
  • Dead Skin Cells
  • Clogged Pores

During the onset of puberty, hormones trigger your oil glands to become very active. The oil glands start to produce excessive amounts of oil. A bacteria, called acnes, eats this oil. The acnes increased diet of oil enables them to grow in great numbers. These ever growing acnes start to produce very large amounts of waste products, called free fatty acids. Free fatty acids combined with dead skin cells and oil form a clog in the oil pore of the skin. As more and more waste products are produced, the oil pore wall eventually breaks. Then white blood cells enter the area to kill the acnes. The remains of the white blood cells are the so-called pus that people see.

Other Causes of Acne

Although acnes, excess oil, dead skin cells and a clogged pore are the basic reasons behind a pimple forming, there are also many other things that can cause a pimple to form. For instance, some makeups and skin moisturizers contain pore-clogging substances. And once these substances become trapped in your pores, a pimple will soon come to follow.

How Natural Acne Remedies Work

Natural acne remedies clear your skin of acne, by dealing with the four basic causes of acne. And since the P.acne bacteria is the main culprit in causing acne, this is where treatment begins.

Acnes originate from inside your body, so keeping your system clean helps keep their numbers down. There are a variety of products designed to do this, but drinking a sufficient amount of water is all that is necessary.

The next step is to attack the acnes on the surface of the skin. Killing acnes on the surface of the skin also removes excessive amounts of oil.

The final step is to unstick dead skin cells. There is a list of substances that do this–each working best with a particular type of skin. One of the best ways to remove blackheads is actually with blackheads removal mask that can be easily applied and costs less then $0.2 per treatment.

If That Does Not Work

The previous three steps clear most people’s acne. But if that does not work, there are external factors causing your acne. It could be something that you are putting on your face that is clogging your pores or something that you are allergic to. Whatever it is, will instruct you on how to get to the root of the problem and solve it.

The Most FAQ’s About Eliminating Acne Naturally

I have already tried OTC acne products and some of the most powerful acne drugs available.

  • How do I know natural acne remedies will work for me?!
  • If eliminating acne naturally is effective in clearing acne,
    Why is this method of treatment not as popular?
  • Does stopping acne involve ingesting or externally applying herbs or herbal products?
  • How long after beginning treatment will it be before I start to see results?
  • Do I have to change my diet?
  • Will eliminating acne naturally cost me anything?
  • What about my acne blemishes?

Answers to The Most FAQ’s

Because the four basic causes of acne are treated, natural acne remedies work well for everyone. Although there are numerous different acne products available, none of them attempt to treat the four basic causes of acne. The manufacturers of these acne products and drugs just accept the fact that their remedies will not help everyone.

Because companies are in business to earn profits, not educate the public. If the average customer knew that they could treat their acne more effectively and for free–with natural acne remedies–companies in the acne care industry would stop having repeat sales/scams.

No. Eliminating acne naturally will not involve ingesting anything other than water. No herbs or herbal products are used.

You will begin to see current acne start to dry up within hours. Thereafter, there will be no new acne flare-ups ever again.

No. In most cases acne is not caused by diet.

Very little. Because all of the ingredients needed to clear your skin of acne are already in your home, the total cost is estimated to be less than a nickel a day.

Acne blemishes will fade in time. There are natural products that will speed the process a little. However, the best way to clear your skin of blemishes is to stop new acne from forming.

Headaches, their categorization, descriptions, and treatment

The principle subject of this month’s issue is headaches, their categorization, descriptions, and treatment. We will focus on the chronic types: migraine, tension, and cluster headaches.

First off, as emphasized in the past, I am not a physician; therefore, the following information should be read with that in mind. It is information only. Secondly, the text that follows deals in some detail only with headaches and relevant medications; while recognizing that there are numerous other avenues of attack; including accupressure, accupuncture, herbal treatment, biofeedback, exercise (that’s right, our universal health improvement method; although it can also cause headaches for some people), various homeopathic measures, witchcraft, voodoo, and others.

As many of you know, in the past, it was commonly thought that many headaches were psychological – caused by stress. It now seems clear that stress may contribute to the intensity of a headache, but is not the cause. The causes are real, physical events. It is thought that the genetic X-Factor is a significant component of chronic headaches – brain chemistry and nerve paths. According to current thought, migraine and tension headaches, the most common types, are caused by an insufficiency of seratonin (a neurotransmitter, which is a significant component of communication between brain cells) during surges in its level, which are in response to certain triggers (see Note 1). Among other things, it plays a significant role in contracting and expanding blood vessels, and dilation of blood vessels is thought to be the cause of headache pain .

Note 1 – Headache “triggers” may be certain foods, environmental conditions (like heat, cold, noise, etc.), bright lights, head trauma, motion (as on a car or roller coaster ride, for example), fatigue; almost anything.

I once had a wife who had migraines, and I have to admit that I thought they were psychological phenomena. Now I understand more about the genetic reality of migraines, but, regardless of the cause, it has always been clear that the pain involved could be debilitating. My own experiences with headaches have been few and easily cured by aspirin, so it took me awhile to understand the enormity of chronic headaches, including migraines.

Headaches are a little like arthritis in the sense that there are many types, but we will focus mainly on three common chronic types: migraine, stress, and cluster headaches. Importantly enough as that being said also headaches like arthritis may be relieved with TENS devices such as Pain Gone pen device but we will get back to that later down the road. Migraine headaches are normally a product of one’s genetic inheritance, and occur more often in women than men. Symptoms are usually throbbing or aching pain, often on one side of the head, and often accompanied by nausea, maybe throwing up, and maybe visual abnormalities or dizziness. Some sufferers get an “aura.” An aura is a shimmering light, or colors; or some other visual oddities. With an aura, you have a “classic” migraine; without one, you just get credit for a “common” migraine. [Now everyone who gets a headache will see an aura. Who wants to be common?]

Tension headaches are the most common type. This type of headache results from contraction of the muscles in one’s head and neck, which causes the blood vessels in the head to expand, often resulting in a feeling of pain on each side of the head – like it’s being squeezed in a vice. If chronic, it is now thought that these headaches, like migraines, are genetically influenced. As with migraines, tension headaches can be intensified by overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

Cluster headaches occur most often in men, and are characterized by excruciating pain in an eye or a temple, and last from 15 minutes to an hour or more. They occur in waves lasting weeks to months, and occurring once or twice a year.

Let’s be a bit more specific about how a headache happens. When a headache hits, it can be triggered (see footnote 1, page 1) by a number of factors. These triggers act upon people with a genetic disposition toward irregular serotonin control. It is thought that a trigger causes a wave of electrical activity to spread through the brain. Then the serotonin level surges (kind of a wave action). A result is that decreases in seratonin (at the ebb) cause blood vessels to become irritated, and maybe the trigeminal nerve (a major nerve in the brain/face) as well. The result is PAIN.

This leads us to the next step, which is how to ease or prevent the pain.

First, a word of warning. Many sufferers of chronic headaches increase their susceptibility by over-medicating, which can lead to rebound headaches. Rebound headaches are more frequent headaches which are the result of too much pain relief medication; where “too much” can be the amount of caffeine contained in three or four cups of coffee per day, or in more than twice-weekly doses of pain relievers or decongestants; or even two aspirins a day and some caffeine. The trick is to use medications sparingly (i.e., tolerate as much pain as you can). It is ironic that a person may find that something like Aleve, Advil, aspirin, or Tylenol may effectively reduce headache pain, which can lead to more frequent use, which may then cause more frequent headaches. And, for whatever reason, the medication of choice tends to become less effective, causing one to increase the frequency of its use – kind of an endless circle. This just isn’t fair!

A reasonable beginning approach to fighting a headache is be to try one of the following (actually, maybe all of them):

  • Try a relaxation technique, like deep breathing, or Yoga (you may have to consult Lilias for that);
  • Try something with caffeine in it – coffee, soft drink, caffeine tablet, or ??
  • Try aspirin, ibuprofen (like Advil, for instance), or acetaminophen – but not more than twice a week (avoid the rebound).
  • Use ice packs wherever you are hurting; ice can be very effective.
  • Try to rest or sleep in a dark, quiet room.

Note that exercise – aerobic exercise, done for thirty minutes, five times a week, may help prevent headaches (probably the endorphins released that tend to promote a sense of well-being).

More about caffeine. Sometimes taking a little caffeine will help fight off a migraine before it reaches full force. This strategy tends to work especially for someone who does not consume caffeine-containing products on days that are headache-free. Caffeine may help because it constricts dilated blood vessels, which might cause the pain. It is essential to heed the warning that excessive caffeine consumption can exacerbate a headache problem; a double-edged sword, as it were.

Now let’s address OTC pain relievers. If none of the previous strategies have worked, an OTC medication may help; again, it’s more likely to be effective if taken early in the development of pain. The list of the most effective OTC products includes:

  • Excedrin Extra-Strength is an effective choice, but contains enough caffeine that it can cause rebound headaches.
  • Aleve – previously discussed in the September 1995, issue of the MAF FITNESS NEWSLETTER, on page 12.
  • Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, _ _ _), an inexpensive nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory category of drugs known as NSAIDs. These drugs can be fairly effective against tension and migraine headaches, and are reasonably well tolerated, but gastrointestinal upset is not uncommon. This class of drugs may be more effective when caffeine is taken at the same time.
  • Aspirin-Free Excedrin is less effective than Excedrin Extra-Strength, but it might be a good choice for those who don’t tolerate aspirin very well.
  • Aspirin can be a good choice, but one has to be aware of the possible side-effects. It should be avoided for those who are pregnant, or have gastritis or ulcers. There are other side effects as well; like its blood thinning properties (which you may or may not want), it can cause liver damage, and, in high doses, kidney irritation.
  • Anacin is less effective than Excedrin Extra-Strength, but it is less likely to cause sideeffects or rebound headaches (that is a side-effect, isn’t it?).
  • Acetaminophen is less effective than aspirin-containing products, but may be useful for minor headaches, and without aspirin’s side-effects.

More on Migraines

So far, we have discussed mainly remedies for milder headaches. But, what if you are dealing with serious migraines? You may first try some of the options already discussed, but if they are ineffective, you will need to go to the next level, with a doctor’s help. There are two approaches to treating migraines: preventive, and eliminating one in progress. We will address in-progress treatment first.

Stopping a Migraine

In the event that one is getting a migraine, and non-drug therapy, as well as OTC medication, has failed to bring relief; a step up to the next level (prescription drugs) is in order. Ordinarily a physician will start by prescribing drugs that are only moderately stronger than OTC medications – this to avoid as many side-effects as possible. These include:

  • Midrin is relatively safe and effective. So much so that it may be given to children as young as 5 years old. It can cause fatigue, and those with high blood pressure should avoid it.
  • Norgesic Forte is a fairly potent non-addictive drug for stopping a migraine. But it has a high aspirin content, so it may cause stomach problems for some people.
  • Butalbital compounds are all potentially addictive, but are considered safe when not overused.

If the above medications are ineffective, or are inappropriate for one’s use, the next group of medications from which a physician most likely will make a recommendation include:

  • Sumatriptan (Imtrex), which is very effective, but also expensive ($34 a shot – literally, it must be taken by injection). But, at least the side effects seem pretty benign – sometimes nausea. The medication comes packaged for easy self-injection. This med also comes in pill form, which is less effective than the injection version (wouldn’t you know it?). In addition to being more effective, the injection version also works faster – as little as 10 minutes, as opposed to an hour for the pill form. Unfortunately, use of this drug can cause rebound headaches. Also, it is not a good choice for children; pregnant or nursing women; people with liver, kidney or heart disease; or those over age 60.
  • DHE, or Dihydroergotamine, if you prefer. This is another of those injection meds, but you have to use a regular syringe, and load it yourself. It does not come in an easy applicator like Sumatriptan. It is, however, well-tolerated, and effective, but not as effective as Sumatriptan. But it lasts longer and does not cause rebound headaches. It should not be taken by those who are pregnant, have uncontrolled hypertension, poor circulation of the hands or feet, or are over age 60.
  • Ergotamines can be effective, but they can cause several side-effects. Among them: nausea and anxiety. They can cause serious rebound headaches; and people over 40 probably shouldn’t use them – they can cause heart attacks.
  • Pain gone pen can be really effective but you should find more details about it before deciding should you use it or not.
  • Corticosteroids come in either pill or injection form, and is particularly effective with severe migraines and menstrual migraines, but must be taken only in small doses and for short periods of time. Extended use can cause several severe side-effects, like: liver failure, weight gain, adrenal gland suppression, and predisposition to fractures.
  • Narcotics and sedatives are more-or-less a last resort if nothing else has worked. Doctors may wish to avoid prescribing drugs from this group because of the obvious possible addiction problem.

Antinausea medication may be needed, because nausea may result from the headache itself, or from an anti-pain medication. This category of drugs is available in pill form, as suppositories, or in injection form. Effectiveness increases as you go from pill, to suppository, to injection form. Without a prescription, one can try OTC antacids, vitamin B6, or Emetrol. Phenergan is an effective drug, which has what may be a good side-effect, which is that it may put you to sleep. There are many more drugs in this category, but rather than try to list them all, I will leave that to your doctor.

Preventing a Migraine

We have discussed “triggers” already, but it should be emphasized that emotions – stress, worry, depression, etc. can also act as triggers. It has been mentioned that emotions don’t cause migraines, but they can trigger them. One’s emotional state may be the biggest factor in whether migraines start or not. It is, therefore, essential to maintain good emotional balance, even if that means psychotherapy. Foods are often mentioned as significant triggers, but their importance pales in the face of stress and biochemical imbalances.

If all else has failed, one may decide to turn to a preventive medication, with a physician’s assistance, of course. That is almost a superfluous statement since the drugs can only be obtained through a prescription. Under the following circumstances, you may choose to follow this path:

  • You get moderate to severe migraines more than three times per month, or:
  • Migraine relief has so far failed, or:
  • The frequency/intensity of your migraines is adversely affecting your quality of life, or:
  • You are willing to play “human guinea pig” by taking daily doses of medications, suffer the possible side-effects, and change drugs often in a search for “the right stuff.”

The following medications probably won’t eliminate your migraines, but should improve the quality of your life:

  • Antidepressants are used not for their psychological affect, but because they affect serotonin. Because many of them affect the heart, they may be inappropriate for the elderly.
  • Beta Blockers are a group of medications which prevent blood vessel dilation. They can be a good choice for those with hypertension because, as well as fighting a headache, they help lower blood pressure. They may contribute to weight gain (some would consider that worse than the headache), depression, higher cholesterol levels, and other unpleasantries. Inderal may be the most commonly prescribed medication in this group. It is usually not prescribed for those with asthma or congestive heart failure.
  • NSAIDs can be very effective at preventing migraines, but frequently cause gastrointestinal problems as well.
  • Calcium Blockers are not among the most effective, but have few side-effects; therefore, are a reasonable choice for some.

For those who still haven’t found relief, a doctor might prescribe combinations of previously identified medications; or Depacote, which can be very helpful, but should not be used by those with liver problems.

As a last resort, there is a group of drugs called “MAO inhibitors” (like Nardil). These drugs are helpful for both migraines and simple daily headaches. While these drugs can be very helpful, along with the drugs comes a long list of foods and other drugs to avoid when taking them. It is too long to include here – your doctor will help you. Some of you may want to die before giving up some of the recommended list . This is as far as I am willing to go on migraine prevention. The next step may require hospitalization.

More on Tension Headaches

These headaches, usually milder than migraines may actually just be a mild migraine. Researchers aren’t sure yet. They can usually be successfully treated with an OTC. These headaches, like migraines, have a genetic connection.

Try these treatments first:

  • Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, Yoga, etc.
  • Apply ice to the point of pain
  • Tolerate the pain as much as you can
  • Medication

The initial choices of a medication will come from the following list, which is very similar to that for migraines:

  • Acetaminophen is less effective than aspirin, but easier to tolerate, but can cause rebound headaches.
  • Aspirin – see previous description.
  • Aleve is a very effective anti-inflammatory, but can cause stomach upset and nausea.
  • Aleve is a very effective anti-inflammatory, but can cause stomach upset and nausea.
  • Ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) – maybe about the same effectiveness as aspirin, and stomach upset can be expected.
  • Caffeine – same as for migraine
  • Naproxin requires a prescription, but effective as an anti-inflammatory, and may be enhanced with caffeine. Nausea and stomach upset may be expected.
  • Midrin (prescription only) is effective and safe, but fatigue and stomach upset are common.
  • Norgesic Forte is a strong non-addicting abortive medication for tension and migraine headaches.

The next level of meds for aborting tension headaches includes:

  • Butalbital Compounds like Esgic are effective, but are addictive – use sparingly.
  • Narcotics, like codeine, These are last-resort meds, for obvious reasons.
  • Sedatives, like Valium, are habit-forming and often cause sedation. You are in really bad shape if you are using narcotics or sedatives, and must be working closely with a doctor.

Tension Headaches-Prevention

If you are at this level, you must realize that your goal must be to live with some level of pain, with minimal side effects. You will begin this phase of headache treatment by trying to find something acceptable from the following:

  • Antidepressants are the primary choice for daily headaches, not so much for depression, as for impact on serotonin.
  • NSAIDs are not as effective as antidepressants, but are without all of their side effects – especially sedation.

The next level of medications for preventing tension headaches includes:

  • Beta Blockers – previously discussed.
  • Muscle Relaxants
  • Calcium Blockers

The final set of meds for preventing tension headaches, when all else fails, are:

  • Take two preventive medications (e.g., a tricyclic antidepressant with an NSAID or a beta blocker; or amitriptyline with propranolol).
  • MAO Inhibitors – previously described
  • Tranquilizers, Amphetamines, and Narcotic Opioids are lumped together here as a group of dangerous choices that you and your doctor might want to discus as a real last act of desperation.

More on Cluster Headaches

Initial treatment for cluster headaches is almost exclusively limited to medications because of the intense pain associated with them, but some people find use of simple ice packs, or sometimes heat, to be of some help.

Typically, people who get cluster headaches will initially look into the following drugs (again, this is in conjunction with a physician):

  • Oxygen is effective in roughly 80% of cases, the equipment (oxygen tank and mask) can be rented – hospitalization is not required.
  • Imitrex – previously described on page 5.
  • DHE is also described on page 5.

In the event that no relief is found from any of those, it is time to step up to:

  • Pain Relievers, including OTC meds, and just about everything mentioned so far, including narcotics.
  • Lidocaine Nasal Spray may be suggested, in combination with other options.
  • Ketorolac Injections are about $10 apiece, but are an effective and a fast-acting anti-inflammatory. It is nonsedating and nonaddictive, and can be obtained in pill form, but which is less effective.
  • Antinausea Medications – described on page 6.

Cluster Headaches-Prevention

Prevention may be taking a medication only during flareups (clusters of headaches), or it may be more expedient to take them everyday, all year.

Your initial choice of medication will likely be selected from the following:

  • Cortisone is effective, but side effects are virtually assured. This med may be taken for only a short time during the peak of an episode.
  • Verapamil is a calcium blocker with few side effects.
  • Lithium can be effective for either episodic or chronic clusters, and is commonly combined with another med.

If you need to escalate your war on clusters, you will select from the following:

  • Sansert is more effective for episodic, rather than chronic clusters. It does, however, have several side effects, like dizziness, leg cramps, and nausea. Not recommended for those over age 45, or those who are pregnant.
  • Depakote may be useful, but it has a number of ugly side effects.
  • Ergotamines may be effective, but should only be used in short term situations – as during an episode; otherwise rebound headaches and other side effects can develop.
  • Ergonovine is less effective than Sansert, but with fewer side effects.

The last line of defense consists of the following:

  • IV DHE can work quickly, and may be particularly good for mitigating cluster headaches while you are looking for an effective preventive med.
  • Cocaine Solution is a last resort option.

Headaches and Adolescents Over Age 11

Kids at this age should be encouraged to use relaxation techniques in preference to medications, but, admittedly, they are unlikely to stick with this method, or biofeedback, another preferred headache strategy – albeit one that can be expensive because of the need for this to be done in a doctor’s office.

Most adolescents can get by without preventive meds, but abortive meds may be useful. However, to avoid the now famous “rebound” headache, preventive meds may occasionally be justified.

Adolescents who get migraine headaches may need antinausea medication, just like adults. And both adolescents and adults should always take any medications with food.

Tension Headache Prevention

  • Anti-inflammatories – Naproxen or Ibuprofen may be effective and are well tolerated.
  • Antidepressants are ordinarilly safe for long-term use, but only in low doses.
  • Beta Blockers can be useful, but their are nasty side effects.

Migraine Prevention

  • Anti-inflammatories are the first choice.
  • Verapamil
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Beta Blockers
  • Valproate
  • Prozac
  • Combinations from groups one and two.
  • Nardil an MAO inhibitor
  • IV DHE

Following is a list of a few “other” types of headaches, accompanied by their most common medications:

  • Post-trauma headaches are treated initially by anti-inflammatories like aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Exercise headaches – yes, it can happen – are likely to respond to NSAIDs.
  • Spinal Tap headaches respond, for most people, to analgesics, like aspirin.
  • Sinus headaches may actually be some other kind, but; if you have one, ant-biotics are probably in order, or OTC sinus meds may work.
  • Allergy headaches may require prescription nasal sprays or antihistamines.
  • Eyestrain headaches can be attacked with the same meds used for tension headaches, and you might want to get an eye test as well.

Note that many of the prescription medications mentioned above can be prepared by your pharmacist in lozenge, suppository, or nasal spray form, on request. This is, of course, instead of its normal form – usually a pill.

Background Information

Twelve million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, or “hemicrania.” Migraines are caused by the inability of the blood vessels in the membrane covering the brain to expand and contract at uniform rates. When the velocity of blood increases through the larger vessels, the pressure on the smaller ones causes painful stretching as they unsuccessfully attempt to accommodate the heavier flow. As the arterial system undergoes this general spasmatic stretching and constricting, the nerve cells register an incessant throbbing, sometimes pounding pain, often accompanied by nausea, distortions of speech, hearing, and vision, and clamminess of the skin.

Common triggers of migraine include stress, menstruation, use of oral contraceptives, and certain allergenic foods. Pain-killers (such as aspirin) are the most widely prescribed drugs, though anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, and various “channel-blocking” agents can also be useful. These drugs reduce both the frequency and severity of attacks in many people, but none actually prevents the attacks. Migraine is known to run in families, though the genetic origins have not yet been successfully isolated.

A number of research projects involving experimental preventive measures have been reported in the current medical literature. Some of these experiments may prove to be helpful either in reducing the risk of migraine, or perhaps preventing it altogether: (1) a strict regimen of vitamin B therapy; (2) eating a good breakfast (including yogurt, but excluding citrus fruits); (3) taking an aspirin tablet every other day; (4) avoiding carbohydrates (milk and peas in particular), and such allergenic foods as chocolate, red wine, and aged cheeses; (5) discontinued use of oral contraceptives; (6) application of acupuncture and acupressure; and (7) effects of biofeedback training.


Buring, Peto, and Hennekens, 1990. Low-dose aspirin for migraine prophylaxis. Journal of the American Medical Association (October 3, 1990), volume 264(13), pages 1711-3.

Buring and others, 1995. Migraine and subsequent risk of stroke in the Physicians’ Health Study. Archives of Neurology (February 1995), volume 52(2), pages 129-134.

Edmeads, 1989. Four steps in managing migraine. Postgraduate Medicine (May 1, 1989), volume 85(6), pages 121-4, 127-8, 131-4.

Grazzi and Bussone, 1993. Effect of biofeedback treatment on sympathetic function in common migraine and tension-type headache. Cephalalgia (June 1993), volume 13(3), pages 197-200.

Hesse, Mogelvang, and Simonsen, 1994. Acupuncture versus metoprolol in migraine prophylaxis: a randomized trial of trigger point inactivation. Journal of Internal Medicine (May 1994), volume 235(5), pages 451-456.

Hoffert, 1994. Treatment of migraine: a new era. American Family Physician (February 15, 1994), volume 49(3), pages 633-644.

Ilacqua, 1994. Migraine headaches: coping efficacy of guided imagery training. Headache (February 1994), volume 34(2), pages 99-102.

Montastruc and Senard, 1992. Calcium channel blockers and prevention of migraine. Pathologie Biologie (April 1992), volume 40(4), pages 381-8.

Romeu-Bes, 1992. Nicardipine in the prevention of migraine headaches. Clinical Therapeutics (September-October 1992), volume 14(5), pages 672-7.

Sandler and others, 1995. Dietary migraine: recent progress in the red (and white) wine story. Cephalalgia (April 1995), volume 15(2), pages 101-103.

Sheftell, Weeks, Rapoport, Siegel, Baskin, and Arrowsmith, 1994. Subcutaneous sumatriptan in a clinical setting: the first 100 consecutive patients with acute migraine in a tertiary care center. Headache (February 1994), volume 34(2), pages 67-72.

Shimell, Fritz, and Levien, 1990. A comparative trial of flunarizine and propranolol in the prevention of migraine. South African Medical Journal (January 20, 1990), volume 77(2), pages 75-7.

Silberstein, 1995. Migraine and women: the link between headache and hormones. Postgraduate Medicine (April 1995), volume 97(4), pages 147-153.

Soyka, Diener, Pfaffenrath, Gerber, and Ziegler, 1992. Therapy and prevention of migraine: revised recommendations of the German Migraine and Headache Society. Medizinische Monatsschrift fur Pharmazeuten (July 1992), volume 15(7), pages 196-205.

Vincent, 1989. A controlled trial of the treatment of migraine by acupuncture. Clinical Journal for Pain (December 1989), volume 5(4), pages 305-312.

Walling, 1990. Drug prophylaxis for migraine headaches. American Family Physician (August 1990), volume 42(2), pages 425-32.

Worz, Reinhardt-Benmalek, Foh, Grotemeyer, and Scharafinski, 1992. Prevention of migraine using bisoprolol: results of a double-blind study versus metoprolol. Fortschritte der Medizin (May 20, 1992), volume 110(14), pages 268-72.

Important Note

The information above is provided solely for your education and enrichment. It should NOT be relied upon for personal diagnosis, treatment, or any other medical purpose. If you believe that a particular therapy applies to YOU, please contact your doctor before trying it.


The votes are in. The American public would rather see a cat than a dog as the Nation’s First Pet. Based on 15,000 voters, cats beat dogs 58% to 42%.

At Cats Magazine a spokeshuman was jubilant as she addressed the exhausted crowd and to claim victory saying “this landslide belongs to every cat who ever proved to its fellow humans that it is an animal of intelligence and discrimination.”

The mood was considerably different at DOGWorld Magazine, where campaigners seemed stunned. A spokeshuman was barely able to keep from howling as he conceded defeat, but said, “I must stress that it is not dogs who let us down. They have, as always, been steady and helpful. It is the political process that has failed.”

Although cats are the victors, dogs have also won. The election was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.


The great pleasure of a dog is that you can make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, he will make a fool of himself.” Samuel Butler


Father Bob is a French monk, cancer survivor, and proprietor of Father Bob’s Cattery–or is he? ***

“All right now, inquiring minds want to know…what was Father Bob’s true identity? Who was he? Did he give any explanation for his fraudulent behavior?” — Charlie

“Father Bob pretended to be (among other things) a monk dying of cancer who gave retired show cats to senior citizens and tried to create a cookbook to benefit the homeless. His sidekick nurse posted for him when he was too ill to type. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sniffed out the strange truth. While it sounds hard to believe now, his inspirational (if long-winded) messages were easily believed by a large part of the discussion group, Cancer-L. (Okay, I was fooled.)” — Celene


Our Aim Furrever – Purrfection in God’s Loving Care

Fr. Bob: “We would like cat lovers all over the world to know that we are a monastic order of monks – Notre-Dame de la Confidence. Our primary act of MERCY is breeding Persian and Exotic Shorthair cats which, we have found, are the most easily trained breeds. We teach them simple commands from kittenhood. They become agitated when someone knocks at the door or the phone rings. As contemplative monks, we have time to invest in the love, affection and patience it takes to accomplish this, and the rewards are great.

“Where do our cats go? The majority are given to senior citizens who have been neglected or abandoned by their children, relatives and friends.

“The love and assistance these cats give to so many seniors is our reward. We are proud to count among them Champion and Grand Champion lines such as:


Take a look at this perspective:

Cats are therapeutic. I know that from experience. I have two pairs of brother and sister cats from two different litters. I used to describe them as “two sets of twins” but the other day I was asked how do I know they’re twins. I don’t, and they probably aren’t since to be twins they would have to have been the only ones (twos) in their litters. Which is unlikely, so they’re probably really half of quadruplets or two fifths of quintuplets or something like that.

One set is charcoal gray and the other set is tan. The gray ones, Peter and Kato, take long walks in the woods with my grandson, Austin, and me. Sometimes when he’s not busy Legend comes too.

I’m telling you this because you might not know that cats are therapeutic. You might think that cats aren’t therapeutic because they’re independent. But that’s not always the case. Dory used to come on our walks but she got lost once and is too dependent to take chances anymore.

It’s usually people who favor dogs who tell me that cats are too independent to be therapeutic. Someone sent this note to us the other day:

“The best friend man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son, or daughter, who he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and good name may become traitors to their faith. The money a man has he may lose. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head.

“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only to be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.

“When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wing, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

“If fortune drives his master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies,. And when that last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there, by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even in death. — Senator Vest — 1869.

So I guess dogs are therapeutic too.


Courtesy of Natalie R

I think pets are wonderful therapy. Ten months before my Dad died in ’92, I got him a kitten. Some months earlier, his cat had died suddenly, and he swore he would never get another. I talked to my stepmother about it and said I thought he really did want another cat, but was afraid of the dealing with another loss in the future. But at that point, I was certain any pet he got would outlive him anyway (he had heart disease and diabetes and other problems and had been given a poor prognosis).

So after clearing it with my stepmother, I decided to bring him a kitty for Christmas (at this point, I must say I’m generally against surprise pet-gifts, and pets as Christmas gifts. But I knew I would keep the cat if my instincts were wrong and Dad was really against it). A few weeks after I made the decision, I found a stray kitten outside my office. It’s a long story, but my co-workers and I managed to capture the little waif, and after nursing it back to health, I gave it to Dad when I went home for the holidays. (I do wonder if that kitten was sent to me on purpose!) Dad was ticked off for about 5 seconds when he saw the cat-carrier, but then he took the tabby into his arms and he never looked back. Instant love!

At this point, my dad had taken early retirement and was on a disability pension. My stepmother worked, so dad was alone all day. I am certain this cat kept Dad going for those last ten months of his life. Oscar was company for him during the day, and gave him a reason to get out of bed. They had a very special bond.

At the moment, I’m reading a book called “Animals as Healers” (Or something like that; I’m too lazy to go and get it!) It’s a new book and filled with stories about the human-animal bond and the healing that goes on between us. Anyway, I hope Richard gets as much joy out of his new cat as my father did from Oscar. And vice versa…

Well here is a bit more. Few movies to watch:

  • Kitties at play in the night: “The Charge of the Light Brigade”
  • Exploring Fluffy’s mind: “2001: A Space Odyssey”
  • Cat behaves angelically, always: “The Cat from Outer Space”
  • Kitty going crazy chasing moths/anything/nothing: “Psycho”

Banish bloating once and for all with EASE

Look up bloating in most medical textbooks and you will find it doesn’t exist. Various related conditions might satisfy your search for information – oedema, flatulence, colic – but not bloating. And yet 70% of women who seek help from nutritionists, and 40% of men, note that bloating is a feature, or the core, of their health problems. And the most common cause of bloating is food sensitivities.

It is not unusual for people to have morning clothes and afternoon clothes, which allow for an extra 3 or 4 inches of girth. Shoes may be bought in two sizes for good days and bad days. Whole suitcases are carried under eyes. Breasts may take on a life of their own for two, or more, weeks out of a four week cycle. Wedding rings are discarded, not due to divorce, but to swollen fingers. Bloating can involve an uncomfortable, distended feeling which does not seem to be related to any particular cause, and trapped wind which seems to have no pattern. Slim people can have the most extraordinarily swollen tummies, which go up and down with the hours of the day.

Now, with a revolutionary four-step programme, you can work out what is the cause of your bloating and work out which food sensitivities are may be causing your discomfort. Here is a summary of the four steps:

E – Eliminate the cause

A – Aid digestion

S – Solve the damage

E – Establish a healthy environment


This involves identifying and eliminating foods which are causing sensitivities or allergic reactions, foods which encourage inflammation in the digestive tract, foods which fight with each other or dealing with a possible overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans. Here are the three most common ways to ELIMINATE THE CAUSE: (Only try one measure at a time)

• Food sensitivities or allergies can lead to a wide variety of symptoms including digestive discomfort of all sorts (as well as skin complains, joint aches and headaches to name a few). The most common culprits are wheat products (bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, etc) and dairy products (milk, cheese, etc). Avoid each of these food groups for at least two weeks, to see if your symptoms are relieved, and then introduce the foods, one by one, to work out if you have any adverse reactions. Other common foods which cause problems include sugar, soya, other grains (ie rye, oats, corn, rice, etc), coffee, alcohol.

• ‘Foods which fight’ can cause endless digestive problems, and even weight gain. Some people benefit by not eating protein foods (meat, eggs, cheese, fish) with carbohydrate foods (bread, potato, rice). Vegetables can be eaten freely with either. It is worth a two week trial of avoiding these combination of foods to see if your symptoms are relieved. A typical meal would be either meat and salad/ vegetables, OR potato/rice with salad/vegetables.

• If the above two do not work for you then you may need to investigate if you have an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans in your gut. Candida feeds on sugars and other yeasts can promote its growth. Candida is often a problem when there is a history of repeated antibiotic use, contraceptive pill use, multiple pregnancies, or a diet high in sugar and/or alcohol. To help reduce candida overgrowth avoid foods to which you are sensitive, all sugar and alcohol and yeasty foods (most bread, many cheeses, mushrooms, vinegar, etc). Choose wholegrains, yeast-free alternatives (ie crispbreads, unleavened breads), cottage cheese and yoghurt and sugar-free foods, while eating your fill of vegetables, pulses, beans, protein foods. Most people on an anti-candida diet can happily eat fruit, but some people find that the sweeter fruit make the condition worse.

ELIMINATE THE CAUSE is the part of the programme which requires the greatest change in dietary habits, but it also the most rewarding, and with the wide range of different foods now available the transition can be quite straightforward as long as you invest a little time in planning. You can quite quickly find relief from your symptoms and feel healthy for the first time in a while.

All the steps which follow are really just fine-tuning and building on the basic programme, and are easy to incorporate. They are, however, vital to ensure that you recover fully and do not risk slipping down the slope to health problems again.


Now is the time to give you digestive tract a chance to digest food efficiently by looking and when and how you eat, and if necessary using digestive aids. Here are the three best ways to AID DIGESTION:

Chew your food. Simple thought this may sound it is vital to help ensure digestive health. The act of chewing programmes the release of the correct digestive enzymes further down the digestive tract. Along with taking more time to chew your food properly, also concentrate on making meal times as relaxed as possible, because stressful conditions will interfere with the digestion of food.

• Instead of drinking a beverage after your meal which interferes with digestion, such as coffee or very strong tea, why not experiment with some helpful herbals. Teas which promote good digestions include mint, dandelion, fennel, ginger, slippery elm and meadowsweet. Drinking 8 large glasses of water daily also promotes healthy digestion.

• If you still feel that your digestion is working below par, experiment with a course of digestive enzymes. Take two to five capsules with your meal for at least a month to see if this improves digestion. If it is helpful then continue for three-six months. Do not take digestive enzymes if you have a confirmed diagnosis of stomach or duodenal ulcers.


A digestive system which has been under continued assault by foods which do not agree with it will probably have sustained some damage to its basic fabric. This damage can result in malabsorption of nutrients, or excessive absorption of compounds which make food sensitivities worse. Much can be done to encourage healing of the digestive tract and, if this achieved, there is less chance that the problems will recur. Here are the three best ways to SOLVE THE DAMAGE:

The most important measure to heal the digestive tract include continuing to avoid foods to which you are sensitive (such as wheat, dairy, yeast, etc). Alongside this it is wise to avoid substances which interrupt the healing of the gut wall. These are mainly: alcohol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Chronic stress also inhibits healing of the gut wall.

• Invest in a juicer. Some juices are rich in compounds which help to heal the mucus membranes lining the digestive tract. These include: – carrot (an excellent base juice and rich in beta-carotene for healing cell walls)

  • cabbage (mix 1/4 cabbage to 3/4 other juices, and contains cabagin for healing mucus membranes)
  • pineapple and papaya (rich in enzymes which clear up dead cells in the gut)
  • red/purple berries such as blueberries and blackberries (rich in proanthocyanidins which are anti-inflammatory
  • you can also add in spices such as cinnamon, ginger and turmeric which are potent anti-inflammatory agents and healers.

If you find that your gut wall is still not healing, and symptoms persist, you may need to consult a nutritionist about testing for parasites.


The final step is to create the right environment for continued digestive health. We want to make sure that the lodgers (bacteria) in our digestive tracts are those which respect the property, clean up their mess and leave nice flowers for their host – not the type who create mayhem! Here are the three most important steps to ESTABLISH A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT:

• Supplement beneficial bacteria. A daily supplement of Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria can help to re-establish healthy bowel bacteria. The merit of this is that they help to promote a strong immune system (leaving you less susceptible to food sensitivities) and limit the toxic by-products from unfriendly bacteria (which can damage the digestive tract).

• Make sure that you get enough fibre in your diet (from oats, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, pulses, beans, nuts and seeds). If your bowel movements are not regular then experiment with a teaspoonful or two of psyllium husks mixed in fruit juice daily. You could also use FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides) a sugary tasting fibre which is pleasant sprinkled onto yogurt and which promotes the growth of healthy bowel bacteria. If you are unused to a lot of fibre in your diet then add in these fibers slowly to prevent problems with wind.

• Continue to use foods which promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the bowels and make them a ‘regular’ part of your life: garlic, olive oil, live yogurt, onions, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes.


How detox week should look like

Your Detox Week includes lots of vital, organic, healthy eating and avoids foods and drinks which are most likely to overtax the body’s detoxification systems, such as excess fats, gluten grains and dairy products. The philosophy behind this detox is to give your body a break and a chance to recuperate – a sort of holiday for the digestive system and the liver.  By giving your liver a break from having to do too much digestive work, or working on difficult substances for it to process – for example, lots of proteins or alcohol, it is more able to concentrate on dealing with
previously accumulated debris, and has more of an opportunity to regenerate itself.  Of course, true regeneration will take place over a longer time, but this is a pretty good place for most people to start.

The diet focuses on lots of fruits and vegetables, gluten-free gains, seafood and lean meats, tofu, beans and pulse, and healthy sources of fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil.   During your detox week you need to avoid all coffee, ‘normal’ tea (herb and fruit teas are fine), alcohol, sugar, processed foods and sugar.  Many foods which are helpful for detoxifying the liver have been included such as artichoke, beetroot and cabbage.  Do not restrict yourself on the quantity that you eat – the object is to feel satisfied, but not over-full.  If you get hungry in between meals make a little more of your meal and eat the extra for a snack later, or fill up on fruits, avocado, fresh nuts and seeds.

It is usually the case that a healthy eating programme requires that we need to ‘breakfast like a king’ and have a hearty carbohydrate based breakfast.  However, if you are aiming to detoxify you may want to take a different approach, which is to extend the ‘fast’ of the night into the morning by not overtaxing your digestive system and eating a fruit based breakfast, thereby not significantly ‘breaking-the-fast’ (this is not the same as skipping breakfast, which is not a good idea).  If you feel hungry on such a regime, you can snack on as many fruits as you like throughout the morning until you reach lunchtime.  Alternatively, if you are one of those people who definitely feel better having a ‘proper’ breakfast with some grains, make sure that your selections come from the gluten-free grains, such as millet porridge, corn or quinoa flakes,  or breakfast rice .  To make a delicious topping for any breakfast cereals, blend a banana with some silken tofu and use this and fruit juice to moisten the cereal.   Snacks have not been included in this programme, but eating fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and a small amount of dried fruit is ideal.  Make sure that you drink at least two litres of filtered water daily to keep flushing out the impurities which will be eliminated by following this way of eating.

Who Should Not Do A Detox?

Do not follow this detox, if you are pregnant or breast feeding, because even though this plan involves eating healthy foods, as you release toxins into your system they may have an unquantifiable effect on the baby.  If you are ill, under medical supervision, are very underweight, are diabetic, or have an eating disorder, you are best advised to get professional advice about following a detox plan.  Most people will benefit from a detox, but if your system is already weakened, it is wise not to go it alone with such a plan.  Many people will find that they experience unpleasant symptoms, sometimes quite severe, from detoxification, particularly as a result of giving up coffee or alcohol.  This does not mean that they should not go ahead with a detox, but means that they may need to take a slower approach.

Symptoms which indicate that you are off-loading toxins, which should only go on for the short term, include headaches, furred up tongue, spots, change in body odour, cloudy urine or change in bowel habits.  You may feel more tired than usual and it is best to give in to the need to nap or sleep to conserve your body’s energy.  It is also a good idea to keep warm and to do a little gentle exercise, such as walking, but to not overtax yourself.  Eating lots of vegetables, if you are unused to it, may lead to some digestive problems, in which case you may also need to take the slower approach to adding these foods into your regime.   It is always helpful to incorporate other means of speeding up elimination of toxins from the body while following such a programme, and you can give yourself a daily dry skin brush, have a massage or visit an acupuncturist or reflexologist who can use techniques to help the process along (discuss what you are aiming to do with them before making your appointment).

For a full rundown on detoxification and three plans to follow read The Detox Manual.  The Stress Protection Plan also gives detoxification tips.


Berry Whiz

Mixed berries (ie strawberries, blackberries, bluedberries) whizzed in a liquidiser, with silken tofu

Baltic Soup

Soften chopped onion, diced carrot, diced turnip and shredded cabbage in oil and leave to steam for 15 minutes. Add equal amounts of chickpeas, kidney beans and corn, and then cover with water.  Season with tamari, and paprika.
Simmer for 10  minutes. Add a large amount of chopped parsley and serve.

Paprika Chicken with Sage Lima Beans

Chicken:  Sauté 2 inch chicken pieces with spring onions and green pepper in a little olive oil, add chopped tomatoes and paprika. Lima beans with sage and garlic: Sauté cooked beans in oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, roughly chopped sage leaves.

Day 2 

Almond Apple

A baked apple stuffed with apricots and a teaspoon of almond butter.

Grated Roots and Veggieburgers

Veggie burger: Grated carrot (grate some extra for the salad), diced onion, large amount of chopped parsley and thyme, millet flakes and roasted sesame seeds.  Use enough beaten egg to bind the ingredients together and season.
Shape into burgers, brush with olive oil and cook in medium oven for 40 minutes. Serve with grated carrot (or sweet potato), grated beetroot and sweet corn.

Sprouted Bean Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Stir-fry: Onion, garlic, sprouts (i.e. sprouted lentils, mung beansprouts and/or alfalfa), mange-touts, fennel, red pepper, red cabbage and water chestnuts.  Season with tamari. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds and parsley.

Day 3

Crunchy Spiced Banana

Mash or chop a banana with a sprinkling of ginger and add mixed seeds, plus add a handful of blueberries or other berries.

Tuna with Beany Watercress and Mushroom Salad

Watercress, mung bean sprouts (or other sprouts), sliced button mushrooms, chopped parsley and spring onion. Serve with  tuna in a spicy dressing: lemon juice, flax, garlic and cayenne.

Vegetarian Chilli

Soften onion and garlic in oil.  Add cooked brown lentils, cooked kidney beans, green pepper, celery, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, chilli powder, cumin, and basil.    Serve with Soya yoghurt and a green salad.

Day 4  

Apple and Seed Crunch

Cooked puréed apple with cinnamon and 1-2tbs mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame)

Northern Beet Salad

Chop beetroot immediately after cooking. Leave in a marinade of garlic and vinegar for 30 mins.  Add finely chopped spring onion, cucumber and fresh dill, and mix with a small amount of natural live yoghurt.  Finally add chopped hard-boiled egg.  Serve on green leaves drizzled with lemon juice

Rainbow Rice

Sauté red pepper, carrot, pumpkin, red cabbage and spring onions (all chopped) in olive oil. Add tamari sauce and 1 cup of cooked brown rice per person.  Put a little water to cover bottom of pan and leave to cook for 5 minutes.  Add cayenne and tofu as required and a liberal amount of chopped parsley.

Day 5 

Fruit Kebabs

Skewer: passion fruit (cut into large chunks), fresh pineapple chunks and strawberries.  Grill lightly on all sides.  Eat with toasted almonds.

Thick  Spicy Leek and Potato Soup

Soften leeks in oil and herbs. Boil leeks and potatoes together with garlic pepper, turmeric, cumin and just enough water to cover.  When potatoes are soft, blend until smooth. Serve with sprinkling of grilled crispy bacon (no fat).

Steamed Vegetable Platter

Steam new potatoes (small), whole carrots, beetroot cut in quarters, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and a quartered courgette. Garnish with fresh herbs  and cherry tomatoes and dress with lemon juice.  Serve with mackerel pâté.

Day 6 

Prune and Apricot Compote

Stew the dried fruit and add soya yoghurt and chopped fresh nuts.

Tofu and Mushroom Medley

Stir-fry  mushrooms, garlic and chives in a little olive oil. Add tofu and tamari and serve with a green salad.

Smoked Chicken and Tomato Salad

Roughly shred the chicken by hand and toss into a salad made from fresh leaves and herbs (rocket, baby Cos, coriander, flat leaf, parsley, basil). Serve on a bed of sliced beef tomatoes with a flax oil and balsamic dressing.
Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Day 7 

Mulled Pears and Orange

Cut pears into 6 wedges and orange into segments.  Warm on a low heat with mixed spice and a little water.  Add whole almonds.  Serve warm.

Prawn and Globe Artichoke Salad

Boil the artichoke for 30 minutes.  Take off outer leaves and coarse centre and cut into wedges. (You could use artichoke hearts instead of fresh artichokes) Cut the free-range boiled egg in the same way.  Lay these on shredded lettuce, chives and shredded mint leaves with black olives and prawns.  Serve with a sharp mint dressing: olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic and mint.

Barbecued Monk Fish

Skewer monkfish chunks and pineapple chunks (alternating) on a barbecue skewer and either barbecue or grill until browned.  Serve with roasted vegetables and a green side salad.

First things first – stress!

We are all aware that one person’s stress is another’s excitement. To me, the idea of jumping out of an aeroplane in free fall, relying upon one little string pulled at the right moment, and one back up parachute (which may or may not work), is a total nightmare. I find it hard to think of many things that would induce greater stress for me. And yet I have just received a photograph of a friend happily doing a charity jump – having the time of his life. So what is stress exactly?

The truth is that to be alive is to be under a certain amount of stress – it is an occupational hazard of living. Hans Selyé recognised this, in the 1930s, when he coined the phrase ‘eustress’ meaning benign, or even beneficial, stress.

For instance we wake up in the morning because of slowly rising levels of adrenal hormones responding to light. Our internal clock is even clever enough to dictate that these hormones rise in the hour before we are due to wake up, even if it is dark outside. We also use adrenaline to motivate us, stretch us and keep ourselves focused – we set ourselves targets that need to be met, whether it is picking the kids up from school or delivering a thesis. The actor’s elevated adrenaline levels gets him onto stage and ensure his best performance – and, when tested, actors record the same level of adrenaline when months into a play’s run as on the first night. An athlete would be nowhere without the adrenaline that spurs her on to competing and focusing on winning, How often have you heard young go-ahead types – high flyers – say that they thrive on adrenaline and that they actually enjoy the cut and thrust of their job. Are all these people’s bodies under undue stress? Probably not.


The real problem is one of DIS-STRESS.

Distress usually implies conflict – when we are subject to one force that is the opposite to what we desire. Conflicts that can cause stress are many, and I am sure that you can think of endless examples in your life. For instance:

– You have to give a presentation as a part of your job, but you hate public speaking.

– You feel that you need a bit of a break – to be looked after for a while – but have to look after your children.

– You want to try for a new job, but fear that it may not work out and you’ll be worse off than you are now.

– You’ve said yes, you would do something for a demanding friend or relative, but wish you had the ability to say no more often.

– You need to complete a project but do not have enough time.

All these events are conflicts that require tools for resolving them, before they wear you down!

The other major area of distress is a feeling of lack of control. For example it is assumed, by many, that senior executives top the charts on stress scores. Yet the people who score much higher on the stress indices are blue-collar workers. It has been determined that this is because they do not feel that they are in control of their destinies – wages, working hours, type of work, who they work for and, ultimately, the ability to retain their jobs. It has been found that fighter-pilots returning from war zones had considerably less stress problems than their crew, who had no control over what was happening.

These days stress does not respect cultural, social or financial divides – everyone has some stress in their lives to contend with. But some people cope better with these external stresses than others and have more stress-busting skills to pick themselves up and get on with their lives.


WIN/ LOSE We are so used to thinking in terms of wining or losing in a given situation that it can come as surprise to learn that you can always win! Everything in our society if geared up to winning or passing – or losing or failing. We win or lose at sports, games, life and love. We pass or fail at exams, job interviews or diets.

LEARN What really happens when we ‘lose’ or ‘fail’ is that we simply do not get the result we desire. The desired outcome is to ‘win’ or to ‘pass’. The critical change of mind-set which can make a difference is to view each time that you do not get the outcome you desire as a lesson in how to perfect your technique. It is all about flexibility. The same action always gives rise to the same outcome. If you change the action then you will change the outcome, and this is what we call learning.

WIN / WIN So if you view the undesired outcomes as a series of clues which will enlighten you about how to improve your technique, you can create a new outcome. This means that you always win. Either you win outright, or you enhance your knowledge in such a way that you have a better chance of winning next time.


When faced with any challenge that tugs at your self-belief and you wonder ‘could I?’, ‘can I?’, ‘should I?’ – empower yourself by asking ‘If I were not afraid, what would I do?’. You have your answer.

• Get into the habit of looking to see how many paths you have open to you (this may take some practice). A rigid approach says ‘This is what I have to do’, ‘This is the only option’ or ‘This is just the way it is’. A flexible approach will say ‘These are the options I have’ or ‘I will seek options’.

• Send out clear signals that can’t be confused. Do not confuse assertiveness with selfishness or lack of regard for others.

  • Clarify your understanding of the issues before deciding to agree or not.
  • Get into the habit of saying ‘I’ll think about it and get back to you by 2pm’ rather than agreeing and then backtracking later.
  • Stand for what you believe in (while respecting the opinions of others).
  • Look for alternative solutions.
  • You have the right to say ‘no’.
  • Say ‘no’ with conviction.
  • Give reasons and not excuses.

Take a hike – physical activity increases levels of feel-good endorphins, improves self-esteem, does wonders for your sex-life, boosts mood and confidence, diminishes depression and anxiety and lowers the risks of a multitude of health problems.

• A crank is a man with a new idea – until it catches on. Mark Twain Don’t worry if the world thinks you are a crank!


The next time someone says to you “It’s all in your mind”, instead of being tempted to take a swing at them, stop for a minute – in one sense they are probably right. Our reactions to stress are governed not only by the stress hormones, but also by the chemicals firing in our brains. The ease, or difficulty, with which our brains fire off these chemicals, is one of the key differences in how we perceive stress, how we respond to it, and what our reactions are.

You may be astounded to know that the food we eat can make a radical difference to the way that these brain chemicals work. For instance, some people have a tendency to have an increased response to brain chemicals called beta-endorphins. In extreme cases the genetic trait can be responsible for families having a history of alcoholism or addictions. Illicit opiate drugs, such as morphine and heroin, raise beta-endorphin levels in the brain and this is highly addictive.

Sugar does the same thing and acts to increase beta-endorphin levels. If drugs are used to block beta-endorphin receptor sites, sugar consumption drops. Alcohol, which is a concentrated source of sugar, also affects beta-endorphin levels.

Serotonin is a brain chemical which can best be described as our ‘satisfaction’ chemical. When we have higher levels we feel good. If levels drop we feel lousy. One of the ways of raising serotonin levels in the brain is to eat tryptophan rich foods. Tryptophan is an amino-acid (protein building block) which, amongst other functions, is converted into serotonin. Tryptophan-rich foods include meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, yoghurt, nuts, and legumes such as: peas, beans and lentils. Particularly rich sources are turkey, cottage cheese, pheasant and partridge. Eating whole carbohydrates (such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, brown spaghetti, jacket potatoes and porridge oats) alongside tryptophan-rich foods helps to force the tryptophan to go down the route of turning into serotonin. Foods which do not contain tryptophan are fats and oils, sugar and alcohol.



The best meals to sustain energy, promote brain function and to support adrenal performance, are those which contain complex carbohydrates (C) in a balance with proteins (P). It is also wise to bulk out meals with vegetables, salads and fruits as often as possible – also designated (C). Some good choices could include:


Wholemeal toast (C) with poached egg (P) and grilled tomatoes (C).

• Plain live yoghurt (P) with chopped fruit (C) and ground sunflower seeds (P).

• Sugar-free muesli (C) with chopped fruit (C), soya or dairy milk (P), and ground pumpkin seeds (P).

• Yoghurt (try goats yoghurt for a change) (P) with wholegrain rice puffs (C) and berries (C).

• Lean grilled bacon (P) with mushrooms, onions and tomatoes (C).


Mixed green herb salad (C) with a small amount of crumbled feta cheese (P) and walnuts (P).

• Baked jacket potato (C) filled with sweetcorn (C) and salmon (P) bound with hummus (P/C).

• Thick lentil (P) and vegetable (C) soup.

• Beans (P) on rye toast (C).

• Tempeh or chicken burger (P) with shredded Chinese cabbage (C).

sprinkled with soya sauce and sesame seeds (P) on a wholemeal bun (C).

• Sardines (P) on wholemeal toast (C).


Flaked smoked fish (P) with brown rice (C), onions and peas (P/C)

• Beans (P) in spicy tomato, garlic and onion sauce with wholemeal cous-cous (C).

• Wholemeal pasta (C), or buckwheat noodles (C), with mushroom and seafood (P) sauce.

• Refried beans (P) with tacos (C) with guacamole and salsa

• Salad Niçoise with tuna (P), egg (P), salad, olives, millet (C) with herb olive oil dressing.

• Roast turkey (P) with broccoli, or other vegetables and roasted whole baby potatoes (C) and whole garlic cloves.

• Chicken (P) and coriander curry with brown rice (C).

• Grilled salmon fillets (P) with green beans (C) and savoury quinoa (C/P).

• Tofu (P) stir fry with julienned vegetables (C) and ginger, served with brown rice (C).


Rye crackers (C) spread with mackerel paté (P) and chopped cucumber

• Oatcakes (C) with nut butter (P) and strawberry slices (C).

• Sprouted wheat toast (C) with tahini (P) and tomato (C).

• Fruit (C) and nut (P) mix.

• Grilled mozzarella (P), and pasta sauce, on halved wholewheat pitta bread pockets (C).

• Rice cakes (C) topped with cottage cheese (P) and sliced apple (C).