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In Memory of Sky

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Three weeks ago today we had to say good by to our dear dog Sky. As any pet owner knows it is never easy to lose a pet and we hated having to make the decision to have her her ‘put to sleep’ but we and the vet thought it was time for her sake. I’m not going to dwell on that though.

This is in memory of a wonderful companion. Sky was originally Debbie and her families dog, but when Debbie became ill with ME/CFS she came to live with us in Cornwall to keep Debbie company while I was out at work. Much of the walking initially became my responsibility and I soon began to love Sky as Debbie did. She was a lovely Dog; and I while Debbie was too ill to come out I would often run with her, sometimes around the streets and sometimes around Siblyback where she could run off the lead. She would run beside me when I wanted and other times run free. It was a real pleasure to have her company when Debbie was too ill to come out, let alone run. I can remember during those times sometimes wondering whether Debbie would ever be well enough to join us.

Sky was also an important part of Debbie healing journey in so many ways and I know Debbie misses her too. As Debbie wrote in her post ‘Back to Health One Step at a Time‘   Sky helped Debbie get her strength back because she was encouragement to go out and walk and get fresh air.  She is the the SkyBlue in SkyBlueRiver.

There were so many good times and memories that include her; like teaching her to swim in the rivers, Debbie teaching her ‘tidy’ where she would put her toys back in her box, playing fetch, her company, her love of chasing leaves, the gentle way she sniffed Honey when we brought her home from the hospital…

We love you Sky.


When Listening to Your Doctor Does You More Harm Than Good

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noceboJust as the mind can help us with health treatments and healing, so too can it hinder. A poor outcome that had been totally generated by a subject’s negative expectation of a drug or treatment is known as a ‘nocebo’. For example research  shows that negative suggestions that lead to anxiety over a condition, can activate a peptide hormone called CCK that will intensify pain. Another example is highlighted in Daniel Moerman’s book Meaning, Medicine and the ‘Placebo Effect’ (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology) where he discusses Tagamet, a drug once popular for treating stomach ulcers. Initial trials on Tagamet found it to be 70-75% effective, but once a newer drug came along that was marketed as much better than Tagamet, subsequent Tagamet trials found it to only be 64% effective even though the chemical formulae had remained unchanged.

If better advertising of one product can diminish the positive effect of another, because of ‘negative expectation‘,  just imagine what effect some of the following statements might have:

“You’ve passed the deadline, according to the statistics you shouldn’t even be alive now”

“You will experience pain afterwords and it will be several weeks before you’ll be able to move around”

“You can’t possible be ready to deliver. You’re not in enough pain yet.”

“You need to accept that you’re not going home.”

They are sentences that have been told to people. Take that either way you like!

Words such as these delivered by people in positions of assumed authority, like medical staff, can create powerful nocebo responses and  I often find myself working with people to undo the harm done by words such as these.

So my advice is to be careful what you listen to to and believe, think about whether you are you being told a fact or an opinion, because predictions of your future potential for health are often opinions rather than facts.

Further Reading:
The Nocebo Effect: How Negative Thoughts Can Harm Your Health


An fMRI study on the neural mechanisms of hyperalgesic nocebo effect,F. Benedetti et al, J. Neuroscience 2006 , 26(46), 12014-22

The One Thing you Must Learn For your Health

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My journey back to full health from the misery of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was unfortunately longer than it could and should have been.  If we (my husband, Pete, and myself) had known back then what we did now, the trial and error we went through could have been avoided and we could have honed in on those things which not only really helped me but also have since been scientifically proven to help.

One of the therapies I tried back when I was ill was Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) otherwise known as Tapping.  I will be blogging more about this technique in upcoming blogs but, in a nutshell, EFT is a simple yet highly effective self-help tool based on energy psychology.  It is based on the Eastern philosophy of gently tapping on energy meridian points throughout the body, the same meridian points used in acupuncture and acupressure.  When I was ill, exactly how or why EFT worked was irrelevant to me; what I simply recognised was that I felt better after using it.  EFT is simply amazing at helping with emotional, physical and behavioural problems, as well as helping to overcome negative thoughts.

I was taught EFT by an experienced practitioner who showed me where the tapping points were and how to tap effectively, for maximum benefits and health gains.  Once I was taught it I could then use it myself at home whenever I needed to.  There were times when it did not seem to be as effective as it could have been and it was then that I knew it was time to see the practitioner again as she seemed able to ask the right questions to bring up emotions that might have been hiding under the surface and which I was too reluctant to tackle myself.  However, in general, tapping at home several times a day seemed to really help me feel more relaxed, which ultimately helped me feel physically better as well.

As I said, at the time, I did not really care how EFT was helping me, only that I knew that it was.  However it is really interesting now with hindsight to read emerging research on EFT which scientifically demonstrates the physical effects EFT can have and why it was so helpful to my recovery.

A randomized, controlled trial study(1) has recently shown how EFT can have a physical effect on the body by affecting the biochemical marker of stress called cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone, often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’ as it is often elevated when we are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.   In this study, 83 participants were divided into three groups.  Group 1 were given one hour of traditional psychotherapy, ‘talk therapy’, group 2 were given one hour of EFT and group 3 were the control group and given no interventions.  The cortisol levels of each group were measured before and after treatments.

The results were staggering.  There were no changes in the cortisol levels for participants in group 1 and 3, but in group 2, the EFT group, the cortisol levels decreased by 24%.  The researchers were so amazed by this response they thought that there must be an error in the readings and they recalibrated their equipment and retested.  After a lot of retesting which showed the same results, they finally accepted that there was nothing wrong with their equipment: EFT worked!

If one single session of EFT can have such a dramatic reduction in cortisol levels, imagine what regular tapping could do for your health?

As we have seen in our webinars, the stress response which is responsible for elevated cortisol levels has wide-ranging, debilitating physical affects on our body.  Something which starts life as an emotion or a negative thought can actually impact in a very real, physical way on how we are feeling, exacerbating our symptoms and hindering the body’s natural healing response.  In my case, the insidious impact of cumulative stressors which had crept up on me and which not only meant then when I got ME/CFS my body was already in a compromised, weakened state but which also kept me ill for so long, was a key factor in my illness.  Working with our clients, we know that I was not alone.  So many sufferers are hindered by the effects of stressors which are keeping them stuck in ill-health, it is really tragic and frustrating that not more is being done to make sufferers aware of what can be done to help them.

Looking back with the knowledge we now have from the researchers, I am convinced that learning and using EFT was a key factor in my recovery.  (In fact, it is now a key factor in my life, as when I recovered I went onto qualify as an Advanced Practitioner of EFT!)  We now know how important this simple tool is for our clients and teach it to them so that we are really putting control of their health back into their hands, or rather at the tip of their fingers.  If you would like to know more about this amazing tool which can revolutionise your health see Pete’s YouTube video and join us for one of our workshops and tap yourself back to health :)




1. Garret Yount, Audrey Brooks and Dawson Church,The Effect of Emotional Freedom Technique on Stress Biochemistry; A Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,2012

Why You Should Avoid Gluten – Like the Plague!

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glutenIf you are unwell, and especially if you are unwell and your Doctors are struggling to find an answer, cutting gluten (a protein found in wheat and related grains) from your diet could be the best thing you can do to help yourself. If feeling better is not enough of a reason to change, it may increase your motivation to know that many autoimmune conditions start just like that, feeling unwell with no obvious cause.

Gluten appears to be linked more and more with people feeling unwell and conditions involving the dysfunction of the immune system, where the immune system begins to attack parts of your body rather than just pathogens.

What Is Wrong with Gluten?

Some doctors and researchers are beginning to believe that gluten sensitivity may be a factor in every autoimmune disease. Certainly gluten seems to be involved with increasing the permeability of the gut lining which allows incompletely digested nutrients (good and bad bacteria, and other pathogens) into the bloodstream or lymphatic system creating an immune response. Leaky gut is the layman’s term being given to this phenomenon.  Exactly what leaks out of the gut will depend on the type of immune response, and therefore the symptoms you experience. However, this ‘leaky gut’ or increased gut permeability is bad news and is increasingly being linked with autoimmune conditions.

wheatIt is well known that autoimmune conditions may occur due to a genetic disposition, certain lifestyles and a trigger event but it also becoming evident  that a change in function of our gut lining is also a factor.

In addition to genetic predisposition and exposure to triggering nonself-antigens, the loss of the protective function of mucosal barriers that interact with the environment (mainly the gastrointestinal and lung mucosa) is necessary for autoimmunity to develop.

“Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases,”
Clinical Review of Allergy Immunology 42 (February 2012): 71–78.

Coeliac disease is a proven recognised example; four times more common today than it was fifty years ago, it is caused by a reaction of the immune system to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine leading to all kinds of problems. Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, headaches, mouth ulcers, sudden weight loss, hair loss, anaemia and osteoporosis. Coeliac condition is an example of an autoimmune disease and more and more autoimmune diseases are being linked to gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is also likely to cause the production of auto-antibodies because there are many amino acid sequences in gluten that are very similar to those of the proteins in the human body. Organs of the body can then be caught in ‘friendly fire’ as the antibodies produced to deal with the proteins in gluten attack parts of the body made from proteins that look very similar.

There are actually 140 autoimmune diseases that we’ve identified, and the only scientifically agreed upon cause for autoimmune is gluten sensitivity. Now, there are other triggers for autoimmune disease. An infection can trigger an autoimmune disease. A vitamin deficiency can trigger an autoimmune disease, particularly vitamin D. But gluten tends to be kind of that central core hub that’s always present.

—DR. PETER OSBORNE, gluten-sensitivity expert

Why Is This Important?

The list of diseases with a known or suspected autoimmune  origin is huge (see the list below). Whether you have already developed one of these, or are experiencing a lack of wellness, changing your diet can be beneficial. Healthy functioning of your gut is crucial to your health and well-being.

How do I use This Information?

The minimum I recommend is for you to go on a gluten free diet for at least a month. A month without foods containing gluten seems a good way of finding out how it can improve your health.

Ideally I would recommend you follow either of the the diets described here:

Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!

Your Personal Paleo Diet: Feel and look great by eating the foods that are ideal for your body

See my Healing Diets: Paleo or Crazy Sexy Vegan Diet for Health? post for more details on those protocols.

Of Interest:
David Perlmutter MD‘s post.

The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body


The following is a list of diseases that are either confirmed autoimmune diseases or for which there is very strong scientific evidence for autoimmune origins:

Acute brachial neuropathy (also known as acute brachial radiculitis, neuralgic amyotrophy, brachial neuritis, brachial plexus neuropathy, brachial plexitis, and Parsonage-Turner syndrome) Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
Acute necrotizing hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis Acute parapsoriasis (also known as acute guttate parapsoriasis, acute pityriasis lichenoides, parapsoriasis varioliformis, Mucha-Habermann disease, and parapsoriasis or pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta)
Addison’s disease (also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency, hypocortisolism, and hypoadrenalism) Adult linear IgA disease (also known as linear IgA disease)
Agammaglobulinemia Allergic granulomatosis (also known as Churg-Strauss syndrome)
Alopecia areata (AA; also known as spot baldness) American trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas disease)
Amyloidosis Anaphylactoid purpura (also known as purpura rheumatica and Henoch-Schönlein purpura)
Angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia (also known as Castleman’s disease, giant lymph node hyperplasia, and lymphoid hamartoma) Ankylosing spondylitis (AS; also known as Bekhterev’s disease and Marie-Strümpell disease)
Anti-GBM or anti-TBM nephritis Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS or APLS; also known as Hughes syndrome)
Aplastic anemia (also known as autoimmune aplastic anemia) Arthritis psoriatica (also known as arthropathic psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis)
Arthropathic psoriasis (also known as arthritis psoriatica and psoriatic arthritis) Atrophic polychondritis (also known as systemic chondromalacia and relapsing polychondritis)
Autoimmune angioedema Autoimmune aplastic anemia (also known as aplastic anemia)
Autoimmune cardiomyopathy Autoimmune dysautonomia
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia Autoimmune hepatitis
Autoimmune hyperlipidemia Autoimmune immunodeficiency
Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) Autoimmune myocarditis
Autoimmune pancreatitis Autoimmune peripheral neuropathy (also known as peripheral neuropathy)
Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome (APS) Autoimmune polyglandular syndrome, Types 1, 2, and 3
Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis Autoimmune retinopathy
Autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura (ATP; also known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) Autoimmune thyroid disease
Autoimmune urticaria Autoimmune uveitis (also known as uveitis)
Axonal and neuronal neuropathies
Balo disease (also known as Balo concentric sclerosis) Behçet’s disease (also known as Silk Road disease)
Bekhterev’s disease (also known as ankylosing spondylitis and Marie-Strümpell disease) Benign mucosal pemphigoid (also known as cicatricial pemphigoid, benign mucous membrane pemphigoid, scarring pemphigoid, and ocular cicatricial pemphigoid)
Berger’s disease (also known as IgA nephropathy and synpharyngitic glomerulonephritis) Besnier-Boeck disease (also known as sarcoidosis)
Bickerstaff’s encephalitis Bladder pain syndrome (also known as interstitial cystitis)
Brachial neuritis (also known as brachial plexus neuropathy, brachial plexitis, Parsonage-Turner syndrome, acute brachial neuropathy, acute brachial radiculitis, and neuralgic amyotrophy) Bullous pemphigoid
Castleman’s disease (also known as giant lymph node hyperplasia, lymphoid hamartoma, and angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia) Celiac disease (also known as coeliac disease and celiac sprue)
Chagas disease (also known as American trypanosomiasis) Chorea minor (also known as Sydenham’s chorea)
Chronic adrenal insufficiency (also known as hypocortisolism, hypoadrenalism, and Addison’s disease) Chronic focal encephalitis (CFE; also known as Rasmussen’s encephalitis)
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
Chronic recurrent multifocal ostomyelitis (CRMO) Chronic urticaria as a manifestation of venulitis (also known as urticarial vasculitis)
Churg-Strauss syndrome (also known as allergic granulomatosis) Cicatricial pemphigoid (also known as benign mucosal pemphigoid)
Cogan’s syndrome Cold agglutinin disease
Congenital heart block Coxsackie viral myocarditis
Cranial arteritis (also known as Horton disease, giant cell arteritis, and temporal arteritis) CREST syndrome (also known as limited systemic sclerosis or scleroderma)
Crohn’s disease Crow-Fukase syndrome (also known as Takatsuki disease, PEP syndrome, and POEMS syndrome)
Cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis (CFA; also known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and fibrosing alveolitis)
Demyelinating neuropathies (also known as idiopathic inflammatory demyelinating diseases) Dermatomyositis (DM)
Devic’s disease (also known as neuromyelitis optica) Diabetes mellitus type 1 (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes and type 1 diabetes)
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) Dressler’s syndrome (also known as postmyocardial infarction syndrome)
Duhring’s disease (also known as dermatitis herpetiformis)
Endocarditis lenta (also known as subacute bacterial endocarditis) Endometriosis
Eosinophilic esophagitis or gastroenteritis Eosinophilic fasciitis
Erythema nodosum Erythroblastopenia (also known as pure red cell aplasia)
Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia Evans syndrome
Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE)
Fibrosingalveolitis (also known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis)
Gestational pemphigoid (also known as herpes gestationis) Giant cell arteritis (also known as temporal arteritis, cranial arteritis, and Horton disease)
Giant lymph node hyperplasia (also known as lymphoid hamartoma, angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia, and Castleman’s disease) Glomerulonephritis
Goodpasture’s syndrome Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA; also known as Wegener’s granulomatosis)
Graves’ disease Guillain-Barré syndrome (also known as Landry’s paralysis and Miller Fisher syndrome)
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis) Hashimoto’s encephalitis or encephalopathy
Henoch-Schönlein purpura (also known as anaphylactoid purpura and purpura rheumatica) Herpes gestationis (also known as gestational pemphigoid)
Horton disease (also known as giant cell arteritis, temporal arteritis, and cranial arteritis) Hughes syndrome (also known as antiphospholipid syndrome)
Hypocortisolism (also known as hypoadrenalism, Addison’s disease, and chronic adrenal insufficiency) Hypogammaglobulinemia
Idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease (includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) Idiopathic inflammatory demyelinating diseases (also known as demyelinating neuropathies)
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF; also known as cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis and fibrosing alveolitis) Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP; also known as thrombocytopenic purpura and autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura)
IgA nephropathy (also known as synpharyngitic glomerulonephritis and Berger’s disease) IgG4-related sclerosing disease
Inclusion body myositis Insulin-dependent diabetes (also known as type 1 diabetes and diabetes mellitus type 1)
Interstitial cystitis (also known as bladder pain syndrome)
Juvenile diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes, and type 1 diabetes) Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Still’s disease)
Kawasaki syndrome (also known as Kawasaki disease, lymph node syndrome, and mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome) Kussmaul-Maier disease (also known as polyarteritis nodosa)
Lambert-Eaton syndrome (also known as Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome) Landry’s paralysis (also known as Miller Fisher syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome)
Leukocytoclastic vasculitis Lichen planus
Lichen sclerosus Ligneous conjunctivitis
Limited systemic sclerosis (also known as limited systemic scleroderma and CREST syndrome) Linear IgA disease (LAD; also known as adult linear IgA disease)
Lupus (also known as systemic lupus erythematosus) Lyme disease, chronic
Lymph node syndrome (also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome and Kawasaki disease) Lymphoid hamartoma (also known as angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia, Castleman’s disease, and giant lymph node hyperplasia)
Marchiafava-Micheli syndrome (also known as paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria) Marie-Strümpell disease (also known as ankylosing spondylitis and Bekhterev’s disease)
Ménière’s disease Microscopic polyangiitis (also known as microscopic polyarteritis)
Miller Fisher syndrome (also known as Guillain-Barré syndrome and Landry’s paralysis) Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD; also known as Sharp’s syndrome)
Moersch-Woltman condition (also known as stiff person syndrome) Mooren’s ulcer
Mucha-Habermann disease (also known as acute guttate parapsoriasis, acute parapsoriasis, acute pityriasis lichenoides, and parapsoriasis or pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta) Mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome (also known as lymph node syndrome and Kawasaki disease)
Multiple sclerosis Myasthenia gravis
Narcolepsy Neuromyelitis optica (also known as Devic’s disease)
Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid (also known as benign mucous membrane pemphigoid and scarring pemphigoid) Optic neuritis
Ord’s thyroiditis Ormond’s disease (also known as retroperitoneal fibrosis)
Palindromic rheumatism Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration
Parapsoriasis varioliformis (also known as Mucha-Habermann disease acute guttate parapsoriasis, acute parapsoriasis, acute pityriasis lichenoides, parapsoriasis or pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta) Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH; also known as Marchiafava-Micheli syndrome)
Parry-Romberg syndrome (also known as progressive hemifacial atrophy) Pars planitis (also known as peripheral uveitis)
Parsonage-Turner syndrome (also known as acute brachial neuropathy, acute brachial radiculitis, neuralgic amyotrophy, brachial neuritis, brachial plexus neuropathy, and brachial plexitis) Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus (PANDAS)
Pemphigus vulgaris PEP syndrome (also known as POEMS syndrome, Crow-Fukase syndrome, and Takatsuki disease)
Peripheral neuropathy (also known as autoimmune peripheral neuropathy) Perivenous encephalomyelitis
Pernicious anemia POEMS syndrome (also known as Crow-Fukase syndrome, Takatsuki disease, and PEP syndrome)
Polyarteritis nodosa (also known as Kussmaul-Maier disease) Polymyalgia rheumatica
Polymyositis (PM) Postmyocardial infarction syndrome (also known as Dressler’s syndrome)
Postpericardiotomy syndrome Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) Progressive hemifacial atrophy (also known as Parry Romberg syndrome)
Psoriasis Psoriatic arthritis (also known as arthritis psoriatica and arthropathic psoriasis)
Pure red cell aplasia (also known as erythroblastopenia) Purpura rheumatic (also known as Henoch-Schönlein purpura and anaphylactoid purpura)
Pyoderma gangrenosum
Rasmussen’s encephalitis (also known as chronic focal encephalitis) Raynaud’s phenomenon, disease, or syndrome
Reactive arthritis (also known as Reiter’s syndrome) Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Reiter’s syndrome (also known as reactive arthritis) Relapsing polychondritis (also known as atrophic polychondritis and systemic chondromalacia)
Restless legs syndrome (also known as Willis-Ekbom disease) Retinocochleocerebral vasculopathy (also known as Susac’s syndrome)
Retroperitoneal fibrosis (also known as Ormond’s disease) Rheumatic fever
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sarcoidosis (also known as Besnier-Boeck disease) Scarring pemphigoid (also known as ocular cicatricial pemphigoid and benign mucous membrane pemphigoid)
Schmidt’s syndrome (also known as autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2) Schnitzler syndrome
Scleritis Scleroderma
Sharp’s syndrome (also known as mixed connective tissue disease) Sicca syndrome (also known as Sjögren’s syndrome)
Silk Road disease (also known as Behçet’s disease) Sjögren’s syndrome (also known as Sicca syndrome)
Sperm and testicular autoimmunity Spot baldness (also known as alopecia areata)
Stiff person syndrome (also known as Moersch-Woltman condition) Still’s disease (also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis)
Subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE; also known as endocarditis lenta) Susac’s syndrome (also known as retinocochleocerebral vasculopathy)
Sydenham’s chorea (also known as chorea minor) Sympathetic ophthalmia (SO)
Synpharyngitic glomerulonephritis (also known as Berger’s disease and IgA nephropathy) Systemic chondromalacia (also known as relapsing polychondritis and atrophic polychondritis)
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; also known as lupus)
Takatsuki disease (also known as PEP syndrome, POEMS syndrome, and Crow-Fukase syndrome) Takayasu’s arteritis or disease
Temporal arteritis (also known as giant cell arteritis, cranial arteritis, and Horton disease) Thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP; also known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura and autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura)
Tolosa-Hunt syndrome Transverse myelitis
Type I diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus type 1 and insulin-dependent diabetes) Types 1, 2, and 3 autoimmune polyglandular syndrome
Ulcerative colitis Undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD)
Urticarial vasculitis (also known as chronic urticaria as a manifestation of venulitis) Uveitis (also known as autoimmune uveitis)
Vasculitis Vesiculobullous dermatosis
Wegener’s granulomatosis (also known as granulomatosis with polyangiitis) Willis-Ekbom disease (also known as restless leg syndrome)


Healing Diets: Paleo or Crazy Sexy Vegan Diet for Health?

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csd-vs-paleoHealthy eating is one of the key parts of the health puzzle, but what exactly is healthy eating? You will certainly struggle to find any anecdotal stories of miraculous healing following the government’s recommendation for 5 a day. The Standard Western Diet is just too full of rubbish to allow most of us to gain the full potential benefits of any fruit and veg we may add. However, more radical approaches often have many people citing them as reasons for their recovery.

So in this blog I want to look at an overview of two popular diets that people often cite as a reason for their drastically improved health.

By the time someone has decided to come and see me they are keen to make serious changes to improve their health and are often looking for a food plan to follow, as part of their healing journey. Normally I recommend either Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet (CSD) or the Paleo approach followed by the likes of Chris Kresser’s Personal Paleo Diet. Both of these diets have anecdotal accounts of healing and being at either end of the spectrum at least one should seem possible for you to follow. Kris Carr’s approach is what she believes has helped her recover from Cancer. The CSD is certainly very close to the way Debbie ate while recovering from CFS/ME and an autoimmune thyroid problem. While at the other end of the dietary spectrum, the paleo approach outlined by Chris Kresser also has many advocates, especially those with autoimmune problems.

On the face of it these diets are two extremes; CSD being vegan and Paleo often touted as meat heavy. I’m talking about CSD rather than just vegan or vegetarian as you can be vegan/vegetarian and still have a very unhealthy diet packed full of soy and processed foods. Crazy Sexy Diet is aimed at improving health and happens to be vegan. The concepts are also different:  In many ways the Crazy Sexy Diet is very modern; While on the other hand Paleo is an attempt to eat as our Paleolithic ancestors did in the belief that their hunter gatherer diet is optimal for our health because that is what we are designed to eat.

The key fact is that both diets have their supporters who claim huge benefits to their health by adopting their respective diet.

So lets do an overview of the approaches and start by comparing what the diets both exclude. I’ve done the comparison using Chris Kresser’s 30 day reset tweaked for those with autoimmune problems. as that seems fairly standard recommendation for a lot of health conditions.

Diagram showing how Paleo compares to Crazy Sexy Vegan
A comparison of foods excluded by Paleo and the Crazy Sexy Diet.
Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – What they Exclude

The diagram opposite shows the foods that are excluded, on the left from the Crazy Sexy Diet (CSD) and on the right from the suggested Paleo diet tweaked for autoimmune problems. In the middle cross over area are the foods excluded from both. You can click on it for a bigger version

As you can see there are actually more similarities than differences which may begin to explain why they can both seemingly facilitate healing. If the key concept is that some foods are damaging our health, then what is excluded may be more important than what is included.

Adding ‘nice things’ really is a joke as both diets can include truly delicious meals. It is the reaction of most people though to focus on what they will be missing rather than all of the nice things they can have.


A comparison of what you can eat on both diets
A comparison of what you can eat on both diets


Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – What Do They Suggest I Eat?

Lets look now at what you can eat on each diet. Both diets once again contain an overlap of foods that the authors say are good to eat. The diagram on the right shows an overview. Both authors certainly agree more on what not to eat though. It is also worth mentioning that  supplementation of B12 will be needed on a vegan diet; I’ve not included that as it not a food but rather a supplement.

The key thing here seems to be that the Crazy Sexy Diet gets a lot of protein from beans, nuts and legumes, where from a Paleo perspective meats offer a more nutrient dense source of protein.

Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo - The Contradictions

The source of protein is one of the big discrepancies between the two diets;  it would seem that the Crazy Sexy Diet relies on a food source that is actually excluded from the Paleo approach and the Paleo diet relies on animal products that are excluded from the Crazy Sexy Diet.

Let’s look at at why beans and legumes excluded from a Paleo diet, when they hold such an important role in the CSD. This seems somewhat of a grey area. Some experts say they are excluded because of the phytic acid they contain.  Phytic acid is said to block absorption of some nutrients like zinc.  However, according to some sources it seems that beans and legumes have less phytic acid than some of the foods that are included in the Paleo approach. Compounds called lectins which cause leaky gut and inflammation are another reason for excluding beans and legumes, but it seems that research suggests most of that is destroyed by heat and cooking. FODMAPs* are another reason, but then there are other fruits and vegetables that contain FODMAPS that are not automatically excluded. Chris Kessner seems to exclude them because they may cause problems and more importantly they are less nutrient dense than animal products, and those nutrients they do contain may also be less bio-available.

Time to move onto to why animal products are excluded from the Crazy Sexy Diet. Two main reasons are glaringly obvious; firstly the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, though obviously this is a moral standpoint rather than a health based one. Secondly the research between fat, red meat and cancer. On the face of things this would be damning to the Paleo approach, but when you look at the research there are potential flaws. A lot of Paleo supporters have pointed out that the study linking red meat to cancer seems to include a lot of meat eaters who are overweight, smoke and are inactive. The quality of meat eaten is also ignored and those following the Paleo approach would agree that factory farmed produce is bad for our health.

The diets also disagree on Fats;  Crazy Sexy Diet is promoting that saturated fats are bad for us and lead to cholesterol. This seems to be a rather outdated view point though. The Paleo diet promotes saturated fat as good energy source that we were designed to use.

In terms of ethos the Crazy Sexy Diet’s thrust is eating  clean and ‘alkaline’ foods for detoxing and health. Where the thrust of the Paleo approach is to eat nutritionally dense foods that allow the gut to heal which they believe is key to correct immune function. That is a brief overview of ethos and really needs a more comprehensive post in it’s own right, which will follow soon :)

Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – Where They Agree

Both diets also agree that inflammation is linked to many diseases and that the fatty acid omega 3 is very important for an anti-inflammatory diet. They also promote eating ‘clean’ in terms of reducing toxic load from pesticides and fertilisers etc. We also saw that both approaches agree on a lot of the foods to be excluded in a healthy diet. Although this paragraph seems short, in reality I think there are still more important aspects they have in common than not.

In Summary

This blog is an brief overview rather than an in depth comparison because so many people are completely unaware of what these diets involve and how they compare. Eating healthily is is confusing, with advocates on all sides claiming scientific reasons behind their choices and those choices do often conflict. These two specific diets are no different. However, the worst thing you could do is continue eating a standard western diet because you’re confused. I have little doubt what these two diets agree to exclude is crucial in the healing process.  I will be looking at both approaches in greater depths over the coming weeks, but I would love to hear your comments of how you got on with either/both approaches below :)


Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!

Your Personal Paleo Diet: Feel and look great by eating the foods that are ideal for your body

The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body

*FODMAP is an acronym for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides and monosaccharides and polyols,” which are basically a group of highly fermentable, short- and medium-chain carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems such as wind and bacterial overgrowth due to being poorly absorbed by some people.


What You Need to Know if You are Losing Hope of Regaining Your Health

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hopeIf you are a woman who has lost hope of regaining or even improving your health my next webinar is for you. It’s so easy to lose hope, a careless word from a Doctor, an unhelpful chat with another patient, a program on the TV. Sometimes it’s the little things that erode your hope over time, sometimes your hope is discarded ignorantly during a consultation. Maybe your diagnosis was a crushing experience, taking your breath away, leaving you numb, scarred, unable to think.

Studies have shown that if you want a chance of being healthy again, the worst state of mind is a stoic acceptance of fate, to become hopeless. One of the things I will show you on this webinar is that hope is vitally important.

In the face of ‘expert’ opinions and a system that seems most proficient of stealing control from you, it is understandable why you can end up feeling hopeless and like a mythical phoenix from the flames you can regain your hope of being healthy.Debbie-and-Pete-Cropped

To help we will be discussing three reasons why your body has the potential for ‘self induced healing’ and looking at some real life stories. Most importantly we will be giving you practical steps to get started with. Choosing to register now  is the first step of taking back control, deciding how you want to live you life.

So I really do hope you will choose to join us and just register now.

Looking forward to talking to you again.




Brain Fog Clouding your Day?

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brain fogLike many ME/CFS sufferers, I experienced debilitating brain fog for most of the time when I was ill.  For those of you that haven’t experienced this symptom, brain fog is the term used to describe impaired mental and cognitive functioning.  Years ago when I used to attend an aerobics class, I remember the teacher telling the class to imagine we were moving through mud (although the reasoning behind this is totally irrelevant to the issue in hand, I think the idea behind this is to imagine resistance so that the muscles of the body have to work harder!).  Well, for me, brain fog is the cognitive equivalent of trying to move through mud.  My thought processes seemed to go in slow motion and no matter how hard I tried to formulate a coherent thought, it was like trying to access information from some very slow, archaic computer, which clunked along seemingly operating but either not retrieving the correct information, or doing so so slowly that I had forgotten why I wanted it or garbling the information causing me confusion and frustration.  Holding a sensible conversation was totally impossible; I could not follow logical trains of argument on even the simplest of topics let alone formulate responses.  Following a short television programme or reading a few pages of a book, likewise ended up in a garbled and addled brain, confused, befuddled and exhausted by the sheer effort of trying to follow a linear trail of information.

Brain fog is an extremely common symptom for ME/CFS sufferers and I think I can safely say that all of our clients with ME or CFS have experienced this for at least some of the time before their recovery.  But what exactly is brain fog?  Well one hypothesis is that any stress impacting on the sufferer can exacerbate this symptom, the reason being is down to how our brain physiology changes when under stress.

Our brains have evolved significantly from the time 6 million years ago when we began to stand up and walk. Scientists believe that back then our brains were not so different from reptiles today. They could handle the essential functions of survival and little else. Eating, temperature control, running away or fighting, reproduction just think of what the average lizard does and you get the picture. As we evolved we developed new parts of brains with new functions. The first of these new areas is often referred to as the mammalian or limbic part as it has characteristics you associate with mammals. Emotions, feelings and basic communication are things you would normally associate with a dog or a horse. Look into a reptile’s eyes and you don’t see much emotion, but look into your dog’s eyes and we can often detect the emotion. The final new part of the brain is the cortex or neocortex; this is the clever part of brain that is involved with creativity, complex thought and language.

So how does this relate to stress? When stressed it is that old reptilian brain that takes over, and the rest of the brain goes on hold for a bit. If you think about it, this makes sense. When faced with a tiger, prehistoric man had few options. ‘Thinking’ would be likely to slow us down and result in a painful death! The part of the reptilian brain responsible for this prioritising of functions is known as the Amygdala.  Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, uses the phrase ‘Amygdala hijack’ to explain what happens, which I think sums it up very well. When the amygdala interprets a situation as a threatening it hijacks the brain, beginning the cascade of reactions involved in the fight or flight response.

Along with creating problems with our thought process, the amygdala also affects our memories. How many people remember of the details of a life threatening situation? How often does it all appear a “bit of a blur”? This is because stress affects our ability to store and retrieve memories[i]. Chronic stress in particular can negatively affect memory and learning[ii]  Even now, when I try to remember fine details of my illness before I recovered, it still seems a blur, because I don’t think my brain really focused on storing this information at the time; it was too busy counteracting the stress I was under and the stress associated with the condition itself.

Stress effectively robs us of the ability to think of anything more complex than running away or fighting and chronic stress hampers our ability to remember and learn. I don’t know about you but this certainly does sound like Brain Fog to me.

Thankfully, once I had started on my holistic journey back to health the fog did gradually clear, as I took control of stress and my limbic brain took over again and thinking through mud became a thing of the past :)


Sky Blue River


[i]Kuhlmann, S., Piel, M., Wolf, O.T. (2005). Imparied Memory Retrieval after Psychosocial Stress in Healthy Young Men. Journal of Neuroscience, 25(11), 2977-2982.

[ii]Pasquali, R. (2006). The Biological Balance between Psychological Well-Being and Distress: A Clinician’s Point of View. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75, 69-71.