Month: May 2014

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)