Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Day 365 - The Weather

“The weather has long been suspected of affecting people's health. Cold damp days can mean aching bones and joints for arthritis sufferers and a long hot spell can result in lost workdays for migraine sufferers. There is mounting evidence that certain health problems are aggravated or even brought on by the weather.

Some studies have suggested that migraine sufferers seem to be more susceptible to changes in the weather. Anything from temperature to humidity to barometric pressure can impact migraines. One of the theories suggested as to why weather impacts migraines is related to oxygen levels. Any changes in pressure affect oxygen levels and it is thought that this may be the mechanism by which headaches occur following certain weather patterns. Blood vessels in the head constrict and expand, leading to the throbbing head pain that is characteristic of a migraine.

The specific weather patterns that trigger migraines seem to yield mixed results. Some migraine sufferers find they react to changes in temperature while others find air pressure to strongly impact migraine frequency and severity. Many migraine sufferers also find humidity to be the deciding factor and still others experience headaches prompted by a combination of weather factors.

One study found that high heat and humidity combined with low pressure led to headaches. Intense cold is also a trigger for some migraine sufferers. There is also the suggestion that it is not so much the weather type itself but the change that accounts for headaches. This means that an abrupt change will trigger a migraine rather than a gradual seasonal change. A bright sunny day followed by a cold rainy one could thus prompt a migraine for some people. This is possibly due to an increased sensitivity in the brains of those who suffer from migraines.

The studies show that migraines are more prevalent in locations where warmer air is moving in. Chronic pain sufferers are most affected by changes in temperature, humidity, precipitation and sudden changes in the weather.”

Fast Facts

- Migraines tend to be more prevalent under two types of weather conditions: when the weather becomes more humid and cooler; and during long hot spells.

- Chronic pain sufferers are most affected by changes in temperature, humidity, precipitation and sudden changes in the weather.

- Arthritis acts up with strong atmospheric cooling and is influenced by dampness.
Depression is more prevalent in the warm sector of a weather system.


It is the headache’s first year anniversary today. What can I say? Who would have thought I would still have a headache a year later? Who would even think it possible? I dread to think how long it will go on for. Maybe it will never leave me. I guess the positive thing (if we can call it positive) is that I have learned to live with it - I am really trying not to make it affect my every day life, whether this be in terms of where I work or how long I go out for in the evenings with my friends. After all I am still very young and have a life to live.

I have been based in Russia for work for the past few weeks and the headache has certainly improved. The cold dry climate has helped - I haven’t had any severe attacks, and the headache has been stable at about 2/10 to 3/10 which is perfectly bearable. Obviously not normal but I can put up with it.

When walking around in extreme temperatures (-25C), the cold appears to block the headache, nearly freeze it, shall we say, rendering it numb. The cold air gives the impression it’s cleansing your lungs and even helping the blood circulate in your head. It’s so cold that you can’t feel the pain, until you walk into a building again and you realize the headache never really left you. The possibility of being able to temporarily numb the pain - albeit in extreme temperatures - has made me start to love the cold.

I certainly think the weather has played a part in my well being, although I also believe it’s thanks to the supplements the kinesiologist gave me and that I have now been taking for the past few months.

I returned to London a few days ago and the headache seems to have dropped down to a 4/10-5/10 which leads me to think that the weather has influenced the severity of my headache. Whether this is due to the difference in temperature itself or simply because of the dry air - or a combination of both -, I do not know. On the other hand, it may just be a pure coincidence as the headache has been at its best for the past couple of months, and I may just be having a little bit of a relapse...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Day 326 - A little bit of Hope ... for the best or for the worst?

“Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

Hope was personified in Greek mythology as Elpis. When Pandora opened Pandora’s Box, she let out all the evils except one: hope. Apparently, the Greeks considered hope to be as dangerous as all the world's evils. But without hope to accompany all their troubles, humanity was filled with despair. It was a great relief when Pandora revisited her box and let out hope as well. It may be worthy to note that in the story, hope is represented as weakly leaving the box but is in effect far more potent than any of the major evils.

In 'Human, All Too Human', philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that "Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.”*


Once again, I have been relatively silent for a couple of weeks. I don’t have anything to report. Or should I say I do? I still have a headache. It has oscillated between 3 and 4 so I can’t really complain. I have been keeping myself busy as I have now managed to start working again - it feels great to finally do something I enjoy (with a constant headache nonetheless).

I keep on wondering, though, who I should ‘warn’ about my headache. It’s a hard decision to make especially in a work environment - what if once you tell those you work with they don’t see you in the same light anymore? What if they worry you’ll call off sick the whole time if the strong attacks return? Is it wise to tell your colleagues about it? Probably not?

Who would you tell if you had a constant headache? Would you tell everyone about it so that they could try and understand (although as far as I am concerned no one ever will) what it is like?

I am torn between telling people and keeping it as a secret. It has got to a point where when I earn some money I am happy that I finally have some cash ‘for me and the headache’. The headache has virtually become my child. I need to earn money to keep the headache at bay, as if it were a little person living with me, someone else I need to look after. Acupuncture, supplements, kinesiologist... / Nappies, baby food, clothes... We’re not too far off when it comes to comparing the two.

On the one hand, I feel I want people to know about my headache for a number of reasons; first of all, maybe they know someone who is living or has lived through a similar thing - perhaps they could put me in touch with them and they will give me the ‘solution’? This is where I always feel there’s a bit of hope. A feeling that I have harboured for 11 months. For the best or for the worst? The feeling is always there but it's constantly being poked at with disappointment.

Secondly, I feel that I should tell people so that if at times I am in an irascible mood then they will know why. I always try my best not to let the headache affect my relationship with others but sometimes it is hard. When you think your head is going to explode and someone is talking to you about something you perhaps don’t even want to listen to because they are so boring and you wish nothing else but for them to disappear and for you to slowly sink into the ground, then it’s hard not to be querulous and lose your patience with them (yes, it has happened to me on a number of occasions).

Having said that, other times I would rather people not know about my headache. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me and to treat me differently. Why should they?

Since the headache started 11 months ago, when meeting someone new, I have always told myself that they will never know what I am really like as the headache sometimes affects my behaviour; at times it transforms me into someone I am not and I hate it for that. Nonetheless, deep down I know that who I am is really still me and that they should like me whether I have a headache or not. But I can’t avoid thinking about whether I would act differently around them were I not to have a headache.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Day 310 - Probiotics

“Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, is the best known.

It has been suggested that probiotics be used to treat problems in the stomach and intestines. But only certain types of bacteria or yeast (called strains) have been shown to work in the digestive tract.

In most circumstances, people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill "good" (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to diarrhea. Taking probiotic supplements (as capsules, powder, or liquid extract) may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria and thus help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to development of other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.”


Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I write a new post either when I have explored a new avenue as a possible cause for my headache, or when someone has suggested looking at a specific factor that may be contributing to the pain.

I have now run out of avenues to explore. I have not come across anything else, whether this be through research or by talking to others, that I have not looked at.

I am still clueless.

But I am still taking my supplements, and feel that the probiotics the kinesiologist suggested taking are somewhat alleviating my pain. Having said that, I do not know if it happens to be a coincidence that my headache seems to have been alright for the past couple of weeks or if it is actually better because of the probiotics themselves. I did take them a few months ago and, if I am not mistaken, I did feel better during that time.

My zinc drops that I ordered over three weeks ago have, nonetheless, not arrived thanks to the postal strike. Thank you Royal Mail.

On the low pain days I feel full of life and energy, ready to live the day ahead to the max. One temporarily forgets about the severe pain, and it’s not until it returns that you realize just how bad it is.

The other day somebody told me that - strange as it may sound and difficult as it may be - I have to start to befriend my pain, as this will help me come to terms with it. It may also help me get less worked up about it as the pain itself causes stress. Given that I have no answer and am not able to justify what I am living through, it angers me, thereby making me stressed.

I now have to try and befriend the pain and almost treat it as if it were one of my peers - given that I need to spend all day and all night with it, it’s best if I consider it a friend as opposed to an enemy. I have tried, and it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when the pain intensifies and all I want to do is bang my head against the wall and tell the headache to stop tormenting me...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Day 299 - Zinc

“Along with calcium and iron, zinc is probably the most important mineral to the human body. Zinc plays a crucial role in growth and cell division where it is required for protein and DNA synthesis, in insulin activity, in the metabolism of the ovaries and testes, and in liver function. It is particularly important for healthy skin and is essential for a healthy immune system and resistance to infection, as it helps with the healing of wounds. As a component of many enzymes, zinc is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and energy.

Our body contains about 2-3g of zinc. There are no specific storage sites known for zinc and so a regular supply in the diet is required. Zinc is found in all parts of our body, 60% is found in muscle, 30% in bone and about 5% in our skin. Particularly high concentrations are in the prostate gland and semen. Men need more zinc than women because male semen contains 100 times more zinc than is found in the blood. The more sexually active a man the more zinc he will require.

The first signs of zinc deficiency are impairment of taste, a poor immune response and skin problems. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency can include hair loss, diarrhoea, fatigue, delayed wound healing, and decreased growth rate and mental development in infants. It is thought that zinc supplementation can help skin conditions such as acne and eczema, prostate problems, anorexia nervosa, alcoholics and those suffering from trauma or post-surgery.

Zinc is contained in a wide range of foods but the richest sources are meat (lamb in particular), oats, eggs, nuts and oysters. Only 20% of the zinc present in the diet is actually absorbed by the body. Dietary fibre and phytic acid, found in bran, wholegrain cereals, pulses and nuts, inhibit zinc absorption. Phytic acid forms a highly insoluble complex with zinc which the body cannot absorb. Cooking processes can reduce the adverse effects of both phytic acid and dietary fibre on zinc absorption. Baking can destroy over half the phytic acid in wholemeal bread.

Zinc deficiency occurs where a large part of the diet consists of unleavened bread, such as Iran and other Middle East countries. High levels of the toxic mineral cadmium can also prevent zinc absorption because these two minerals compete for absorption. Conversely high levels of zinc in the diet can prevent the absorption of cadmium. Various chemicals added to many processed foods can also reduce zinc absorption eg phosphates, EDTA. Zinc is lost via the faeces, urine, hair, skin, sweat, semen and also menstruation.”*

I have been off the blogging radar for a few weeks - I have managed to start working again! What excitement at the age of 25. The headache seems to have stabilized itself to about 3 to 4/10 (when standing) which is great. When lying down it continues to be worse, about 6/10.

I have been seeing the kinesiologist on a regular basis, who has been looking at a number of headache causes from cranial faults to vitamin deficiencies. I am now taking zinc supplements. I recently learned that a zinc deficiency can cause, or certainly exacerbate, everything from acne to diabetes. This is because zinc is needed by the body to make insulin (the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood), eliminate harmful toxins, and to maintain a healthy immune system.

Yesterday I also went to see one of the top neurologists at Queen’s Square in London, reputedly the place to go when you’ve given up with everyone else. I was surprised the doctor was glad to hear I was not taking any medication; he encouraged me to continue without, given my progress in the past few months.

“There are a number of patients in the ward upstairs who have had a headache for twenty years” he told me. “They have all been on heavy medication for all that time, and you have no idea how much worse their headache is now as a result of that”. He did, however, give me some suggestions as to what to take should the headache get worse again and should I decide to start taking some medicines. It was certainly refreshing to hear a doctor of western medicine encourage me to “see where your natural path takes you”.

He also explained that given my family’s history of migraines, he believes it is perfectly normal to have started suffering from a headache/migraine at my age, in particular given that I am female. He explained that sometimes these bizarre constant headaches go away by themselves, while other times they stay... for a long, long time.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Day 276 - CSF Leaks and Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension

"Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension (SIH) is a condition where a patient gets postural headaches due to a leak of the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) in the spinal membrane. What happens is that the leak causes low CSF pressure within the nervous system, and thus causes a constant string of headaches to the patient. The problem with SIH is that it is very hard to diagnose and there is not a great deal of information on why it occurs.

Cerebrospinal Fluid is formed in ventricles of the brain. It moves through the ventricles and leaves the brain at the base, underneath the cerebellum. Then, the fluid moves into the spinal cord and the nerves, and finally returns to the brain. Throughout this time, the CSF is moving through a membrane, called the dura that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The condition of Intracranial Hypotension (IH) develops when a rupture occurs in the membrane. Thus, the CSF leaks out of the dura, causing a dislocation of the brain downward and "pressure on pain-sensitive structures." IH can develop as a result of brain surgery, spinal surgery, or any major trauma to the head. However, as in the case of SIH, the rupture can sometimes occur spontaneously. In other words, there is no known cause for the rip in the dura. Some doctors speculate that the spontaneous tear is due to the initial weakness of the dura, or a traumatic event that went undetected; however there is not a great deal of information on this subject.

The principal symptom of Spontaneous CSF leaks is headaches. The headaches only occur when the patient is upright, and gradually disappear when the patient is lying down. In most cases, the headaches gradually increase from the moment the patient wakes up in the morning. However, in other cases the headaches are quick and severe. The acuteness of the headaches varies in each case, which affects how quickly the condition is diagnosed. Some of the related symptoms of SIH are a loss of hearing, tinnitus, vertigo, stiffness of the neck, nausea, and even vomiting.

Since the primary symptom of SIH is constant and severe headaches, it is often misdiagnosed. In some cases of SIH, the condition disappears as spontaneously as it appeared. Mild cases can be cured through a general increase in fluids, especially caffeine, and lots of rest. However, more serious cases will require a procedure called the epidural blood patch. This is a procedure where autologous blood is injected into the patient's lumbar spine. The blood travels through the spinal cord, finds the rupture in the dura, and clots the rupture.

Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension is a very rare type of a Cerebrospinal Fluid leak, but unlike other types, it does not occur due to any specific traumatic event or surgical procedure in the nervous system. Although there is not much information on the possible causes of SIH, it is suspected that an intrinsic weakness of the spinal membrane or an abnormality of the brain structure causes the rare condition."*


For some reason or another, the headache has been behaving itself again as of late (except this morning when I had a bit of a relapse). I am still taking the supplements the kinesiologist advised using; they seem to be working. Along with that, I have been doing acupuncture on a regular basis for the past month or so, and I feel it’s really made a difference.

During one of the acupuncture sessions I felt my hands heat up until they felt as if they were on fire (my circulation is not great, and my hands are always freezing cold - it was such a nice feeling to suddenly have boiling hot hands). During the following session, the same thing happened but to the right half of my back, where one of my kidneys is. Very interesting considering that the Chinese acupuncturist suggested my headache may be related to my kidney. The needles were definitely doing something.

In the meantime I have been trying to figure out why my headache worsens the second I lie down, whether this be during the day or at night. I can lie down for just two minutes at any time and the headache will hurt more than when I am standing. In the mornings, I am often forced out of bed as I know that once I walk around for a few minutes the pain will slightly subside, albeit by no means in its entirety.

A number of people I have come across on the MD Junction forum have suggested looking into CSF leaks. Like many conditions, Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension has been found to be more common in women than in men. The condition usually develops while the patient is between 40 and 60 years of age (not my case).

Like so many neurological disorders (and indeed disorders in general), little is known as to its primary causes. By what I have read, it would appear that I can rule out SIH as a possible cause for my headache - I don’t belong to the age category, I have not had any major brain injuries, and my headache actually worsens when lying down as opposed to improving, and most certainly never disappears in its entirety. Having said that, everybody is different, and you can just never say never, can you?

I just struggle to believe that after 276 days of constant headache (who would even believe it's possible to have a headache for that long?), I still don't have an answer as to what it is.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Day 260 - Intracranial Hypertension

“In the 1890s, a German physician named Heinrich Quincke coined the term “pseudotumor cerebri” to describe a neurological disorder which he believed had all the symptoms of a brain tumor, but without the presence of an actual tumor. The “false brain tumor” that Quincke identified more than a century ago is known today as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

There are two forms of chronic intracranial hypertension: idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), whereby there is no identifiable cause that triggers the raised intracranial pressure, and secondary intracranial hypertension, which, in contrast to IIH, always has an identifiable cause (such as a head trauma, an underlying disease, a reaction to a certain drug). Intracranial hypertension literally means that the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the skull is too high. “Intracranial” means “within the skull.” “Hypertension” means “high fluid pressure.”

Cerebrospinal fluid is one of three major components inside the skull; the other two are the blood supply that the brain requires to function and the brain itself. Under normal circumstances, these components work together in a delicate balance. Since the skull is made of bone and cannot expand, an increase in the volume of any one component is at the expense of the other two components. For example, if the brain swells and becomes enlarged, it simultaneously compresses blood vessels, causing the sub-arachnoid space to fill with more spinal fluid. This results in an increase in intracranial pressure (i.e. cerebrospinal fluid pressure), as well as a decrease in blood flow.

CSF has several important functions. It cushions the brain within the skull, transports nutrients to brain tissue and carries waste away. CSF is produced at a site within the brain called the choroid plexus, which generates about 400-500 ml. (one pint) of the fluid each day.

Chronic IH can cause both rapid and progressive changes in vision. Vision loss and blindness due to chronic IH are usually related to optic nerve swelling (papilledema), which is caused by high CSF pressure on the nerve and its blood supply. In addition, individuals with this disorder often suffer severe pain. The most common form is a chronic headache, which is generally unresponsive to the most potent pain medication.”*


As I type this post, my headache is surprisingly ‘good’. About 2/10 - excellent news! Hopefully by the end of the post it won’t have increased, given its moody temper.

Lately I have been trying to find out why my headache hurts much more the second I lie down (whether during the day or at night) - so far I have only come across one other person (on a forum) whose headache also worsens when lying down. He doesn’t know why this happens either, but he strongly suggested placing corn bags on my head at night. He explained that he has found some relief from wrapping very cold corn bags around his head, having left the bag in the fridge all day long.

A number of people have told me to look at Intracranial Hypertension, as apparently those who are afflicted with this illness also have a stronger headache when lying down.

Curiously, Intracranial Hypertension was first documented in the sixteenth century by a Dutch explorer, Gerrit de Veer, who identified the toxic effects of polar bear liver on early Artic explorers. Several men in his expedition developed secondary intracranial hypertension (SIH) and nearly died after consuming polar bear liver, which contains lethal levels of Vitamin A. Excessive ingestion of vitamin A is now a recognized SIH cause (no doubt children will be delighted to hear this).

When looking at the possibility of having Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, one must:

a) have signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure, such as papilledema and headache;
b) have no localizing findings on neurological examination (Localizing findings are findings that point to injury of specific brain areas. For instance, a localizing finding could be the inability to move a certain muscle.);
c) have a normal MRI/CT scan with no evidence of venous obstructive disease;

d) have high intracranial pressure of 250mm/H2O or above on a spinal tap, with no abnormalities of cerebrospinal fluid;

e) be awake and alert;

f) have no other cause of increased intracranial pressure found.

I can safely tick all of these but two (namely d and f, as I have not had either of these examined as yet).

Given that my unmitigated headache still remains a bit of a mystery to all, it could be an idea to also look into this condition. Just the thought of returning to my GP grates me - the fact that I have to re-explain everything from scratch pretty much every time is tedious enough, but more than anything what I find frustrating is that I know that deep down many of these doctors just think that I am a hypochondriac. If only they knew.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Day 254 - Lyme Disease

“Lyme disease is an infection that derives from a tick bite. The disease has a variety of symptoms, including changes affecting the skin, heart, joints and nervous system. It is also known as borrelia or borreliosis.

Lyme disease is caused by an infection from a micro-organism (Borrelia burghdor feri), itself transmitted by a bite from the wood tick, a blood-sucking parasite which normally lives on deer.

The wood tick is found in many areas, particularly in forests where deer are common. A tick will settle anywhere on a human body, but prefers warm, moist and dark places like the crotch or armpits. When the tick has found a suitable place on the body, it sticks in its probe to draw up blood, exposing the host to the risk of infection.

Some patients with Lyme disease feel like they have caught influenza - the symptoms may be:
  • drowsiness
  • headaches
  • mild fever
  • joint and muscle pains
  • swollen lymph glands
Interestingly, the disease only became apparent in 1975 when mothers of a group of children who lived near each other in Lyme, Connecticut, made researchers aware that their children had all been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. This unusual grouping of illness that appeared "rheumatoid" eventually led researchers to the identification of the bacterial cause of the children's condition, what was then called "Lyme disease" in 1982.”*

* *

I have managed to find a great online support community, and have across a number of people who have been suffering from New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH). Although I haven’t officially been diagnosed with the condition, it’s refreshing to see others who understand what it is like to constantly have a headache.

One person with NDPH has been suffering for 18 years. Imagine 18 years with a headache! And me, who thought that over eight months was bad enough. Just the thought is barely conceivable.

I have been in touch with a lady who woke up with a severe headache in July last year which never went away. In March this year she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and is now trying to spread the word as she is, finally, headache free.

She suggested I look into the condition. Having done some online research, it does not immediately appear that I have the illness as I have no other symptoms, although she told me that a couple of her friends with Lyme only have a constant headache and nothing more; another acquaintance of hers has the typical Lyme tired and constant headache but no other symptoms either.

She sent me a link to this interesting video documentary on Lyme Disease.

Whether I am afflicted with Lyme or not, I am helping her to spread the word as she only managed to find out what her headache was caused by through her constant persistence and desire to get a diagnosis. Once again, another thing to look into.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Day 249 - Parasites

“Parasites are organisms that obtain nourishment and shelter from other organisms. In this association, the parasite derives all the benefits, whereas the host may either be unaffected or suffer harmful consequences, with the development of a parasitic disease.

The parasites responsible for these diseases are called obligate if they can live only in association with a host and facultative if they can live either in a host or independently. Furthermore, the parasites vary widely in size and complexity, from relatively simple unicellular protozoans (eg, amebae) to more complex multicellular organisms (eg, worms, flukes).

Parasitic diseases are distributed worldwide, with a higher prevalence in developing countries, especially in areas with inadequate sanitation. Some of these diseases are restricted to tropical and subtropical regions. Parasitic diseases represent one of the most common types of human infection throughout the world and are still the cause of much human morbidity and mortality.

With the growth of global travel there has been a huge increase in the number of tropical infectious diseases diagnosed in the northern hemisphere. 35% of asymptomatic people returning from travel had parasitic infections (ref: Whitty et al 2000).”*


Given that most alternative therapies have pointed to a problem in the gut/liver, the possibility of there being a parasite still very much exists for me, despite the results of the tropical diseases tests I did in Senegal back in February.

Last week I went to the Tropical Diseases Hospital in London; the doctor was delightful - not your typical doctor who gives you a supercilious look as soon as you ask questions and try and further inquire as to what he is doing. This doctor took the time to explain things to me, expounding upon the various kinds of tropical diseases and parasites that exist, which made all the difference.

Curiously, one of the most common tropical diseases that people are afflicted with is schistosomiasis, where worms grow inside the blood vessels and produce eggs. The most common occurrence of schistosomiasis among travellers is acquired when swimming in Lake Malawi.

According to the doctor, neurological symptoms are usually accompanied by lumps - given that I do not have any, it seems unlikely that I am afflicted by a tropical disease. Having said that, the possibility cannot be ruled out because, as the doctor explained, there are numerous other undetected tropical diseases whose symptoms are not yet certain.

I was given three testers and asked to hand in some samples over three days (pots, spatulas, paper trays.. will spare the details). I am now awaiting the results.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Day 244 - Headache Types

Photograph: Nick Veasy/Getty Images
“We all know what it's like to have a headache. They can turn the best of occasions into a form of torture. Four out of five people get tension headaches. One in seven experience migraines. Headaches cost the economy around £1.5bn a year through lost work days.

Trouble is, while some causes of headaches are obvious – such as when you've had too many glasses of wine the night before – others are more tricky to call. And how can you tell what's serious and what isn't? A good starting point is knowing what type of headache you have.”*


As I write this post, I feel like my head is going to split. This morning I came across the Organization for the Understanding of Cluster Headache (OUCH), who I contacted for more information on hemicrania continua and New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH). It was the first time I have spoken to someone who has heard about these conditions.

The above extract was taken from an article in the Guardian that I recently read. Headaches, therefore, seem to be the most ‘popular’ form of pain, despite the fact that so little is known about them. Vast amounts of research continue to be conducted in this field, but little remains known as to the causes, and indeed how best to cure, these headaches.

What I find curious is that almost all webpages (including that of this article) that talk about headaches categorize these into tension headaches, cluster headaches and migraines. They do not mention any other forms of headache, despite telling us that ‘a good starting point is knowing what type of headache you have’. How can we, if no one tells us about the other types of headache? Some would argue that these conditions are subdivisions of cluster, tension and migraine headaches, but little - if anything, even under the subdivision of these headaches - is mentioned about the lesser known types of headaches such as hemicrania continua and NDPH.

It surely is no coincidence I didn’t come across hemicrania continua or NDPH, because I have spent hours on the internet reading and researching about different types of headache, and indeed even speaking to neurologists about them, both of whom failed to even mention the two conditions!

Although there is not much known about hemicrania continua and NDPH, why are these hardly ever mentioned, in particular on some neurologists’ webpages and in other comprehensive medical journals? Is it because science is nearly embarrassed, should we say, by the little that is known about these two conditions? Would it not help if scientists, and indeed the media, gave them more coverage so that more people can learn about these, thus possibly be diagnosed with them which would, in its turn, enable more studies to be conducted on these conditions?

Friday, 14 August 2009

Day 236 - Agnus Castus

“Agnus castus has been used for thousands of years for its beneficial effect on the female hormonal system. Modern research has confirmed this use, the seeds being used to restore balanced functioning to the female reproductive system.

The berries of this plant have a range of medicinal actions but possibly the most important is its ability to rectify hormonal imbalances caused by an excess of oestrogen and an insufficiency of progesterone. It acts upon the pituitary gland, reducing the production of certain hormones and increasing the production of others, shifting the balance in favour of the gestagens.

Thus it has a wide application of uses in malfunctions of the feminine reproductive system. Some caution is advised since excessive doses can cause a nervous disorder known as formication, which manifests as a sensation of insects crawling over the skin.”*


Whoever has been stabbing that voodoo doll felt some pity and compassion not only on my birthday itself but also during the week thereafter. The headache was once again at its best, and the timing could not have been any better. Unfortunately, though, it only lasted for less than a week. It has since been up and down, fluctuating between 1/10 to 7/10.

A lot of people have asked me how I cope with having a constant headache - I never really know what to answer because what other options are there but to cope?

The last time I went to see the kinesiologist it appeared that my body had an excess of oestrogen; I have now also started taking agnus castus, a tincture which reduces the production of certain hormones in the body.

Interestingly, some studies claim that the agnus castus berries are considered to be an aphrodisiac, though other reports say that they are anaphrodisiac. The reason for this apparent contradiction is that the berries have a regulating effect on the body and so are likely to increase sexual activity in those who are not very active in this area whilst reducing it in those who are very active.

Although I have not got rid of my headache, I have definitely seen a number of changes over the past few months. There have been times when the headache has been 1/10 which has never happened before. I am hoping this improvement will continue to manifest itself more tangibly until the pain is annihilated in its entirety.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Day 227 - New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH)

“In the last few years, New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH) has been recognized as a distinct primary headache syndrome. Primary headache disorders are those for which there is no underlying secondary cause that can be identified.

It is characterized by continuous daily head pain, varying in intensity, and sometimes accompanied by some migrainous symptoms. NDPH is unique, however, in that many patients can tell you the exact date when their headache began.

The diagnostic criteria of NDPH are as follows:

A. Headache for more than 3 months fulfilling criteria B–D
B. Headache is daily and unremitting from onset or from less than 3 days from onset
C. At least two of the following pain characteristics:
1. bilateral location
2. pressing/tightening (non-pulsating) quality
3. mild or moderate intensity
4. not aggravated by routine physical activity such as walking or climbing stairs
D. Both of the following:
1. no more than one of photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound) or mild nausea
2. neither moderate or severe nausea nor vomiting
E. Not attributed to another disorder

Headache may be unremitting from the moment of onset or very rapidly build up to continuous and unremitting pain. Such onset or rapid development must be clearly recalled and unambiguously described by the patient.

Many doctors consider NDPH to be the most treatment refractory (not responsive to treatment) of headache disorders. Unfortunately, NDPH can be very disabling because it often does not respond to preventive or abortive medications.”*


It’s my birthday today. Back in February, when my headache was in its early stages, I once thought to myself ‘I wonder what I will be doing on my birthday - by then I will surely know what has caused the headache’.

So in a way I have been looking forward to this day, not because it is my birthday as such, but because for the past few months I have convinced myself that by August I would definitely know where the problem lies.

When reading about Hemicrania Continua, I also came across another condition called New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH) which also appears to be similar to what I have.

In 2002, the largest study of New Daily Persistent Headache to date was conducted, based on 56 patients from the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia. For me, the most interesting point from the study was that 82% of patients were able to pinpoint the exact day their headache started.

Given that I remember the exact date of the onset of the headache, and that the symptoms described above are also frightfully similar to what I have, this is certainly also another condition I need to look into. What I appear to be inflicted with is a mixture between Hemicrania Continua and NDPH.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Day 223 - Toxins

"We live in a world where we are surrounded by chemicals and toxins that affect our health and environment. Toxins can come in many forms such as smoke, biological agents, chemicals and radiation. Toxins are also produced by all the cells in the body.
Our bodies must be able to detoxify, or neutralize, toxins from the external environment as well as those produced within our own bodies. This process takes place mostly in the liver, and consists of two phases.

In Phase I toxins are activated, which means that they are altered in such a way that carrier molecules (Phase II) are able to transport them out of the body. A handy analogy is the bagging of our trash (Phase I), so that the garbage man can pick it up and cart it away (Phase II).

Phase I is accomplished by a family of enzymes called "cytochrome P450", and Phase II takes place via a number of important mechanisms. Both Phase I and Phase II of detoxification must function adequately so that toxins are able to be neutralized, and the two phases must be in balance with each other so that the activated compounds from Phase I cannot accumulate in the body and cause damage.”*

*Liver Test Result Factsheet

Since my reiki attunement on Wednesday I have been feeling a lot better. During the two weeks prior to the attunement, my headache was causing me much pain again, but since my session it seems to have decreased in intensity.

I finally managed to get detailed results of my liver test. It appears that Phase I is normal, and none of the Phase II pathways are underfunctioning. However, the test showed that some imbalance exists between the two phase pathways, therefore implying imbalanced detoxification in the body. The activated compounds coming out of Phase I are potentially toxic and may accumulate, leading to illness.

The nutritionist said that with nutritional support these kinds of imbalances are usually correctable. She advised continuing with the supplements the kinesiologist gave me, and also recommended looking at Porphyra-Zyme-1, which I will test with the kinesiologist at my next appointment on Monday. Having read up on this, I am not too clear as to why she suggested it given that it seems to be a homeopathic formula for metal detox...

The liver imbalance most definitely needs to be corrected, whether it is directly causing my headache or not.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Day 220 - Reiki I Attunement

“Being attuned to Reiki gives one the ability to easily access the Reiki (Universal Life Force) energy, for the purpose of healing a person or situation. Attunements can be given only by a Reiki master during an attunement process. This process opens the crown, heart, and palm chakras and creates a special link between the student and the Reiki source.

The attunement procedure is a ceremony of spirit. In this ceremony the Reiki master uses the Reiki symbols and other gestures in a prescribed way. This ceremony creates an energy pattern around the recipient of the attunement which entrains (or attunes) their energy field to the energies represented by the symbols.

The Reiki attunement can start a cleansing process that affects the physical body as well as the mind and emotions. Toxins that have been stored in the body may be released along with feelings and thought patterns that are no longer useful.”*


I had my reiki attunement today. I spent a whole day with Andy, Reiki master and now my Reiki coach, learning how to attune my energy field to do Reiki on myself - I now have healing hands!

The procedure is rather spiritual - incense and candles are lit, all mobile phones, computers and any other electrical appliances are turned off, thereby creating an atmosphere and aura of spirituality, and of complete peace.

During the attunement I could feel my hands warming, a tingling feeling taking hold of the very centre of my palms, as if I had placed my hand on top of a candle. I found this sensation more pronounced in my left hand than in my right.

Andy taught me how to use my newly acquired ability to heal myself, by showing me at which chakra points (the centres of spiritual power in the human body) to place my hands thereby enabling the life force energy to flow, thus restoring harmony and giving me a sense of well-being.

After an attunement there is a twenty-one day cleansing cycle that consists of three cycles of the seven chakras - practising Reiki every day during these three weeks helps remove the negativities accumulated by the body over our lifetime. Each chakra takes roughly three days, hence the 21 days.

My homework is to do Reiki for one hour every day for the next twenty-one days, after which I am told I will start to feel a lot more comfortable and at peace with my inner self.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Day 219 - Hemicrania Continua

“Hemicrania continua is a rare type of chronic daily headache where the pain occurs on one side of the head. Although the pain will vary in intensity, it never completely disappears and tends to be mild to moderate with occasional periods of intense pain.
The following diagnostic criteria are given for hemicrania continua; headache for more than 3 months fulfilling all of the following characteristics:

* Unilateral pain without side-shift
* Daily and continuous, without pain-free periods
* Moderate intensity, but with exacerbations of severe pain

The condition exists in two forms known as continuous and remitting. In the continuous form, headaches occur daily with little or no respite, often for years. In the remitting form, headaches may occur regularly over 1 to 6 months, separated by pain free periods of several weeks to months. Pain may occur as short jabbing jolts alongside the persistent daily headache. As with migraine headaches, there are more females than males with hemicrania continua.

The cause of hemicrania continua is unknown. When the symptoms of hemicrania continua are present, it's considered "diagnostic" if the patient responds completely to indomethacin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Triptans and other abortive medications do not affect hemicrania continua.”*


The kinesiologist sent me an email today asking me if I had read about hemicrania continua. I cannot believe that after all my research on the internet, and my various appointments with the ‘best neurologists in the UK’ I hadn’t even heard of it. How is it possible that no one has spoken to me about it? What are all these headache specialists doing with their time? Virtually none of the medical websites I looked at mention the condition - they just list cluster/chronic/ice-pick headaches and migraines with aura, and without aura (if it is mentioned, it is just en passant under the chronic headache category).

More despair and anger at doctors, their misdiagnosing, their ignorance on their ‘subjects of expertise’.

The symptoms described above could not be any more similar to mine. When trying to explain what my headache boils down to, I always highlight the fact that it is a constant 24/7 headache which has not left me once in seven months and which varies in intensity, according to its whim (to which I am usually asked: so do you have it now? At which point I wonder which part they didn’t understand: 24/7 or constant?). This is so far the most frustrating and (worryingly) the most recurring question I have been asked.

On top of the persistent right hand side headache, I sometimes feel jolts on top of the constant pain. I may not have hemicrania continua as far as I know. I just read about it and have yet to see someone who deals with this condition (my only doubt is that I do not think I have any of the following, which is a required autonomic feature during exacerbations: conjunctival injection and/or lacrimation, nasal congestion and/or rhinorrhea, or ptosis and/or miosis).

But what is most worrying is that no one even mentioned to me the possibility of having it. I stumbled across a study conducted in Italy on hemicrania continua which found that innumerable patients with the condition have been misdiagnosed:

According to the website, “on average, the patients had tried 3-4 different classes of drugs, most of which were, of course, ineffective. 36% had undergone ineffective invasive treatments as well!”* How worrying is this, I ask?


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Day 213 - Small Intestine

“The small intestine is around five metres long, making it the longest section of the digestive tract. Although it is longer than the large intestine it has a smaller diameter. This is why it's called the small intestine.

After food is churned up in the stomach, a sphincter muscle at the end of the stomach opens to squirt small amounts of food into the top of the small intestine. This first section of the small intestine is called the duodenum.

The pancreas releases digestive juices through a duct into your duodenum. This fluid is rich in enzymes that break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It also contains sodium bicarbonate which neutralises acid produced in your stomach. The gall bladder squeezes out bile down a duct into the duodenum. Bile helps break down fats in your food.

Most of the nutrients in food pass through the lining of the small intestine into the blood. The lining of the small intestine is covered in tiny microvilli. These are microscopic, finger-like protrusions which give the lining of the small intestine a massive surface area for absorption of nutrients to occur across.

Each microvillus contains a minute blood capillary. When nutrients are absorbed into a microvillus, they enter its blood capillary. This is how nutrients from the food enter the blood. By the time food leaves the small intestine all the nutrients in the food will have entered the bloodstream. All that remains is indigestible food which is passed from the small intestine to the large intestine for further processing.”*


“I just got back from a four day sun dance." “What’s a sun dance?” I asked inquisitively. “It’s when you dance for four days.. after that I was hung from a tree. I now have holes everywhere” he explained to me. “O-kay....” I said under my breath, rather puzzled. “It’s a ritual, it represents the continuity of life. I often go and live with tribes, I just got back from South America... to see and learn about their forms of natural healing”. This was the first slither of conversation I had with the acupuncturist before having needles stuck into my feet and hands.

I know acupuncture is not meant to hurt, although this time it really felt quite uncomfortable. Luck would also have it that half way through I had a really itchy leg but couldn’t move because of all the needles.

Anyhow, the good news is that the acupuncturist (also a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine) believes that my headache is related to the small intestine, the gallbladder and partly also the liver. He is now the third person (along with the kinesiologist and the nutritionist) who believes that the problem is internally related, and more specifically gut/liver related. The needles were placed in my gall bladder, liver and small intestine acupuncture points located in my hands and feet.

The doctor wanted to give me some Chinese herbs to detox, although I explained I am currently undergoing a programme with the kinesiologist and want to finish with that first. I am, however, keen on continuing with regular acupuncture sessions. Unfortunately though, he is only in the country once a month as the rest of his time is spent travelling and studying herbal remedies. It’s nice to see someone so interested in learning about alternative medicine, which no doubt reflects his knowledge on diagnosing health problems.

The acupuncturist also strongly recommending regularly doing some relaxation techniques in order to relieve the pain.

Day 212 - Dandelion Coffee (Taraxacum officinale)

“Dandelion is a common meadow herb of the Asteraceae or sunflower family, closely related to chicory. Its name is a corruption of the French "dents de lion", meaning "teeth of the lion." The generic name derives from the Greek words taraxos, meaning disorder, and akos, meaning remedy.
Dandelion leaves and roots have been used for centuries to treat liver, gall bladder, kidney, and joint problems. In some countries, Dandelion is considered a blood purifier and is used for ailments such as eczema and cancer.

Dandelion has also been used to treat poor digestion, water retention, and diseases of the liver such as hepatitis. It is a general stimulant to the system, especially to the urinary organs, and is primarily used in kidney and liver disorders.

The bitter compounds in the leaves and root help stimulate digestion and are mild laxatives. They also increase bile production in the gall bladder and bile flow from the liver. This makes Dandelion a great tonic for people with sluggish liver function due to alcohol abuse or poor diet.”*


Lately I have been indulging in dandelion coffee which tastes a lot nicer than it looks (the roasted coffee beans look like guinea pig food). On the nutritionist’s recommendation, I have been drinking various cups a day (it’s caffeine free), and have really taken a liking to it. Dandelion is meant to aid digestion and help the liver eliminate toxins.

I spoke to the nutritionist today and finally got my liver test results. Apparently my liver is not functioning to its full capacity - she suggested taking some supplements to rectify the problem. The majority are the same as those the kinesiologist has given me - it's reassuring to see that both the nutritionist and the kinesiologist share the same viewpoint.

In the meantime, I am waiting for the nutritionist to email me my results in more detail to see exactly where the problem lies.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Day 211 - Lipoic Acid

“Discovered in 1951, alpha lipoic acid is an important antioxidant that performs many functions in the body.

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a fatty acid that is naturally found inside every cell in the body. It is necessary to produce energy for the body’s everyday functions as it converts glucose into energy. ALA is also an antioxidant that works in both water and fat, unlike some other antioxidants.

It can also recycle antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up by the body. Glutathione is an important antioxidant and ALA increases the formation of glutathione. It also enhances the antioxidant functions of vitamins C and E.

ALA directly supports detoxification within the liver. It can prevent cell damage, regulate blood sugar levels, chelate toxic metals from the blood, and enhance mental function and muscular energy production.

Lipoic acid not only has dietary benefits, but can help people with vision issues, diabetes, chronic migraines, and many other health-related problems.”*


In the past two weeks the headache has been at its best so far. As a result, I have been feeling much happier and full of life - I can nearly bring myself to imagine what it would be like to finally not have a headache anymore.

Unfortunately though, I had a bit of a relapse over the weekend. Sunday was the worst - I tried to think back at what I had eaten or what I did differently in the past few days but once again I could not think of any contributing factors.

I went to see the kinesiologist again today. Having muscle tested me, he advised to keep on taking the same supplements, although this time he also gave me lipoic acid tablets.

He reinforced his conviction that there are problems with my gut, and this time more specifically with my small intestine. The liver as well does not seem to be functioning very well, and I am hopeful that the supplements will rectify this.

There has certainly (finally!) been a change lately - I just hope to be able to see more of it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Day 205 - Flower Remedies

“In the 1920s and 30s, a noted homeopath called Dr Edward Bach discovered a system of flower remedies that can help us rediscover the positive side of ourselves. He believed, as many doctors do today, that attitude of mind plays a vital role in maintaining health and recovering from illness.

When he died in 1936 he had developed a complete system of 38 flower remedies, each prepared from the flowers of wild plants, trees and bushes. They work by treating the individual rather than the disease or its symptoms.

The remedies contain a very small amount of flower material in a 50:50 solution of water and brandy. Because the remedies are extremely dilute they do not have a characteristic scent or taste of the plant.

The flower remedies are made from wild plants, trees and bushes. They work by treating the individual rather than the disease or its symptoms and are a gentle way to manage one’s emotions and rediscover the positive side of oneself.”*


The radionics practitioner suggested taking some flower remedies to help address and balance my emotional state, thereby contributing to my general well-being. She explained that flower remedies can remove the emotional barriers to health and recovery.

The remedy she recommended taking is made of a number of plants, including foxglove (pictured above), which is "calming to the emotions that emerge in relationship trauma: shock, grief, sense of loss, anger, confusion, anxiety, humiliation, rejection vulnerability - a heart protector to help us realise where our personal boundaries really lie."*

The first time I took the drops I had the impression of feeling more relaxed and at ease with those around me - I was in the park with my (much) younger siblings; the two of them were having a bit of an argument as seven and nine year olds tend to do. I summoned them over and explained what the flower remedies were for. I knew their innate curiosity would push them to discover more.

I placed a few drops on my tongue, and then on theirs. Thereafter, the three of us felt a lot more empathy towards one another and much enjoyed spending the rest of the day in each other’s company.

The ritual of halting previous activities and thereafter jointly taking the drops may well have also contributed towards our subsequent feelings of calm and serenity.

I am now taking the flower remedy drops four times a day.


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Day 199 - Crystals

“Crystals are natural formations formed in the earth and have been used since time began to heal and balance the human energy field. Long before modern medicine came to be, mankind was very familiar with the natural healing power of crystals. These were used to reduce swelling and kill infection. Some would calm ailments in certain organs while others energised. They were also natural painkillers.

Crystals are holistic healers, that is they work on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level of being. Today, we live in an environment that is full of electromagnetic smog. No home or place of work is free from the presence of numerous electrical appliances and for a lot of us, spending hours in front of a computer every day is the norm.

Every electrical appliance regardless of how high specification and environmentally friendly it is emits levels of radiation, which our bodies absorb. This electromagnetic smog wreaks havoc on our systems, disturbs the natural balance of our energy field and is the cause of much geopathic stress, which can cause illness and is even related to certain cancers.

Crystals help to protect us from this potential danger by absorbing the harmful rays. The simple act of putting a clear quartz or smoky quartz crystal on the desk between you and your computer could make a world of difference to your overall health.

Crystals can be used throughout the house balancing and harmonising the energy within, bringing a calming effect to all.”*

I am suddenly feeling surprisingly better. My headache was pretty bad last week but it now seems to have improved.

I decided to take a short holiday to try and forget about London, my headache, and to try and relax a bit. And it seems to have worked.

Whether the improvement is due to the fresh air and some time spent at the sea, or as a consequence of the radionics treatment, or indeed as a result of the supplements the kinesiologist has given me, I do not know.

The important thing to me is that it is improving. I have more energy and I now feel like getting up in the morning and enjoying the day ahead.

I am certainly feeling optimistic about my radionics treatment. This morning I spoke to the practitioner who thinks the pain could be related to my spine: she explained there may be tiny little fractures in my vertebrae, which she is now working on.

She also believes my headache may be related to harmful radiation emitted from computers and television screens. Come to think about, my previous job required me to sit in front of the computer for more than ten hours a day.

The practitioner also suggested buying a clear quartz crystal. She explained that crystals are good at detracting rays from PCs and TVs, which may contribute towards improving my headache.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Day 186 - Spine

“Also known as your backbone, your spine is a strong, flexible column of ring-like bones that runs from your skull to your pelvis. It holds your head and body upright and allows you to bend and twist your body. It also offers protection to your spinal cord - a large bundle of nerves that runs through the cavity in the centre of your spine that relays messages between your brain and the rest of your body.
Your spine is made up of 33 irregularly shaped bones called vertebrae. Each vertebra has a hole in the middle through which the spinal cord runs.

Sandwiched between your vertebrae are pads of tough, fibrous cartilage called intervertebral discs that cushion your vertebrae and absorb shock. These discs, together with the curved, S-shape of your spine, prevent shock to your head when you walk or run.

The joints between individual vertebrae aren't very flexible. But working together they give the spine a wide range of movement, allowing you to arch backwards, bend forwards and twist from side to side. During strenuous movement, strong ligaments and muscles around your vertebrae stabilise your spine and help to control movement.”*


The radionics practitioner called me today and told me that this morning she did some work on my spine. A strange thing to hear from someone I will never meet.

Since the practitioner started working on me a week ago, the headache seems worse. I don’t know if it is just a coincidence, as the pain always varies in intensity for no apparent reason. Having said that, as with other treatments, the symptoms usually get worse before getting better.

It’s just rather depressing as it seemed to be improving. Unfortunately, every time I think the situation is ameliorating, my hopes get crushed and I am again back at square one.

I find it unimaginably hard to describe the pain I feel - at its worst, the headache is an all encompassing pain which embraces the entirety of my head. It doesn’t thump per se, rather simply feels as if a gargantuan tree trunk had placed itself inside my head.

On a ‘normal’ day, it is more of a constant piercing pain in my right temple which, again, varies in intensity according to its whim. Once again, when inclined, it also manifests on the left hand side.

And thus my capricious headache still remains a mystery to all and sundry.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Day 182 - Reiki

“Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."

Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.

It is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.

An amazingly simple technique to learn, the ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class. This ability is passed on during an "attunement" given by a Reiki master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of "life force energy" to improve one's health and enhance the quality of life.”*


"I am a reiki master" - these words were spoken by a good friend’s boyfriend.

I asked him to immediately ‘do some reiki’ on me. Anything, just anything, to make the pain go away. Even just for five minutes.

I lay down and was asked to relax. I have always found it very hard to unwind - I am always tense, thoughts constantly toiling away in my head. I am incapable of only having one thought, let alone thinking about nothing at all, as yogis do.

I closed my eyes and tried to relax. After some mental fighting and internal oohs and aahs I eventually managed to relax a bit more and to suppress some thoughts.

It came slowly, but it came: a feeling of lightness, as if being transported towards the sky, nearly as if I were floating. The kind of feeling you imagine you will have when you die (if you believe life doesn’t entirely end with some ants nibbling at your toes).

I felt as if I was being elevated, raised from my body, the thoughts turned off, vanishing just like that - puff, puff, puff. They became dust. Finally, I managed to exterminate them, annihilate them in their entirety.

Andy put his hands on my shoulders. By doing so, he was telling me the session was over. I gently opened my eyes, the bright sunlight prompting me to blink repetitively; I longed already to return to that previous state of peacefulness.

Andy explained that a reiki treatment is the equivalent of having four hours sleep. No wonder I felt refreshed and relaxed. More importantly, during the treatment itself the severity of the headache diminished.

Andy has kindly offered to ‘attune’ me - all I need to do is spend a couple of days at my friend’s house in the countryside where I will learn to heal myself through reiki.