Sunday, 31 May 2009

Day 160 - Diet

“The word diet is often used to describe an eating plan intended to aid weight loss. However, diet really refers to the foods a person eats in the course of a day, or week.

The more balanced and nutritious the diet, the healthier the person can expect to be. A balanced diet means eating the right amount of foods from all food groups.

The benefits of a balanced diet are numerous. No single food contains everything the body needs so it is important to eat a wide variety.

The right amount of vitamins and nutrients can increase life expectancy by keeping the heart and body healthy, and preventing many long-term illnesses.”*


Today I had my second Bowen treatment.

I feel more relaxed after this morning’s session and the headache seems to be a bit better.

In terms of my new diet, I am struggling to come up with some dishes that do not contain any traces of wheat, yeast, dried fruit, sugar, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, chillis and all other nightshades.

In brief, I am starving.

And I am not too sure how healthy this can all be - at the moment I am certainly not maintaining a balanced diet.

I don’t think I can bear the sight of sweet potatoes, chicken, salad, spinach, goat’s cheese or eggs anymore.

Before starting my new regime, the headache had slightly improved - it was not as strong on a daily basis. The supplements the kinesiologist gave me must have been doing something. Or am I just accustomed to my headache, and nearly becoming immune to it?

Despite being open to all these new treatments, and doing my utmost to rid my body of the pain, I feel like the solution to it all is once again creeping further and further away.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Day 159 - Gut

“There has been a growing recognition of the intimate connection between gut and brain in recent years. The gut contains the highest concentration of nerve cells outside of the brain and for this reason has been referred to as the "second brain".
The gut also contains much higher concentrations of serotonin than the brain, even though this neurotransmitter chemical is most known for its effect on mood and brain function.

The gut's brain, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. Considered a single entity, it is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins that zap messages between neurons, support cells like those found m the brain proper and a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn, remember and, as the saying goes, produce gut feelings.

In fact, anyone who has ever felt butterflies in the stomach before giving a speech, a gut feeling that flies in the face of fact or a bout of intestinal urgency the night before an examination has experienced the actions of the dual nervous systems.

With this knowledge of the tight connection between gut and brain it starts to become apparent why sufferers of a number of diseases often experience many mood and neurological disorders.”*


I have been seeing the kinesiologist for a few months now, and very much trust his judgement and knowledge of the human body.

During our sessions, he has also examined my shoulder, which I have been unable to sleep on for over one year. In January doctors suggested a possible operation, but I knew that was not the right way forward.

The kinesiologist has successfully fixed my shoulder - not in its entirety, but it is causing me a lot less pain and aggravation than before. I am therefore feeling very hopeful that he will also be able to solve my perplexing headache.

It has crossed my mind that the headache may somehow be linked to my troublesome shoulder, but the muscle testing shows that the headache is due to an internal problem.

The kinesiologist believes the pain may well be associated, albeit not directly, with my gut.

He explained the close relation between the gut and the brain. Given that the former is home to the second highest amount of nerve cells outside of the brain, its functionality is vital to our well-being. The two brains are interconnected: when one gets upset, the other does too.

He has given me more supplements to detoxify and help cleanse my gut.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Day 154 - Alcohol

“Alcohol is a common term for ethanol, a compound produced when glucose is fermented by yeast. The alcohol content of a particular drink is controlled by the amount of yeast and length of fermentation.

Fruit is used to make wine and cider, while cereals such as barley and rye form the basis of beer and spirits.

Alcohol is a drug that has the immediate effect of altering mood. Drinking it makes people feel relaxed, happy and even euphoric, but in fact alcohol is a depressant. It switches off the part of the brain that controls judgement, leading to loss of inhibitions. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol can affect physical coordination.

The liver breaks down and eliminates alcohol from the body. It takes the liver about one hour to deal with one unit of alcohol (8g).”*


My teetotalism does not seem to be making much of a difference to my headache - on the contrary, when I drink it seems to get better. Maybe it’s because after a glass or two I am in good spirits and manage to temporarily avoid thinking about the pain.

Nonetheless, I am strictly off alcohol at the moment (and have been since January). I think I am even being overly cautious as I have been scrutinizing the menus in restaurants and carefully eliminating all dishes that have been cooked using white or red wine (along with all nightshade foods, wheat, yeast, dried fruit and sugar).

Despite the rigorous diet, teetotalism and supplement intake, there has not been much of an improvement on the headache front in the past few days.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Day 152 - Bowen Technique

“The Bowen Technique is a gentle, deeply relaxing, non-invasive physical therapy that frees the body to attain its natural balance and healing. Effective as a structural treatment for specific pain, Bowen therapy addresses the body as a whole. Its embrace often extends beyond the presenting symptom to the healing of underlying physical, chemical, emotional and mental causes of chronic illnesses.

In a Bowen Technique session, the therapist applies a carefully orchestrated series of gentle movements along the spine and at specific points throughout the body. These movements consist of a subtle rolling of muscle, nerve, tendon and connective tissue. The therapist leaves the room between each pattern in the series so as to allow the patient the maximum space for deep relaxation and integration of the information received.

It is the deeply relaxed state - both caused by and facilitating the impact of the specific soft tissue moves - that seems to act upon the body’s autonomic, or self-governing nervous system to enable it to achieve homeostasis at a cellular level and regain its own natural balance.”*


My stepmother told me about a friend of hers who is a Bowen Technique practitioner. She has kindly offered the first treatment free of charge.

I might as well give it a go (this phrase is creeping up frightfully too often).

The treatment involves small movements separated by approximately five to ten minute (sometimes longer) intervals, which aim to restore the flow and balance of the body.

Long, hot baths, sitting with your legs crossed and hot-water bottles (good thing it’s not winter) can all reverse the effects of the treatment, and thereby must be avoided after the session.

For some, the science behind Bowen may seem dubious. I myself, although a firm believer of alternative medicine and always open to new treatments, am a bit skeptical following today’s first session.

I struggle to comprehend how a few gentle movements (with what seem to be more intervals than ‘treatment’ itself) can rid my body of this malicious headache. If it is something internal, it needs to be fought from within.

Nonetheless, a few hours have passed since the first session and I have to admit I feel slightly better: the headache is always very much present but I am more relaxed and feel more at peace.

I know Bowen has worked wonders for many, and it may well prove to be a godsend to me too. I just need to get my head round it.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Day 143 - Nutritionist

“A nutritionist is concerned with the study of nutrients in food, how nutrients are used in the body, and the relationship between diet, health and disease.

What we eat is an important part of our being. Food provides us with the energy and vital nutrients necessary to remain healthy and help us should we become ill.

Most of us know that diet plays a role in our general health, but over the years it has also been shown that specific foods can enhance our chances of avoiding certain diseases, and help us cope better with some conditions.

Knowing which foods are responsible is the first step to ascertaining how to go about addressing the problem, though this can sometimes seem like a detective’s nightmare. Often the only way is to carry out an elimination diet, by excluding certain substances.”*


A few weeks ago there was an article in the paper about a nutrition consultant who had cured a boy the doctors had given up on. She bases her treatment on blood analysis and looks for deficiencies.

Today I went to see her.

The nutritionist examined my form. She tested me for vitamin deficiencies. She said that she was surprised about my headache, given my lack of symptoms (other than the headache of course) and vitamin deficiencies.

She believes my headache may well be related to my liver. She has suggested carrying out a detailed liver test in the next few days. The test will be delivered to me in the post.

She suggested taking some supplements - incidentally, these are the same as the ones the kinesiologist advised taking. It's reassuring to see that - finally - two different people advise doing the same thing. Maybe with the help of both of them I can solve the problem.

She advised eliminating wheat, yeast, sugar, dried fruit and alcohol from my diet.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Day 140 - Tomatoes

“Tomatoes were first brought to Europe from Mexico by Cortez and were first cultivated for food in Naples. The English regarded them as poisonous until the 1700s. They were introduced in America as an ornamental garden plant in 1808, but were not eaten as they were believed to cause stomach cancer and appendicitis.
The botanical name for tomatoes ‘Lycopersicon’ means ‘wolf peach’ and refers to the association between werewolves, witchcraft and nightshades.

Then, in 1820, Colonel Robert Johnson defied the advice of his physicians (”You will foam and froth at the mouth and double over”) and ate tomatoes on the steps of Salem Courthouse, New Jersey, in front of a crowd of 2000 witnesses, the local sheriff waiting to arrest him for suicide. He survived and people began slowly to accept tomatoes as food.

In the US and Northern Europe they really took off as food with the introduction of canning and canned soups and then rose again with the expansion of consumption of pizza and pasta in the past 30 years.

However, the chemical and energetic qualities of tomatoes (and other nightshades) produce extreme, expansive effects which can expand and weaken the bones, joints, teeth, gums, and all body organs, especially for those who are sensitive and allergic to them.

In a study published in the Journal of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, of the 5000 arthritis sufferers who eliminated Nightshade, seventy percent reported relief from aches, pains, and disfigurement.”*


Being half Italian, tomatoes are a requirement for most of my dishes. I have now had to exclude pasta al sugo from my diet and, very sadly, pizza.

I haven’t found it particularly difficult to give up nightshade foods for their taste per se, rather have been struggling with replacing my usual dishes with other equally tasty ones. I have, however, been introduced to a number of intriguing recipes and previously unexplored foods (such as sweet potatoes - see Day 136 - Potatoes).

Despite these minor complaints, I would do anything to make my headache go away, and if this involves simply giving up a few foods (which I have now discovered are very unhealthy anyway) then so be it.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Day 136 - Potatoes

“Traditionally potatoes were kept in paper sacks and sold unwashed. This practice protected them from direct sunlight. The modern practice of washing potatoes and packing them in plastic bags allows light to affect the potato and stimulate its production of solanine, the nightshade alkaloid that, in nature, sickens animals that might dig up potatoes for food.

The solanine in potatoes is 4 times greater in the skin than in the rest of the potato. The fatal dose of solanine for an adult is 200-250 mg depending on body weight. Potatoes should not contain more than 20 mg of solanine per 100g, so it would take at least 1 Kg of potatoes (2.2 lbs) to be fatal. Potato peels have been found to contain up to 180 mg of solanine per 100g, so a person consuming 150-200g of deep fried potato peels with a high solanine content could be at considerable risk.

Interestingly, in one study conducted with hamsters who were fed the sprouted portions of potatoes, increased alkaloid content did not seem to impact the nerves or joints nearly as much as the digestive system itself.

The researchers focused on damage to the stomach and intestines when trying to understand the problems caused by ingestion of potato sprout material, and concluded that there were reasons to avoid this material based on digestive system evidence alone.

A bitter taste in potatoes after the potatoes have been cooked is usually a good indication that excessive amounts of alkaloids are present.”*


I got my MRI brain scan results: all clear. I am somewhat relieved, although still worried as no one seems to know what is causing the headache.

In the meantime, I have been avoiding potatoes, as well as other nightshades (see Day 124 - Nightshade Foods), avec rigeur for the past few days, and have thereby completely eliminated my intake of alkaloids (any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds of plant origin that have pronounced physiological actions on humans*).

I have replaced my normal intake of potatoes with sweet potatoes, which are not classified as nightshade foods, rather fall under the “morning glory” category.

I have thus discovered the huge health benefits associated with sweet potatoes. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest ranks sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables.

Despite the change of diet, the unfathomable headache is still present. On Saturday night I had a really strong attack. I couldn’t sleep all night. I thought my head was going to explode. It pounded on both sides, with an indescribable intensity that I genuinely thought it was going to burst.

I had to sit up in bed to try and alleviate the pain a bit (it slightly diminishes when sitting upright or standing).

As I now know, no painkillers make the pain subside. The only form of consolation was to give vent to the pain and vexation burning inside me through wretched tears.

*Apple dictionary definition