Body Care – The Modern World, Chemicals, Diet and Choice

I think that many of us want to take care of our bodies and hope our bodies will care of us. When I look at statistics on obesity, autoimmune diseases, cancers and mental health conditions from the WHO I consider that we are struggling to accomplish a good standard of self-care and disease prevention. Staying up to date with research, news and data creates an optimism in me that Western medicine is discovering that out environment both internally and externally impacts on our health, but maybe it will take a little while for these ideas to become the norm. I I am interested in functional medicine holistic approaches to understanding the body and these are the ideas that I seek to explore in my research and practise.

Making healthy choices and taking care of a body is no short cut to a life free of illness.  One could choose to eat only organic vegetables, exercise every day and supplement diet with vitamins and minerals, turn off all EMF emitting devices at night and such healthy choices could still result in chronic illness. However, the aim of healthy choices is I hope to feel great? If you feel well, if you’re enjoying life, if your stress levels are low and your body is functioning at its optimum capacity then not only is it likely you will feel happier than ever on a day to day basis also, you are likely to recover faster and more effectively if you do get ill. Being happy has been sociologically proven to be triggered by our emotional responses to our daily lives more so than the social benchmarks such as: pay rises, house purchases and newborns (Interested in this? For further reading check out ‘The Myth of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky.)

Encouraging evidence of a holistic approach to health I find in the NHS’s adoption of social prescribing by and the attendance at this year’s conference on ‘Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice’ held by The Institute of Functional Medicine seeing a record number of GP’s in attendance. Interesting discussions are taking place over how anatomy is taught and understood; hand surgeon Jean-Claude Guimberteau has challenged the beliefs that our body is a sum of parts that can be identified individually and cut apart. Professor of Anatomy Carla Stecco is continuing this work on fascia and her faculty teaches students how fascia is found throughout the body and it has been overlooked and misunderstood for many years and this could help in the understanding of complicated chronic illness such as Chronic Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

Staying informed on Medical Research and as a Massage Therapist with a degree in Global Politics and a C in science GCSE sometimes leads me to think I’m not qualified enough, my mind is so often boggled by the lectures, articles and data that I have set my eyes and ears to. Despite this i persevere by discerning the language of journal articles on nutrition and I do understand a great deal even if it isn’t the lab report! Importantly, every one of us is a host for a mind-blowing number of bacteria and our immune systems acts with the power of the world wide web yet with great efficiency, analyzing and responding to every-thing that we put into it by choice or by accident. Everything we come into contact with is processed and responded to on a conscious or unconscious level. We are quick to identify gone off milk but how are we responding to air pollution in London at dangerously high levels, soil deficient in nutrients because of giant agro-farming practices and Smart Meters emitting dangerously high EMF waves? Are many of us responding at all? Certainly, on a state and industrial level we are ignoring these issues. How about cleaning products? Products that show pictures of dead fish on the label, which mean in no unclear terms that these chemicals kill wildlife wash our kitchen surfaces and leave our laundry smelling fresh. If you start to do your own investigations and explore research papers on the impact of long term exposure to parabens and chemical fertilizer, EMF and the long list of other poisonous chemicals or radiations waves that are only present in ‘minute’ amounts in the products we use daily you might start to take stock of your consumer choices. The saying that all the pennies make a pound can be applied by the same logic to those ‘mirco’ amounts of toxic chemicals in the products you use on your body.

A recent study from Michigan University shows that withdrawal from Junk Food (pastries, chips, pizza) has the same impact on the brain as withdrawal from tobacco, alcohol and drugs. These symptoms include: sadness, irritability, tiredness and cravings. Many people run their bodies on this kind of dirty fuel. These technologies and foods are around us all the time and although it seems dramatic to say we are in immediate danger the balance or the natural and the artificial is tipping in the wrong direction with negative consequence for the health of humans, animals and the planet. With the added stresses of modern daily life which many of us consider normal then how can we expect to keep up resilience and keep processing and eliminating these toxins?

Governments and industry share interests in opening-up new markets, creating jobs, boosting economies through spending, demonstrating progress and this cannot always be trusted to be in the national interest. Something as obviously toxic as 5G is in the wings for implementation across the UK while the move to electric cars for 2020 will solve London’s dirty air. Other juxtapositions: McDonalds sponsors the Olympics along with Cadburys, Waitrose promotes itself as supporting British farmers, the ethical supermarket yet uses palm oil in its products. I wrote to them asking them why they continue to use a product whose production is devastating rainforests, displacing both animals and people. Their reply: “We're absolutely committed to sourcing ingredients in the most ethical way possible. When it comes to palm oil, we use 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). This has been the case since the end of 2012. This is an industry-leading target which ensures the palm oil used in our food is not contributing to the destruction of orangutan habitats.” Sadly research conducted by Queensland University Australia has shown that RSPO certified plantations perform no better on sustainability targets than unregistered plantations. Lets have a reality check – this is a marketing manoeuvre. A company like Johnson and Johnson might have been selling a popular product for years and then new research suggests its ingredients cause cancer and then the company appeals and has the verdict overturned many times and a lot of money is paid out. It is a surprise we aren’t all angry. Why is it money can close these issues down? Is it all that we are too busy to pay any attention? Or that regulators are not providing guidelines and checks to hold industry accountable?

Lucky for us we have choice in our lives and do not have to rely on poor regulation. You have a choice on how to spend your money, how to treat your body and there are ways and means to uncover how the products you use are being sourced. I’ll coin the tag line from one of the world’s leading cosmetic brands, ‘You’re worth it!’ The initial steps of the self-care/ planet care ladder are likely to feel uncomfortable, invisible, confusing and lonely. If you’re changing your diet you’ll experience withdrawal, mood swings and a fight with that voice in your head telling you ‘what is the point?’ and ‘oh just give up’. However, if you have the patience and kindness to treat your body like your most prized possession you could truly feel proud, fall in love with and value your real home – your body. Creating new patterns takes time and many of us have been running the same patterns for years and so the forces around us continue to profit. I won’t start here on the drug companies however, I am currently reading ‘Bad Pharma’ by Ben Goldacre. No doubt a blog coming soon! I am writing to challenge everyone to run a new pattern, a pattern of self-love and planetary love with the support and care from those around you who are doing the same. Kind decisions can extend our lives, improve the quality of it and if more people cared for the bodies perhaps we could extend this to the planet. We could really all stop using plastic if we just prepared ourselves a little more thoroughly, and no new plastic bags would need to be produced.

I’m passionate about nutrition. Nine years ago I suffered a chronic bout of psoriasis from my neck to my toes that appeared from no-where and refused to disappear until I decided to seek nutritional help and embark on a journey of wellness as my GP was telling me this was set in for life. It was a flat out stress response from my body and I did not realise at the time but, looking back I see it as a fortunate wake up call. I learned to take responsibility for my body and also I learned about self care and consideration and kindness. I was advised and supported by a nutritionist and the goal posts changed as we worked out how to respond to my unhappy and ill body. I am fortunate to have had the support and determination to get healthy, my skin now glows and treats me well. Save for dry elbows you would never know I had any problems with my skin.

I am happy not to be a nutritional therapist! I am fascinated by the world of nutrition and believe whole-heartedly that our diet governs our whole selves. These professionals have a huge job on their hands helping people adapt their eating patterns. Food is a social and emotional component in our lives and is not easy to guide people to new eating habits or ask someone to deny themselves of the sweet treats we fall back to for comfort. Remember how I spoke about addiction to Junk Food? The conclusion of this study was that making dietary changes is as challenging as giving up smoking or alcohol. Also, its true that you just aren’t going to enjoy the new foods at first. When you give up sugar you’re never full, you’re always thinking about something sweet while your mouth salivates and you just have to say no! A detox from anything that you are used to and you love is going to be a struggle. Because the brain likes what it knows and knows what it likes however, the second one isn’t always true, perhaps it is that it doesn’t know another way and it will just get used to it!

It’s a true test.

In the name of health, support and making changes I have teamed up with a good friend and nutritionist Beth Frances to offer all my clients a 10% discount on their first nutritional therapy appointment. With a kind ear for listening a sharp mind for seeing patterns and a love for health and nutrition Beth can offer you support and guidance while you’re attaining your personal health goals. Thinking of making a change? I dare you to give it a go and be open. Meanwhile, make kind decisions for both the planet and your body. There is just one of both. Caring for the planet might seem tedious and confront you with a whole new set of decisions and challenges and perhaps mockery from friends. Consider you lived in the rainforest that you saw being torn down closer and closer to your home and perhaps we would all think more seriously about the products and companies that we choose to support. Life is complicated enough I realise and we can’t all be perfect however being aware of what is going on around us is a strong start to seeing a change and empathising with those dedicating all there time and energy to saving the plant.



Resources/Reference/Further Reading: - Beth’s Website

World Health Organisation Online:

Lyubomirsky. S (2013) The Happiness Myths. Penguin London,

Martin. S (2018) Functional Medicine Breakthrough? IHCAN Magazine

Barnes. T (2018) Johnsen & Johnsen Ordered to Pay Record $4.7 Billion Damages over Cancer Talc Lawsuit available at:

Schulte. E, Smeal. J.K, Lewis. J, Gearhardt. A.N (Dec.2018) Development of the Highly Processed Food Withdrawal Scale, Elsevier Vol. 131 Pages 148-154
Accessed at:

DW Documentary (2018) The Mysterious World Under The Skin. Available at:

Guimberteau. J-C (2016) The Architecture of Living Tissue, The Liberated Body Podcast 059

More on RSPO

So What About Sleep?

Sleep is an essential part of our bodily function but largely the details of the process remain a mystery to science. What we do know is that sleep is necessary for rejuvenation and repair at cellular level and curiously sleep is where we ‘solidify and consolidate our memories’. The brain having time to process all the information it has absorbed throughout our day, while tissues are repairing, hormones are synthesizing and the functions of the parasympathetic nervous system come into play. Thank goodness the body has this time to concentrate fully on all these mammoth tasks at hand without the interruption of the thousands of exciting stimuli we are exposed to every day!


The hormone Melatonin is produced in your brain by the pineal gland and it is responsible for our drop in activity and want for rest. Typically around 9pm melatonin levels rise in the body and we feel less alert. During the daytime those levels of melatonin in the body are only just traceable. Melatonin is necessary for sleep. [1]


There has been talk by the UK sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski of ‘Junk Sleep’ an expression used to detail sleep that is preluded by the use of entertainment gadgets such as smartphones, televisions and tablets. The use of such devices in the bedroom, before sleep is scientifically proven to interfere with not only the production of Melatonin and in turn our bodies body clock. The result is simply poor quality of sleep. Television is less likely to have such an effect but is still considered by experts a poor prelude to our bedtime. The statistics? Well taken from research conducted by The Sleep Council from a sample of 5004 participants 39% of those who watch television in bed sleep very poorly most nights, as do 16% of those who check their emails before going to sleep.[2]

So what is a better alternative? The most popular pre-sleep activity for this sample group is book reading with 41% of people reporting this as their nightly routine. Of nightly routine, if we have trouble sleeping one of the best ways in which we can get on course is to adhere to a regular bedtime. The Sleep council have examined bedtimes and found that the most popular time to go to bed is between 10pm-11pm. Women tend to go to bed earlier than men, couples on average tend to go to bed earlier than singles and income levels also impact on bedtime; those who earn less than £15,000 a year are likely to hit the hey after midnight along with those who are unemployed.

The relationship between earnings and sleep is an interesting one, The Sleep Council found that those on higher incomes report better sleep; “with more than a third (34%) of those earning £65,000-£75,000 sleep very well, while 10% of those earning less than £15,000 sleep very poorly. In addition, 8% of those who don’t work sleep very poorly most nights”[3]

Could this be linked to stress? Well that is what seems obvious as the factors that tend to keep us awake at night include: stress and worry, partners in the bed, illness and children. [4]

“With Britain in the grip of serious economic downturn, it is little wonder than many of us are too anxious to sleep. Government cuts and widespread redundancies have affected many families and almost half of Britons now say that stress or worry keeps them awake at night (47%)”[5]

I will leave you with a link to The Sleep Council’s Research as there is great deal of interesting information to be read and the reading of this report has been the basis of my article. If you are one of those who suffer with poor sleep there is in fact many things that you can do in order to help get a good night’s rest. Interestingly our sleeping environment is often overlooked with only 1 in 10 people believing room temperature could have an impact on sleep quality and a mere 8% believing that clearing clutter could also be a valuable consideration.[6]

What The Sleep Council haven’t explored but the International Journal of Neuroscience did explore is that massage has a positive impact on sleep and serotonin levels (serotonin being intrinsic to the production of melatonin). [7]

In addition The National Institute of Health has also advised that massage can ‘reduce fatigue and improve sleep’.[8]

Good quality sleep is crucial to our wellbeing. Our energy levels govern our mood, our ability to make decisions and even how salubrious these decisions are. Poor sleep and poor energy levels may in fact encourage poor diet 5 and reduce our reaction times. Can you improve your quality of sleep? Do you feel that you sleep enough? What do you do before bed and what are your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning? These are all important considerations for not just a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. A dear friend of mine ensures that every night and every morning, without fail they give thanks and gratitude for what the day has given to them and asks for guidance throughout their day; to stay safe, to choose the best path and so enjoy their self and be kindest to others around them. How do you start your day?

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning some facts on sleep and taken from this a moment to consider some of your patterns and lifestyle habits. I am always biased, but if you haven’t had a massage or in fact not treated your mind and body to some well deserved relaxation perhaps it is time to make a change. 

Finally a really important point that I didn’t pick out from The Great British Bedtime Report is that those who exercise report better levels of sleep than those who don’t. So keep moving everybody! Exercise is undeniably great for our overall health but so too is sleep! Remember to look after your body as it is constantly working to look after you.











[1] Available at: (Accessed 28.04.18)

[2] The Sleep Council (2013) The Great British Bedtime Report. Available at: (Accessed 28.04.2018)

[3] The Great British Sleep Report p8

[4] The Great British Sleep Report p 12

[5] The Great British Sleep Report p 12

[6] The Great British Sleep Report p 25 & 26

[7] 3. Cutler N; Insomnia, Serotonin and Massage; Institute for Integrative Healthcare; August 19, 2005;

[8] Krible.K: Massage Therapy for a better Night’s Sleep; May 23, 2014 in Sleep Review Magazine; Available at: (Accessed on 28.04.18)

Health in our Hands

Health and wellness is estimated to be a $3 trillion dollar market and growing (excuse the use of American statistics) and the UK is rated as 9 out of the world’s top 10 growing markets. 
This indicates that something is happening in the global consciousness; there’s an understanding that our health is valuable and worth investing in.  
Many market interests in health and wellbeing lean toward looking ‘good’ – slim, swishing sleek hair, glossy nails and the like. The narrow margins that depict body image from the mainstream media offer to us a monosyllabic and uninteresting model designed to help us buy. No one made money from telling people that they are perfect as they are.

However, there is a point to be made here – glossy hair and good nails will come with good nutrition and perhaps that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than endless bottles of products, and who doesn’t want to feel and look good?  
We don’t all aspire to the same ideal when it comes to the aesthetic of the body, but where we do all find ourselves united is a wish for good health.  I recently watched a TED talk that illustrated our commonalities as humans when we escape divisions of class, age, ethnicity and gender. What we really all want is good health, friendship and prosperity.
So the time is ripe, with billions of us investing in our heath and well-being; I believe like many others that our health is in our own hands. 
Of course I do not suggest that where there’s illness there’s blame. I mean that we have the choice to decide how we nourish our bodies and our minds to maintain our health without becoming obsessive of course and always remembering life is to be enjoyed.
A recent visit to Thailand introduced me to many devote Buddhists and Taoists whose relationship to the natural world and cycles of the body inspired me greatly. Everything in life was to be understood by balance and harmony, which makes sense when we know scientifically that the body is continually in motion to find homeostasis.
Our massage teacher taught us that the body and the mind need to be balanced and in sweet communication with one another because the danger that comes from internal conflict both emotional and physical is illness. Why?
Where there’s stress there is poor health because of overworked immune systems and bodies in fight mode and this is why we get ill! 
It can and has been argued that we’re addicted to our ‘doing’ lifestyles and that the commodification of time is having negative consequences for us all.  We sleep on average less hours than we used to; a staggering 47% of Britons say that stress keeps them awake at night and The Sleep Council’s research tells us that only 21% of 45-54 year olds report that they sleep well. 
Sleep is when we rejuvenate and replenish our bodies. Good sleep is essential for good health!
Do we know how to relax? Do we even give ourselves permission to relax? For too many people relaxing is sitting down in front of the television. 
When we look at the effect on the brain this really isn’t relaxing at all.  In fact it a stimulation that only increases our metabolic production of the steroid cortisol, high levels of which can increase anxiety and depression and have other negative metabolic effects.  Not to say don’t enjoy a good box set or game show, just to say this isn’t really ‘switching off’.
All of this research is available, but are we paying attention?  I write this to urge everyone to listen and think; we are all different humans with different needs, desires and passions but we all need rest and good health. 
Do you take time to make kind decisions for your body? Do you exercise? Have you got a high quantity of processed foods in your diet? Do you make time to cook? Do you ever practise stillness?
You might not be able to go out and get a massage, but if you can have you ever? If you can’t ask a friend or partner who might just be able to squeeze your shoulders. Do you give and receive hugs? In the lexicon of meditation and the yogic tradition you will hear the words ‘inner smile’. Can you love yourself and your body and offer to yourself happiness.


Can you gift yourself free time, a hobby, a moment to breath or space?

The Meaning of Wellness

First let us look at the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of wellness - ' The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.' and a healthcare system focused on wellness, not sickness’. Next a definition of health: 'The state of being free from illness or injury' and 'A person's mental or physical condition.'

So often we simplify our understanding of health and define it by its antithesis, to be ill. So, if we aren't 'ill' that makes us 'well'. I recently read an article that looks beyond this idea  and broadens the approach we can take towards our 'well-being', hopefully helping us to consider the choices we make and why we make them:

'Wellness is not about whether a person has a disease. It is about the internal experiences of their bodies and the ability to make constructive choices, based on their abilities to enjoy life and be well.

Wellness is that state of concern in which you are relatively invincible, nothing can ruin your day, you feel alive, vital and confident and experience a high state of well-being.' *

Understanding wellness in this perspective can open up questions about our daily lives; do we make decisions that best suit us, or are the kindest options for us? Do we choose the paths of least resistance because ease is preferable to challenge? Where is the balance in our lives? Are we satisfied by the choices that we make and do we feel assured that these choices best contribute to our individual and also the well-being of others? Hopefully, we mostly feel great, satisfied and content; grateful to ourselves for making this our regular experience.

I write this without an intention of offering answers, everyone of us will have a different set of requirements, my intention is to encourage everyone to value their bodies and minds and feel to well. You deserve to feel great most of the time, and be confident in the knowledge that it is down to the choices that you make!

Remember to give yourself space to reason and evaluate. A massage might be something that sustains personal wellness acting as a gift to the body and mind. 

Massage relaxes the central nervous system and as a result can change the hormones released in your body. Studies show that after a massage the levels of dopamine and serotonin present in the body increase, while cortisol levels decrease.*1 Our bodies operate on feedback loops and they seek experiences and products that give us releases of dopamine and serotonin but unfortunately the mind isn't always aware of the side effects. So where that sugary snack, or cigarette might reward us with that same chemical change, our body then has to work hard to detoxify. If only our minds were able to see the bigger picture! Maybe don't wait until you feel unwell to seek out remedies. Take the choice to look after yourself daily and make healthy choices. I promise you will feel good! 

Be kind. Be aware. Be well, treat yourself to the good things in life and be responsible for your own well-being. What does it mean to you? 

* Author unknown

*1 Field T1, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C.'Cortisol Decreased and Serotonin and dopamine Increase Following Massage Therapy' International Journal of Neuroscience  2005 Oct;115(10):1397-413.

The Skin You're In.

When you think about your skin, what thoughts come to mind?

Do you think about its functions, its practical purposes? Do you consider your skin as an organ? I wonder, do you think about it at all?

Too often we think about blemishes, or spots, imperfections and perhaps wishe that we had a tan. Sometimes we think about the elasticity of our skin and wish it wasn’t marked or wrinkled. We are too often led into thought processes about our skin’s dysfunctions and impurities.  That’s because we usually hear about the skin from companies who make products for it, and they tend to want to help us improve it, and so we buy their products and enjoy them, and so we should, because who doesn’t want to feel fantastic and glow all over, not to mention feel silky smooth! 


I’d like to tell you about your skin and all the brilliant functions it performs for your body in the hope to give your skin some credit and recognition it deserves from the perspective of a massage therapists and a body appreciator! 

We often don’t think about the skin as an organ, but it is actually the largest one of the body contributing to around 20% of our overall weight. 

What does it do then? Apart from break out in spots, or look sallow, or go saggy? Firstly, our skin is our outer most casing, so that makes it the first line of defence and response for the body; glands in our skin create natural moisturiser that protects against bacteria. Not only that but also the ph balance (the acidity) of our skin also determines the ability of bacteria to survive on it.

The billions of nerve endings nestled within allow our brains to discern hot from cold, thick from thin and rough from smooth. So, it teaches us, or allows us discern a huge amount of useful information about our surrounding environment. 

Our skin creates water resistance and it is responsible for regulating our bodies’ temperatures and its metabolism of water and salt. Think about goose bumps - did you know that technically each hair follicle has a tiny muscle that lies beneath the skin’s surface and it is responsible for lifting up the hairs on your skin to help trap in heat.

Finally, lets not forget the all important Vitamin D. Essential for our bodies – it has been a hot topic in the news of late, discussions to put into milk because we are so deficient in it. Well when the sun does shine and you are outside, it’s your skin that absorbs the sun and so starts the process of creating vitamin D.

Relax, rejuevnate & revive

Massage is a time to relax and release stress.  A time to rest.

A time to rejuvenate ­– and awake feeling treated and fresh.  Our bodies have to bear a lot of emotional and physical weight that massage can help melt away.

An opportunity to revive. We usually think about reviving the body and mind out of a state of unconsciousness.  Massage often takes us into semi-conscious tranquillity. Afterwards we find ourselves eased back to full consciousness, our senses revived and refocussed.

This place of stillness and quiet exists through massage. Our bodies possess a powerful central computer –­ the Central Nervous System.  It processes billions of signals twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year!


Massage engages the parasympathetic nervous system, or ‘resting system’. This is the 'mode' in which we operate during relaxed states. The effects?  The heart rate decelerates, digestive processes operate effectively as the circulation to internal organs is increased, blood pressure is lowered and breathing slows, allowing for improved absorption of oxygen. The body is given the opportunity to revive and restore itself. New cells are generated and we rejuvenate. 

Love your body. Take time. Relax. Rejuvenate. Revive. 


Compassion & kindness

There can be a lot of pressure at the start of the New Year....

There can be pressure to be resolute. Pressure to be a 'new you' to find 'the best of yourself' and so, we find ourselves imposing rigorous controls and expectations that can lead us to feel disappointment.

Remember to focus on your strengths and consider the things that you wouldn't want to change. Think about your strengths, consider what your friends love about you and why you love you! 

Enjoy your body, be kind and follow actions that have nourishing intentions. 

Happy New Year!