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Posts from the ‘Bodycare’ Category


Really Inspirational Father’s Day Gifts

Why not plant a tree with dad?

Why not plant a tree with dad?

Most people seem to agree that finding the perfect gift for their dad is one of the least easy tasks of the year. Here are some ideas from our thoughtful team to inspire you:

Wine holiday in Oporto Built into the hillside of the spectacular Duoro Valley, The Yeatman hotel in Oporto is inspired by the celebrated wines of the region. Guests can seriously indulge themselves during the weekly wine evenings, tasting soirees and cookery courses. The extensive wine cellars hold 25,000 bottles alone and the in-house Michelin starred chef, Ricardo Costsa, is always on-hand to educate guests about food pairing. Even The Yeatman’s vinotherapy spa will be difficult for Dads to resist, as it offers a Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Bath or body scrub. Prices from €150 per night.

Failing that why not a bottle of Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2005, available from £13.79 at most retail outlets nationwide. Here is a link to information on the website

Or he might have loads of the stuff in the cupboard but may not have some luscious glasses to savour it – we would choose the beautiful Riedel Port Glasses available at John Lewis and Amazon.

Reidel port glasses

Reidel port glasses

How about a short holiday break for someone mad on fishing? Forget Salmon Fishing in the Yemen although a couple of tickets might go down a treat! – how about Fly fishing in the Maldives  All hard-working fathers deserve peace and quiet once in a while, and you would be hard pressed to find a more relaxing and tranquil outdoor pursuit than fly-fishing. On a secluded private island in North Maldives, Island Hideaway resort boasts deepwater channels and expansive shallow flats, ideal for whiling away the hours until that longed-for catch comes along. Prices from £1350 per week during low season, and £2300 during high season. OK, so that might be a bit over the top! How about The Ultimate Guide Book to Fishing? This Google page might give ideas.

Right, nothing so far appeals? What about a luxury wet shave? Harking back to simpler times when every man had a trusty barber to see to his beard and whiskers, in London the Spa at Dolphin Square offers chaps the rare chance to pamper themselves with a range of traditional Moroccan wet shaves. Choose from the age-old Savon Noir shave, which  cleanses by combining crushed olives, olive oil and Eucalyptus (£35), or go all out with a Moroccan Cleansing Ritual, incorporating a Hammam and Shea Butter Massage, followed by the relaxing shave (£104). This would appeal to many men I know so it could be a winner!

Dolphin Square Spa

Dolphin Square Spa

On a more basic level though why not a gift voucher from B&Q? Lots of us like browsing in DIY stores, especially new and improved gadgets!

 Or why not some Ogilvy’s honey – their Balkan Linden Honey is rather special. Gathered from colonies in the Danube region of Serbia. This honey was one of four varieties of Ogilvy’s Honey to win gold stars in the 2011 Great Taste Awards organised by The Guild of Fine Food. It is rather special – you can find more information on the Ogilvy’s website.

If you live in or near London then of course you could take him for a meal – Ping Pong in Soho is excellent, The Sanderson in Berners St  has a wonderful dining area as has the Lanesborough Hotel opposite Hyde Park Corner.  What about some tickets to a game at The Arsenal? A visit to the House of Commons to see Parliament in action and a meal in one of the boats on the river. Or a boat trip on the Thames? Of course you could just go for a walk in Hyde Park and have something to eat in one of the many cafes in the park.

The Arsenal

The Arsenal

Or how about an App for his iPhone or iPad – he doesn’t have one? There’s two more ideas!

Hope you might find one of these inspiring! Good luck – you have just three days left!

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Beware Dr Google – The dangers of self diagnosis on the web

© Pintail Media

© Pintail Media

One in four British women has misdiagnosed themselves on the internet – then bought the wrong product in an attempt to cure themselves, a study revealed yesterday.

Researchers found Dr Google is now the first port of call for women with genuine health concerns who are almost twice as likely to check online before consulting a doctor or even talking to Mum. A trend towards trusting the internet over friends, family and medical professionals meant half of the 1,000 women studied would first try to treat an ailment themselves rather than risk embarrassment. But searching their symptoms online and self-medicating has led a tenth of the country’s women to endure unpleasant side effects as a result of their misdiagnosis.

The research, which was commissioned by feminine health brand Balanceactiv found a quarter of British women will trust the internet for advice on treatments if they find their symptoms embarrassing.

Penny McCormick, spokeswoman forBalance Activ said yesterday: ”There is an increasing trend towards using the internet to diagnose any irregularities or worries we have about our bodies.

”The web gives us a wealth of information that can be useful in reducing our worries until we’re able to gain proper advice from a medical authority if it’s needed, but the results show how easy it is to make mistakes when diagnosing ourselves.

”It’s important we learn which information to trust online and that we’re able to make the distinction between what can be self-diagnosed and easily treated, and what definitely requires the help of a medical professional.

“What can seem like a relatively harmless but embarrassing symptom could develop into something more serious so it is important for women to ensure they are asking the right questions and treating certain conditions effectively in the first instance.”

Carving on 15th century font  © Pintail Media

Carving on 15th century font © Pintail Media

The study was carried out to mark National BV Day on 18th April – which aims to raise awareness of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – a condition that is almost twice as prevalent as thrush that 2 out of 3 women are misdiagnosing. If left untreated BV has been linked to some serious health implications including an increased risk in contracting STIs, infertility and miscarriage if present during pregnancy. The report also found despite having diagnosed themselves online and decided on a high street treatment, 45 per cent never check they are buying the right thing with a pharmacist or counter staff.

The agonising wait for answers is what drives thirty per cent of women to look for help online, while one in ten hesitate to tell friends or family of any health problems because they don’t want the issue to be ‘made into a fuss’. Tellingly, three quarters of the 1,000 women said there are certain health issues they aren’t comfortable talking to friends and family about. Indeed, women are more likely to trust their own diagnosis when embarrassed by their symptoms – half of the study would always try to deal with the problem themselves before seeking help from others. Over a quarter of respondents dread talking to doctors about anything they are embarrassed about.

Most women had spent a few days worrying over symptoms before speaking to anyone, while a worry-stricken third of the sample had endured at least two weeks sweating over an ailment. Remarkably, one in twenty women said they had spent a number of years worrying a particular symptom was something serious before eventually getting it checked out. Because of waiting times, thirty per cent only visit the doctor as a last resort, while half of the women studied said they would always try all they can to cure themselves and only seek medical advice if the problem didn’t go away.

The symptoms most likely to prompt women to diagnose themselves are problems sleeping, headaches and depression, while muscle pain, itching and fatigue regularly cause women to consult Dr Google. A fifth of women had at some time suspected they had a serious disease – the most common false alarm came over breast cancer, while many women had wrongly diagnosed themselves as having thrush, high blood pressure or asthma.

Skating along Eastbourne promenade © Pintail Media

Skating along Eastbourne promenade © Pintail Media

Penny McCormick, spokeswoman for Balance Activ, continued: “With the resource the internet provides us, it makes sense that women now see this as the first place to consult, especially as they can do so in private.

“However women choose to get advice about their health, being embarrassed by symptoms should never lead to them making a quick or unsupported diagnosis on their own unless they are certain of the quality of the information.

“Worrying symptoms or anything relating to our intimate areas naturally makes it harder to deal with and often leads women to rush to a diagnosis or avoid the issue completely.

“Leaving symptoms untreated, particularly with BV, can lead to serious health implications including an increased risk in contracting STIs, infertility and miscarriage if present during pregnancy.

“That is why we have launched an online symptom checker so women with any health concerns relating to their intimate areas can diagnose themselves accurately to help treat it right.”



1.            Breast cancer
2.            Other forms of cancer
3.            Thrush
4.            High blood pressure
5.            Asthma
6.            Arthritis
7.            Depression
8.            Diabetes
9.            Sexual health problems
10.          Thyroid problems

Data provided by Balanceactiv to raise awareness of Bacterial Vaginosis Day 18 April 2012.


Call The Midwife author, Jennifer Worth’s Fight with Eczema

Jennifer Worth, author of Call the Midwife – currently a hugely successful TV series – sadly died just before filming began in 2011.

Some seven years previously she had contacted me offering a feature about the severe eczema she had developed at the age of fifty five and her efforts to relieve it.

The first line was startling: Severe eczema doesn’t kill you; it just drives you insane.

Written in much the same style as her books the feature chronicles the development and relief of the eczema she experienced.

Jennifer Worth at the worst of her eczema

Jennifer Worth at the worst of her eczema

I developed eczema for the first time when I was fifty five. Within three short months two tiny patches of eczema on my legs had spread to cover my entire body. It is the itching that drives you mad. I would scratch the whole night long until I drew blood, then it would begin to hurt, but the pain was infinitely preferable to the itching.

Dermatologists could only offer steroids. These helped a little, but the itch came back worse than ever afterwards. I was in despair, until I happened to eat a Chinese meal, which gave me food poisoning and I did not eat for four days. During that time my eczema virtually cleared up. When I started eating again it came back. The cause was obvious – food allergy. 

The dermatologists told me it was coincidence, as in their view there was no connection between food and eczema. But I was not convinced and searched every path for the offending foods – with no success. Let me say here that most people fail if they try to identify food allergies alone. It is too complex for the layman and you need an allergy specialist, a qualified nutritionist or at least a reputable book to follow.

Eczema on Jennifer's arms

Eczema on Jennifer's arms

I was fortunate in finding the right specialist, who guided me through a strict elimination diet. Once we had found the right diet, my skin cleared within three weeks. Then he led me through the challenge/reintroduction phase of the diet, which was very difficult and troubled by many pitfalls. After about six months, my skin was completely clear and I felt wonderful. Incidentally a side effect of an elimination diet is a surge of good health. Eliminating dairy products, gluten, yeast, sugars and chemical additives from your body can only be beneficial. We all eat the wrong things and suffer for it.

My specialist advised me to have a course of Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD) because, he told me new allergies would develop. I have had EPD – see below –  twice a year for nearly ten years and my skin remains perfect, for which I thank God every day of my life.

Clear of eczema

Clear of eczema

The charity Action Against Allergy asked me to write a book about my experiences detailing the elimination diet given me by my specialist. I was asked for this because there is so little information available on this subject. My book Eczema and Food Allergy was published in 1997 and featured in the Nursing Times, the Sunday Telegraph and the magazine Here’s Health. It sold out of two editions and last year they decided to republish online – see below. 

This is a very controversial subject. Doctors, dieticians and even the National Eczema Society will state that eczema is not connected to food. But I have proved that it is.

Jennifer after treatment

Jennifer after treatment

In this article, I have deliberately refrained from giving any advice to eczema sufferers about diet. It would be rash and irresponsible for me to do so, because the subject is far too complex for a short article. But my book contains all the details necessary for a successful elimination diet and includes many addresses for specialist treatment. My heart goes out to anyone afflicted with severe eczema. I know the suffering involved and it is beyond description. If my experience can be of help to anyone, I am well pleased.

Many people have asked me what EPD is; how does it work, where can you get it, and what does it cost? It is a very subtle and complex medical process, and I give below a brief summary of what it is about.

Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation is a form of immunotherapy developed by Dr. L. M. McEwen in the 1960s and now used worldwide. It has the potential to desensitise anyone to the allergens to which they are allergic. This includes foods, dust, animals, birds, grasses, pollens, moulds, and many chemicals. An ultra-low dose of allergen is used – approximately 1/1000 part of a routine skin-prick test – combined with the natural enzyme beta-glucuronidase which enhances, or potentiates the desensitisation process (thus we get the rather curious name). It is particularly effective for the treatment of eczema, and will work quickly for children – the younger the child the quicker it will work. It takes about 2-5 years to be effective for an adult.

EPD is only available on the NHS at the Royal Homeopathic Hospital (60 Great Ormond Street, London W1N 3HR). Dr Michael Jenkins, Consultant Allergist will see patients via a referral from their GP. EPD has a ‘Specials’ licence. This means it is accessible only to suitably accredited doctors to supply on a ‘named’ patient basis. The doctor must be a qualified MD trained in allergies, and who is specially trained to hold a licence to administer EPD.

There are about twenty such doctors in the country, and their names and addresses can be obtained from the British Society of Allergy and Environmental Medicine, PO Box No. 7, Knighton LD7 1WT Phone: 01547 550378; Web site: This is a charity which will give you the address of your nearest medical practitioner of both EPD and Neutralisation. An adult course of EPD, lasting about five years, will cost around £2000, but far less for a child. This may seem a lot, but, believe me, EPD is worth a second mortgage.

In my book ‘Eczema and Food Allergy’ I devote two chapters to EPD, which gives far more detail than I can give here.

Eczema and Food Allergy is available in print from Merton Books

Jennifer Worth, born 25 September 1935 died 31 May 2011, was a nurse, midwife and ward sister from 1954-1973.

Her book Call the Midwife about her years as a district midwife in the slums of London’s East End is published by Orion Books There is an interview with Jennifer talking to Danuta Kean about writing her books on that web page.

Two more books Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End make up a trilogy. All three books have sold almost a million copies and stimulated a publishing subgenre of nostalgic true life stories.

You can watch a short video interview where she talks about her nursing career and working with the nuns in the East End of London.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Washing Hands – Hygiene Matters

Washing hands

Washing hands

The importance of hand washing should never be under estimated. I wondered how many people picked up on it following Global Handwashing Day and was interested to see some feedback from the UK public.

Are we worried about hygiene?

It would seem we are, especially when visiting, and leaving, a public toilet. Some ingenious if rather ingenuous tactics are adopted by some people to avoid touching doors in the loo and on leaving. However, it’s all very well making sure you use a piece of toilet paper to hold the door handle, or wait until someone enters the toilet area to hold the door open for you, or failing that, keeping the door open with your foot and or elbow. But if, for instance in a pub, you go straight to the bar and eat a few peanuts from a bowl, just how many people have also taken some peanuts and did they wash their hands … Apparently e.coli has been found on nuts, crisps, even olives in open bowls on bars.

And what about cash machine keys, card readers in supermarkets, keyboards on computers, hand rails on buses and the Underground, the list goes on. You could say a ha’peth of dirt doesn’t do anyone any harm, but it isn’t just any old dirt we’re talking about. We’re concerned about campylobacter and salmonella bacteria both likely to cause a gastric infection and easily passed on through fecal contamination.

When out and about some people take a small container of antiseptic gel. It is a token gesture towards hygiene as it is not entirely effective. So it’s always wise to wash your hands before you get to eat anything. That’s a great restraint on your appetite – you would be off to wash your hands before you ate that luscious cake, cup of coffee and biscuit in the coffee shop of even the irresistible chocolate bar at the checkout! You would have to wait until you got home to wash your hands after touching the keypad in the supermarket and the trolley or basket handle!

Hand washing techniques

John Oxford professor of virology thinks people don’t wash thoroughly, or long, enough – singing two verses of Happy Birthday – to yourself – is a good guideline. Just rinsing your hands under water won’t wash the germs away. They need soap to slide off your skin.

And it isn’t just after visiting the toilet. It is important to wash your hands if you have been handling raw meat and poultry.

Increasingly public toilets have devices to avoid hands touching infected areas. For instance taps that operate when you waving your hand in front of a sensor, another sensor dispenses soap. The new blow driers from Dyson are becoming more common, so are ultraviolet light hand cleaners.

Did you know copper door handles kills MRSA?

Whether or not a recent study suggesting one in six mobile phones contaminated with fecal matter is statistically anomalous, the findings were interesting. Does it mean people use their phones in the loo? It wouldn’t surprise me. I remember a student who had been on work experience had transcribed an audio tape in which she distinctly heard the dictator using the loo. Luckily it was of the watery kind … Her experience had us in stitches!

So, while diarrhoeal disease remains one of the world’s biggest killers in developing countries and handwashing  saves lives, here it will help prevent a nasty stomach bug. In the UK it is more likely that children pass on stomach bugs. They have a habit of constantly putting their hands in their mouth, and love to handle pets and all that entails.

Did you know there are wipes available that kill 99% of harmful bacteria?

National Handwashing Day logoThe Global Handwashing Day website has a lot of very interesting statistics and background information.

So should we really be worried about hygiene? The consensus is yes, but keep it in proportion. Do you agree?

Val Reynolds, Editor


The New You Beauty Show – Giveaway Tickets

The New You Beauty Show

The New You Beauty Show

We’re making a point of getting to the Health & Beauty Show at Hertford on 19 June not just because we heard a whisper, well more than a whisper actually! of some rather special goody bags with some of our favourite skincare products, oh no, but because it promises to be an interesting event for anyone really into wellbeing for themselves and those they love. There will be the chance for treatments and to watch demonstrations.

We have two pairs of tickets to giveaway to In Balance readers – To enter complete the form below. Include The New You Beauty Show in the Subject box and your contact details in the text box.  Final date of entry 10 June 2011. One application per household.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

How to lose weight without dieting!

Dieting has never been our strong point and we were so touched by this rhyme sent in by a reader that we immediately sent her a copy of the new book Colour me slimmer that we find so inspiring.

I made this rhyme up in a fit of alcoholically fuelled despair walking behind two girls with lovely figures.  It tells you as much about myself as I want you to know and more about how my mother dealt with my deep despair. Lucy Reckett

Fatty watty watty
That’s what they say
Fatty watty watty
It really makes my day

Fatty watty fatty
That’s what they say
Not matter what the day
I’m fatty watty watty

So I’m so fat
That is that
No matter what I say
It only means I weigh
More than you
More than you
Oh it’s true
I’m fatter than you

Fatty watty watty
What do I care
There, there, there,
My mum says fatty watty watty doesn’t
matty matty moo!

Colour Me Slimmer is about clever dressing for a fabulous figure, whether you are size 12 or 22. Here’s a book that banishes baggy tea shirts, rejects dangerous crash diets. This essential style guide demonstrates that by simply wearing the correct clothing for your body shape, you can shed pounds in seconds.

Colour Me Slimmer is published by Hamlyn, rrp £12.99
It’s available at all good booksellers and on Amazon Colour Me Slimmer: Clever Dressing for a Fabulous Figure (Colour Me Beautiful)

To enter the draw send an email to with Colour me slimmer in the subject box and your full contact details in the text box, to reach us by latest 30 April 2011. One entry per household.

Royal Wedding Day Survival Kit

Nelsons are giving away a Royal Wedding Day Survival Kit including this beautiful clutch bag worth £40 to an In Balance reader.Royal Wedding Clutch

Kate will have a team on hand to help her wedding day run smoothly but Nelsons are giving away a wedding day survival kit cleverly disguised inside this beautiful clutch to ensure any bride can be a Princess for the day.

38% of people find that weddings are the most stressful celebrations, so have a few of these Nelsons essentials tucked away in your clutch to help the big day go smoothly.

The Wedding Day Survival Kit includes:Nelsons Lip Balm

  • Rescue Balm Is an intensive moisturising lip balm with natural flower essences that keeps lips luscious and smooth ideal for wedding day beauty! And perfect if you want an effortless come-hither pout for your new husband whilst underneath you’re feeling nervous about the big day. The size and ease of use makes Rescue Balm perfect for any handbag.
  • Arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel Nelsons Arnicare Gelcontains natural Arnica which can be massaged into aching legs and feet after running around planning the wedding.  It can also help relieve tired legs after a night spinning round the dance floor, but if your husband is a less than graceful dancer, it can’t stop him treading on your feet, so watch out!
  • Nelsons Pure&Clear Blemish Gel Nelsons Blemish Gelshould be kept on hand to target blemishes immediately as they appear. It contains extra strength Tea Tree which targets and calms the problem area and as it’s a clear gel it can be applied under your make-up and be applied as often as you like, so nothing but cheesy grins will appear in the wedding photos.
  • Clutch bag Nelsons Wedding Clutchwhich is the perfect accessory for any Princess bride

10 Runner-ups will receive the handbag essential Rescue BalmNelsons Lip Balm

All products featured above are available from Boots, and

Rescue Balm costs: £5.88      Arnicare Cooling Gel costs: £4.85         Pure & Clear Blemish Gel costs: £8.00

Nelsons was founded in London in 1860 by a young pharmacist who had studied homeopathy with Hahnemann. Nelsons homeopathic medicines are renowned as being safe, non-toxic and non-addictive and prepared in laboratories licensed by the Department of Health to stringent quality standards.

We have no hesitation in recommending their products – we have used them for many years.


To enter the draw for the Royal Wedding Day Survival Kit in a Clutch Bag worth £40, send an email to with Royal Wedding in the Subject Box and your full contact details in the Text area.

Entries must be received by latest 29 April 2011.

One entry per household.

The draw is open to residents in the UK.


Giveaway Winners – Bain Mousse

When we came across the Melvita Bain Mousse we really liked so much that we wanted to tell you about it, which we did in December. Foam baths give a luxury feel to a hot soak, in fact the bubbles keep in the heat and you experience a turkish bath effect, well nearly! We loved the aroma and the silky effect on our skin.Melvita oam bath

The Melvita range of products have a good feel about them, especially as they are all natural products with an underlying commitment to non-synthetic, organic ingredients and are not tested on animals.

Melvita is available at various outlets and on line. If you are in the Covent Garden area at all, do visit their shop in  Slingsby Street, it’s like an Aladdin’s Cave!

We had two bottles of the Bain Mousse to give away and the winners are:  B Shaw of Blackpool and H Forster of Surrey. Congratulations!

We have no doubt we’ll have other Melvita products to give away so keep an eye out for our regular newsletter, or subscribe – see below – and you won’t miss out!


Zimbali Coastal Resort, Durban SA

Fabulous plants at Zimbali

Fabulous plants at Zimbali

Descending a steep hill we could see and smell the sea! How exciting after a period in the bush and veldt.

What might be called a coombe in Gloucestershire, this massive 700 hectare valley leading down to the sea was a forest of plants, both planted and indigenous, and so extensive that guests at the top used golf buggies to get to the beach, and those on the beach definitely needed the buggies to get their lunch!

It was a sumptous setting for a golf resort where you can buy property overlooking the golf course and with views of the sea. It was a real knock out and the hotel interior was fabulous.

We had arrived for a spa treatment with lunch to followand we were delighted to have the opportunity to experience such wonderful facilities which, when we enquired, are not that expensive. A week with a golfing partner could be achieved within a modest budget, remembering the UK pound is very strong at the moment.

Clubhouse interior

Clubhouse interior

The spa centre offers an extensive treatments list, many of a decent length, that is an hour or more – the ancient Bali ritual, given to princesses for 40 days prior to their wedding day, takes two hours! As our time at Zimbali was limited by our need to get to Durban airport within a few hours our choice of luxury timeconsuming treatments was limited. However we did manage a full body bamboo massage of an hour. Traditionally used by various African groups, including the Tswana it has only recently been added to the Zimbali list. I only wish we had had a few more days to enjoy yet more luxury, traditional treatments.

Our lunch was memorable, we ate at a table overlooking the forest and the sea beyond. Good food, good wine and a merry group is a great recipe for happiness! Pity we had to up sticks and rush off to the airport to catch our plane en route for Jo’burg and home. Ah well, another time perhaps, it was that good.

August 2008

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

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