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Acorn Health Blog

What we love is great health...

...and we like to write about how we can all achieve better health, naturally. Sometimes tips on how you can DIY to better health and sometimes on the therapies that can make a difference to you, your health and wellbeing.
Thank you for reading, We hope you enjoy :)

Indian Head Massage

General Health & Wellbeing, Therapies Posted on Thu, June 23, 2022 12:09PM

Indian Head Massage has been practiced in India for hundreds of years where these skills and all the benefits are passed down through the generations.  It arrived in the UK in the 1970s when Dr Narendra Metha – who had been studying here and really missed his homeland’s stress-busting therapy – developed the original techniques from India and introduced it as a highly beneficial therapy.  Now you can find it in lots of places, including at your hairdressers where you can get a basic Indian Head Massage while having your hair washed and conditioned!

For the majority of us, modern living presents us with a lifestyle where little physical labour is required and we may spend much of our days indoors, without natural light, or even fresh air, and few ways of working our muscles.  Apart from mental and emotional pressures, our physical environment also contributes to us having tense, achey muscles, fatigue, tension headaches and many other symptoms of stress.

Massage of all types helps us counteract this, and head massage is very effective.  Why?

  • A head massage can benefit the whole body because stimulation of the head results in stimulation of the brain, and this is where our Central Nervous System is found that reaches every part of our bodies.  When stimulated in the right way, it will help ease muscle aches, take away tension headaches and even counteract insomnia.
  • Indian head massage not only focuses on the face and scalp, but also the neck, shoulders, upper back .. and at Acorn we also include arms and hands too.  So it’s a wonderful upper body treatment.  These areas often hold a lot of tension that has accumulated from poor posture and repetitive movements (like being at your keyboard everyday!)  The massage helps relax taut muscles, ease stiffness, stimulate blood flow and drain away excess toxdins, so helping to relieve headaches, eye strain and improve join mobility.
  • Regular massage sessions can also help improve condition of skin and hair.  It stimulates blood and lymph circulation to ensure that living cells are well oxygenated and provided with fresh nutrients.   Increased blood flow to the brain can, of course, also help improve concentration and improve memory retention.
  • Indian Head Massage is a truly pleasurable experience; it helps release the body’s natural feel-good hormones, endorphins, that contribute to your feelings of contentment and happiness.
  • Part of Indian Head Massage includes the stimulation of certain acupressure points on the case and scalp that help to release blockages in energy pathways of the body.  You can gently massage these points yourself and will often notice that some are more tender than others, indicating an energy imbalance/disruption on that particular therapy.  At Acorn, your therapist Eileen will give you a handout sheet that shows you where these are, to take away with you after your treatment.

After your massage, it’s a good idea to rest and relax and avoid strenuous activity for atleast 12 hours.  You should drive plenty of water to speed up the elimination of toxins from your body .. better out than in !  Also, cutting back on caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee or cola will help too.  Your body will be detoxing .. so cut back on alcohol too!  And avoid a heavy meal straight after.  These are all sound aftercare tips that will help you get the most from your massage.

Remember, your body will be detoxing so be gentle with yourself and help support it’s healing processes!    Take care if you’re driving home afterward too .. deep relaxation may cause your reactions to slow down temporarily.

A regular Indian Head Massage can become an important and enjoyable part of your health and wellness regime!!

Taster sessions of 20 mins are available here at Acorn on 23 July at our BloodBikes fundraising event.  

Otherwise, our Indian Head Massage therapist Eileen is at Acorn every Friday from 1130 a.m. to 7.30 pm and you can book online.



The most common questions I get asked about hypnotherapy… and the answers.

General Health & Wellbeing, Therapies Posted on Thu, March 24, 2022 02:03PM


Q. Can everyone be hypnotised?

A. Yes, if they want to be. The hypnotic state is natural and we all drift in and out of it many times a day. When working with a hypnotherapist, we use this natural state to make the changes you want to see in your life. We all have free will and we choose how much effort we want to put into something or guidance to follow. 


Q. Does it work?

 A. Much like the answer to the above question, yes if you want it enough. I can’t make anyone do something they don’t want to, or stop them from doing something that they want to do. But hypnotherapy is very powerful for getting you to feel differently in situations where you want to see and feel change. 


Q. How will I know when I’m in a hypnotic trance? 

A. Its not what most people expect and this is in part because we are all unique and experience things differently. For some its just a feeling of being a little relaxed, some people feel like they are floating, or sinking into the comfort of the chair. Some see colours and some feel like their hands have grown in size – yes I know that sounds odd, but its not uncommon for me to see a client look at their hands when they open their eyes to check what they look like. 


Q. How many sessions will I need?

A. This depends what you are seeking hypnotherapy for. Generally, to stop smoking its a single session of 90 mins. Simple phobias, 2-3 sessions on average. For anxiety usually around 5-10 sessions. For weight loss and IBS, I run a 5 session programme.  


Q. How often will I need to come?

A. Weekly or fortnightly is best, there’s no point in coming more than once a week as your mind needs time to process what we do in the session, before the next one. More than 2 weeks and we lose momentum on what we’re working through, so 1-2 weeks between sessions is the ideal for the best outcome in the minimum amount of sessions. 

If you have any questions that aren’t covered above, do let me know, I’ll be happy to do another Q & A, or feel free to book a free of charge consultation if you’d like a chat with me. 
Sally 



Yeast Overgrowth

General Health & Wellbeing Posted on Thu, January 27, 2022 12:01PM

When people talk about yeast overgrowth in the body, they are referring to harmful yeast organisms. Candidiasis is by far the most common type of yeast infection, and there are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans (a type of fungus).

We all have small amounts of Candida growing in our digestive tracts and living on our skin. This (along with other harmful gut flora, such as fungi, parasites and bacteria), is usually kept in check by our “friendly” bacteria. In this way, Candida normally co-exists with many other types of bacteria, in a state of balance in and on our bodies.

When things go wrong

It is only when our natural defences are out of balance that we become vulnerable to overgrowth – in other words, the levels of harmful gut flora that can make us ill start to exceed the number of beneficial bacteria which help to keep us well. Illness, poor digestion, a high-sugar diet and medication (such as antibiotics, which destroy both good and bad bacteria), are all examples of factors that can create the perfect environment for dysbiosis – the technical term for too many bad bugs.

In fact, yeast overgrowth is a common manifestation of dysbiosis. When the immune system is under strain, or the liver is functioning poorly, Candida (an opportunistic organism) is able to flourish. If allowed to remain, it can grow in the mucous membrane lining of the small intestine, where it can take root and cause damage. For instance, Candida can worsen any ‘leaks’ in an already inflamed gut (such as those seen in cases of leaky gut syndrome). If the yeast is permitted to enter the bloodstream, it can then also travel to various other parts of the body and promote multiple fungal infections.

Some of the more common signs of Candida overgrowth include:

  • fatigue
  • sugar cravings
  • brain fog
  • food allergies / intolerances
  • blurred vision
  • depression
  • digestive problems
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • chronic diarrhoea
  • yeast vaginitis
  • bladder infections
  • menstrual problems
  • and constipation.

The end result of a prolonged infection can be an immune system that becomes overwhelmed with toxins and reacts by producing antibodies and inflammatory chemicals. In these circumstances, it can be useful to review your overall lifestyle, paying particular attention to your diet, toxic load, hormonal balance and digestion – it is estimated that as much as 70% of our immune system resides in the digestive tract.

The role of diet

The average modern diet and lifestyle are not always conducive to healthy levels of gut flora and efficient digestion, which can in turn make us more prone to yeast overgrowth and a strained immune system. For example, we are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of toxins and chemicals, not least from the processed foods we eat, as well as the pollution and contaminants in the air we breathe and water we drink. It is therefore now generally accepted that people suffering from Candida albicans overgrowth can benefit from the following:

1. Eliminating certain foods and drinks from the diet, which ‘feed’ the Candida and inflame the gut: Some foods provide energy directly to the Candida yeast, while others impact the digestive system, the immune system and reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. If you want to beat Candida overgrowth and avoid it in the future, give your body the best possible chance by avoiding them. Good examples are refined sugar, white flour, alcohol, caffeine, chemical-laden processed foods, foods containing yeasts or fungi (such as mushrooms, cheese and milk) and other acid-forming foods. Wherever reasonably possible, also minimise your use of medication (such as antibiotics).

2. Incorporating more of certain foods into the diet: Just as there are certain foods worth avoiding as part of an anti-Candida diet, there are also certain foods that can support your body’s recovery, your immune system and help to restore gut health. Increase your intake of nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables (preferably raw, organic and seasonal). These natural whole foods are packed with dietary fibre, enzymes and other cleansing and protective nutrients (such as antioxidants, amino acids and phyto-chemicals). They are also naturally alkalising – a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and a strong immune system is thought to be assisted by a diet which maintains the correct acid/alkaline balance.

3. Taking probiotics: As yeast overgrowth is often linked to an imbalance in bowel flora (as mentioned above), there is also a good case for taking probiotics (good bacteria). This can be through fermented foods or probiotic supplements. Some of the best probiotic foods include kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tofu and tempeh. If you choose to take probiotic supplements, it is a good idea to opt for high-strength, multi-strain products, with bacteria that colonise the gut.

4. Boosting the immune system: It is thought that overgrowth of yeast tends mainly to occur in those with weakened immune systems or those whose levels of good bacteria have been diminished as a result of some external factor (for instance through stress, pregnancy and/or the use of antibiotics, birth control pills or steroids).

As mentioned above, failure to promptly address a yeast overgrowth infection can lead to Candida organisms entering the bloodstream and colonising other areas of the body, such as the urinary tract, vagina, nails, mouth and skin. This level of infection can result in a chronic systemic problem, with large numbers of yeast germs further weakening the immune system and perpetuating the problem.

Candida albicans can produce around 75 toxic substances that are poisonous to the body. These toxins can contaminate tissue and weaken everything from the immune system, liver and kidneys, to the lungs, brain and nervous system. It would therefore logically be beneficial to take proactive steps to boost your immune system during a Candida infection. This might include cleansing and detoxifying your body, increasing your intake of organic whole food nutrients and (as suggested above) ensuring healthy levels of good bacteria in your gut.



Do I have a food intolerance?

General Health & Wellbeing Posted on Tue, November 30, 2021 01:49PM

A food intolerance (otherwise known as non-allergic food hypersensitivity), is a condition of the digestive system. It involves some form of negative reaction, which is caused by the body’s inability to properly digest a particular food, food additive or other compound found in food (or drink).

Food intolerances are far more common than true food allergies. They also tend to occur more commonly in women, and one reason for this may be hormone differences as many food chemicals act to mimic hormones.

In the majority of cases, both food allergies and intolerances develop over time; so a food that was once tolerated well might suddenly begin to make you feel ill. Symptoms may begin at any age and, while they can be wide-ranging, some of the most common ones are:

  • stomach bloating
  • water retention
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • diarrhoea
  • skin rashes
  • weight gain
  • head aches
  • mood changes
  • cravings (ironically, often for the foods responsible for the intolerance or allergy)
  • mouth ulcers
  • recurrent bladder infections
  • fatigue

What causes a food intolerance?

In simple terms, food intolerances can be caused by various chemicals (both natural and artificial) that are present in a wide variety of foods. The reaction experienced is usually the result of a deficiency in, or absence of, particular chemicals or enzymes in the body that are needed to digest a particular food substance.

The role of digestive enzymes

While we eat food for the nourishment of our bodies, our digestive systems can’t actually absorb food in its whole form; instead it absorbs nutrients. So before it can be useful, food has to be broken down into its constituent parts, such as amino acids (from proteins), fatty acids (from fats) and simple sugars (from carbohydrates), as well as vitamins, minerals, and a variety of other plant and animal compounds. Without this efficient process of digestion, which converts nutrients into a form that is absorbable by the body, we would not be able to survive. Digestive enzymes are central to this process. They occur naturally in whole foods (such as fruit, vegetables and plants), but they are also manufactured by the body to assist digestion. While this mainly takes place in the pancreas and small intestine, digestive enzymes are also made in the stomach and even the saliva glands of the mouth. If you don’t eat a diet that contains enough enzyme-rich foods (e.g. a diet high in refined and processed foods), or your body does not produce enough of its own enzymes (e.g. because you are sick, elderly or under stress), it will struggle to properly break down food. This can lead to certain digestive complications and complaints, including:

  • fermentation of food in the stomach and small intestine
  • putrefaction in the colon
  • increased activity and overgrowth of harmful bacteria and parasites
  • poor absorption of nutrients.

In particular, the inability to efficiently digest food can contribute to the development of food intolerances. This is because, if you have poor digestion, your intestinal lining can become irritated and what is known as “leaky gut syndrome” can develop. In susceptible people, any partially digested food particles can seep into the bloodstream, strain the immune system and lead to food intolerances, and even allergies in extreme cases.

Food allergy vs intolerance

Food intolerances and allergies are very different. As mentioned above, an intolerance is a digestive system response. In contrast, a food allergy is an abnormal response to food, which is triggered by the body’s immune system. A true food allergy requires the presence of certain antibodies against the offending food, whilst a food intolerance does not. What’s more, the antibodies tend to lead to an immediate reaction whenever the offending food is eaten. This distinction is important because, while a food intolerance may lead to some unpleasant symptoms, it is not life-threatening and symptoms tend to come on more gradually – usually within half an hour, but sometimes as long as 48 hours after ingestion of the substance which is causing a problem. An allergy, on the other hand, is usually a lot more serious and may even be fatal in extreme cases (e.g. through anaphylaxis).

Some common examples of food intolerance include:

  • Lactose intolerance – The most common food intolerance is to lactose, found in milk and other dairy products. It is caused by the body’s inability to properly digest high amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar in milk, because of a shortage or absence of the enzyme lactase.
  • Gluten sensitivity – Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. The term “gluten sensitivity” is used to describe those individuals who can’t tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with coeliac disease, but yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in cases of coeliac disease. Interestingly, although coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by an immune response to gluten, it can also result in gluten sensitivity, as well as temporary lactose intolerance.

How is food intolerance identified?

Food intolerances are often more difficult to diagnose than food allergies, because they tend to be more chronic, less acute and therefore less obvious in their presentation. For example, there are no antibodies present to look for. As such, they are most often identified through a simple trial and error approach – a dietitian or nutritionist will go through a process of elimination with the individual, removing suspected problematic foods and systematically re-introducing them back into the diet, looking for corresponding improvement and worsening of symptoms. Bioresonance testing is another, much faster method of identyfying any potential food intolerances with results usually available at the time of testing. Other methods of diagnosis include hydrogen breath testing for lactose intolerance and fructose malabsorption and ELISA testing for IgG-mediated immune responses to specific foods.

Living with a food intolerance

Once the offending food or foods have been identified, the best advice is to avoid them wherever possible or to embark on a desensitizing treatment. This is likely to lead to a reduction, and hopefully over time, the total elimination of symptoms. Fortunately, nowadays there are a number of specialised “free from” foods and health supplements available online, in supermarkets and in health food shops, which help to make life a lot easier for those with food intolerance. However, with any diet where there is restricted food choice, it is important to ensure that you are still getting all of the nutrients you need on a daily basis. Severe food intolerance can, for example, lead to excessive weight loss and, occasionally, can even result in the individual becoming malnourished. Optimum nutrition can be achieved through careful meal planning and appropriate supplementation.



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