Doing What Comes Naturally
by Joe Sinclair
Illustrated by Yaron Livay
[Biodata and pictures of contributors will be found by clicking here]
I'm not a great believer in natural remedies. I'm not a sceptic either. I suppose pragmatist would be the best word to describe my attitude to "notions, potions and nostrums". If it works, don't knock it.
Okay, so that makes me a sucker for placebos. But if my health has been improved, then I'm going to be too happy to be worried about a denigratory label.
In fact, despite what I said above, I reckon I must be something of a sceptic, because it usually takes forever to convince me of the efficacy of a new approach to a problem. So, while I recognise that a successful treatment is no guarantee that it would be universally or permanently successful (even my belief in the Bates Eye Therapy that has served me well for sixty years) I'm prepared to give the benefit of any doubt others may have to any remedy that has worked for me.
I can think of two - both treating symptoms described in our leading article (click here to be reminded): headaches and arthritis.
A slew of years ago, while studying transactional analysis under the tutorship of the late Vivienne Gill, she was concerned about the discomfort of one of the class who announced that she was suffering from a headache. Vivienne then described her method of dealing with this situation.
She had us close our eyes and visualise a spot in the head where the pain was located. Of course, apart from the sufferer, the rest of us were simply using our imaginations. Having located a spot, we then had to visualise it in some shape or form. I believe her own device was a walnut. I chose to visualise a sugar lump. We then had to imagine ourselves compressing the shape, squeezing it mentally, until it became really small, then moving it across our heads until we could squeeze it out of an ear.
The member of the class for whom this exercise was adopted then announced gleefully that her headache had vanished.
The next time I had a headache, I adopted this method, again using a cube of sugar to represent the pain and, in the space of about five minutes, I had cured the headache. I have never since suffered from a severe headache. Immediately I feel the onset of a pain in my head, I think of a lump of sugar and the pain disappears.
This is a pretty standard type of tactic in NLP and it is no surprise that Vivienne subsequently went on to become a Master Practitioner and to teach NLP in place of TA. Her loss to cancer at what was still an early age was deeply felt by me, but her formula for dealing with headaches has ensured that she is unlikely ever to depart from my memory.
It came from a book on Natural Remedies that I acquired at a charity shop. It had some enthralling accounts of remedies from the past; remedies that have fallen into disuse; remedies that have been forgotten or overtaken by modern methods of treatment.
I had started suffering badly from arthritic nodules; first one thumb, then the other; and, at the time I bought the book, they were spreading to the index fingers. I was doing a lot of walking with the Cleveland Ramblers and every time one of my hands swung against my leg, the pain was excruciating. I had tried all the remedies recommended by well-wishing friends, to no effect. I had tried pills prescribed by the doctor. Zilch.
What could I lose in following the advice given in the book? It suggested heavy doses of calcium. This was not new. It had been suggested by friends and the doctor. But the author added another ingredient: she said that, in order to frustrate the possible build-up of calcium in the bones or the joints, it was necessary to take acid, and she recommended cider vinegar. So, three times a day I took a heavy dose of calcium in tablet form and a dessert-spoonful of cider vinegar. And within a fortnight the arthritic nodules had halved in size.
The only problem I had was that I hated taking the cider vinegar. It occurred to me that any acid might serve the same purpose, and since Vitamin C is effectively ascorbic acid, I started taking a megadose of Vitamin C with each Calcium tablet. The improvement in my hands continued apace. And I enjoyed the added advantage of whatever benefits were provided by the vitamin C tablets. I have since reduced the quantities and the nodules are still there, but quite small and no longer painful.
Okay, so what if it is simply a placebo effect?
It has worked, hasn't it?
Yaron Livay was a prominent chartered account in Israel before retirement, since when he has divided his time between Israel and England where he is a successful artist and print maker whose work has been bought, among others, by the Victoria and Albert and the Imperial War museums. He provided all the illustrations for Joe Sinclair and Michael Mallows book Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake Email: firstname.lastname@example.org