Sunday, 31 December 2017

Medicinal cannabis oil in the fight against cancer - by Pauline Lomas

This week's blog is another from Pauline Lomas, author of And So We Heal, who beat breast cancer using no orthodox therapies and only non-invasion alternative therapies. Here she discusses her experience with medicinal cannabis oil.

I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become – Jung

DCIM100MEDIA“Plunge in then,” ……says a faraway voice.
…well hardly a voice, but that familiar inner whispering that comes with a reminder to get a move on and put my thoughts down in writing. No more procrastinating – May is on the horizon for God ‘sake and the ‘blog’ is very much behind schedule. You get the picture? Not that I ever promised to write daily – phew!
But months behind again this time! Oh well… excuses…we do our best!
So much going on as always in this inquiring mind of mine, but never so much as since I started my new ‘regime’ – the long sought after ‘Rick Simpson’ medicinal cannabis oil. It came out of the blue in a chance encounter; but then I have been actively enquiring after procuring some – so be careful what one asks for eh!
It had been years since I had seen my doctor at the Biomedic clinic in Malaga, Spain.   The wonderfully passionate Doctora M.Eudoxia Lopez Peral, had been at the helm during my ECT treatments in 2005, and since Javier and I had decided to rent a small apartment this winter in Almunecar, Andalucia for three months, I could finally manage to see her again. And thanks to ‘New Approaches to cancer and the beloved Dottie I was able to have some Vitamin C infusions in Spain, as it has been a while since my regular trip to ‘Vision of Hope’ clinic in Brighton. It’s quite a struggle going back and forth, as flights are expensive and I really want to fly less.
Doctora Doxi highly recommended a homeopathic protocol from the ‘Hildegard pharmacy’ in Brussels, and I take the remedies twice daily for a few months, so more on that soon.
But back to the cannabis oil, the black gold:
One of the doctors that share the clinic space in Malaga suggested I do the Vega machine test as I had recently had a hair analysis which showed elevated lead and cadmium and low zinc, and so since I am following all leads as they come to me I was keen to do it. He then added “It’s a bit controversial, but have you considered medicinal marihuana –RSO, Rick Simpson oil, in particular?” Errrr…..Yesssssss!!! The tides were indeed turning – I felt to have won a health jackpot that day…As I have mentioned before, this beautiful cannabis plant is one of my ‘medicines of choice’, and I am grateful to be able to discuss it openly now without feeling that I am some kind of drug- addict looking for a high.  I was sad not to include the subject of medicinal cannabis in ‘And so we heal’, but at the time it took every ounce of strength to publish the book and I did not want to add the possibility of more stress with a likely stab from the media, or anyone, for my daring to even suggest that having an innocent puff on a pipe to see me through when times were quite frankly – I won’t use the word ‘horrendous’( let’s reserve such vocabulary for those being hung, drawn and quartered) but I have suffered a monumental wound to my torso nevertheless – and am in continual ‘treatment’, to hold things at bay.
Since no one was talking about cannabis oil back then in 2001, inhaling was the only alternative to increasing the cannabinoids in one’s system. Time and again over the years I had asked my doctor if there was any medicine that included cannabis, and could I possibly be prescribed ‘sativex’ perhaps which is a licenced cannabis medicine for MS patients. ‘No’ was the answer and not unless I had MS on the subject of sativiex.
But, times are changing …and fast…all over the world in fact. One only has to type in ‘medicinal cannabis’ on Youtube alone and you’ll be reading open-mouthed at the truth.  There is a wonderful revolution happening – and I am happy to be a part of it, although at the current price, who knows how long I can continue.  my only real hope would be to make my own but I wanted to avoid the hassle.  For the moment – thank God for credit cards when you need them, as when I left the clinic in Malaga that day I had my very own tiny bottle of the sticky black gold – RSO. It is very messy, be warned, but there are lots of different ways to administer the tiny dosage which begins at the humble size of half a grain of rice gradually increasing the dose. Since the bus ride along the Andalusian coastline was ninety minutes, I decided to take my first dose of my new found medicine and see what the effects would be. Certainly the beautiful landscape needed no help to appreciate, and I enjoyed a most blissful state, reminding me of something I read recently about the award winning Israeli scientist, Raphael Mechoulam who is almost universally referred to as the father of research on cannabinoids. In 1992, almost three decades after synthesizing THC, Mechoulam identified anandamide, a naturally occurring human cannabinoid neurotransmitter, (translation: the stuff that makes you feel high when you haven’t ingested anything.)   Given the opportunity to name it, Mechoulam turned to the Sanskrit word ananda, meaning supreme bliss……
It’s been 2 months now since beginning my regime with RSO (Rick Simpson oil.) I do need another bottle which has just arrived luckily as I am down to slim pickings with the original bottle. The idea is that one tries to take on board as many cannabinoids as possible, and so one has to experiment as to tolerance levels and particular strains.
In Israel at Tikun Olam – they have developed a strain called Avidkel which targets breast cancer cells in particular which i would like to look into.
And so… the winds of serendipity I can now speak from experience, and although it’s still early days, I will keep a diary on the subject. The first thing to note in my case is that ingesting RSO, which is an oil extract, I am experiencing a nauseous sensation which has been gradually diminishing. It helps to eat a little something as a chaser, or inhale vapor. With the advent of vaporizers one can now bypass ‘smoke’, and furthermore juicing the plant is a viable option for those lucky enough to grow. I am still quite novice and the vaporizer I bought has possibly short circuited, but what I did experience was my idea of an acceptable medicine, and much preferred to what is on offer from the big pharma I just ask that I am given free choice and access to it, and the right to grow it for myself and my family. With all the evidence it seems absurd that I’m not.
But let me tell you how nicely the universe works – as quite by chance whilst looking to find the RSO, I stumble upon ‘the cannabis club of Almunecar.’ Another jackpot! Although they still do not have oil available it surely is only a matter of time. My membership allows me to purchase what I need ‘legally’ and hopefully continue to document my use and speak up on the subject as are many. A dear friend from Belgium who is suffering with painful fibromyalgia vaporizes the plant in a special device easily available, in all shapes and sizes.
Looking back on my particular journey has been …ahem!…’wondrous’ in many ways these last thirteen years, teaching me much about all manner of things really – survival, heading the list needless to say, or there would be no list. Illness needn’t be all doom and gloom. Far from it! Of course it’s still too early to say how the RSO has affected things with my health as I am awaiting new blood tests. I do remember that first night’s sleep being quite tormented with a lot of what was to become severe leg aches which have lessened greatly. What I have found is that I am much more at ease about the things I used to worry about, I laugh a lot more easily, and in the beginning cried some too! Perhaps the biggest reward is that I sleep like never before which gives my body time to sort out its complex machinations. I feel so lucky in any case having been so close to the sea, to the water and the climate there on the ‘costa tropical’, as it is known. There was an exotic touch of the ‘multinational’ blending in with nature’s wonderful vibrant colours and the Phoenician-Arabic influence. A perfect winter choice.
That ‘time out’ has allowed me to re-connect with the elements. To absorb the power of the sea that I had longed for even though the water had not yet warmed up enough for submersion. Lately I do try to find much more enjoyment in life and have a new sense of hope for the future of my own health, and for that of others. How lucky I am to be  transported now as if in a dream back to this idyllic paradise that is Asturias. Back amidst the apple trees and wonderful green pastures, and even though I miss the wonderful sea being at my fingertips the truth is I have to start harvesting the red clover, not to mention the dandelions, nettles, etc. The garden is so wild with all the winters rain. It will soon be time for getting back to the UK so I must try to make the most of it. I continue with infra red saunas and ozone, as well as being beneficial, feel so warming to the bones as the air is still chilly up here.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Cancer the Life Changing Pause: Wake Up and Live - by Anjana Nathwani

Today's blog post is written by Anjana Nathwani, a Business Psyhologist and two time cancer survivor. She believes that the pause of cancer opens new avenues to thrive in life...

Many cancer patients share their stories and there is a mutual message that the journey has changed their perspective on life. Amidst the treatment and chaos, there is a mental numbness, and this numb position feels comfortable! During my second journey of cancer, these 'numb moments' were pauses from the everyday thoughts of hopes, fears, anxieties and joyous moments. The 'pause of cancer' as I call it was an opportunity to 'Wake Up and Live! 'Waking up to purposeful Living is a continuous journey! For me there were three key phases.
1. Cultivating a zest for life. Energising the mind and the body to feel life is precious. Whilst I had always paid attention to diet and exercise - I became more alert and changed my diet. Green juices, avocado smoothies and one hour in nature are my ingredients as daily. This has continued and the revitalisation has helped me to redefine goals that are more purposeful and each day in life feels valuable. Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are also integrated to sustain my well being. I find my energy levels are balanced and the alertness supports me in making wise choices. This new self empathy and compassion is energising to explore new avenues that are more fulfilling.
2. Resilience! Resilience is said to be a quality that allows people to bounce back from knock downs. I found that my resilience transpired as the spirit of Entrepreneurship. The energy to live creates a sense of impatience and wanting immediate results. I dived into starting a retreat programme for cancer thrivers and survivors, soon to discover there was a learning phase and being resilient enabled me to take a tour to build my confidence and to deepen my resolve. I took on a role at a Business School, this experience was phenomenal. For 18 months I taught five different subjects, marked 500 assignments, worked as Postgraduate Academic Adviser and mentored 20 research students. Working to tight timelines, exceeding quality standards and engaging with different stakeholders were amongst the challenges. This academic journey enabled me to think differently, learn fresh perspectives, and more importantly that I have the confidence and courage to begin a new phase in my career. This fall I revitalised my business dreams and rebranded my business and will be launching new service lines in 2018. Aligning intent, purpose and action are crucial. This new focus opens fresh doors each day.  
3. Optimism! Being positive about today and feeding forward has become the motto! Curiosity is my key to being positive and each day I challenge myself to do something I have not done before. The benefits are immense.  The brain is kept active and the intrigue helps with taking risks. Being with people who nurture my optimism is important and I therefore choose networks and social activities with this mindset. Yoga is a passion and my yoga companions are my fuel for optimism face to face and remotely.
This December is very dynamic for me, as I manifest my goals. I am very grateful for the opportunities the recent 24 months have given me. I am applying my experience, newly learnt skills and zest to encourage organisations and people to BeHuman by promoting and facilitating Well Being.              

Friday, 15 December 2017

Starting the Conversation - By Robin Daly, founder of Yes to Life

This week's blog post is written by the founder of Yes to Life, Robin Daly, about the charity's recent sell out annual conference which took place on Saturday 25th November 2017, entitled 'Starting the Conversation - exploring ways in which integrating conventional cancer care and lifestyle medicine can improve outcomes’.


In any conflict, there are forces at work maintaining division, suspicion and mistrust in order to keep the sides fighting and true to the cause. There are a myriad of ways to do this with propaganda, disinformation, fear-mongering and more. It’s really not that hard to create division in the world.

And then there are forces working to bring peace, resolution and reconciliation. For these there really is only one tool at their disposal: dialogue. It may seem a poor balance of odds, but this one strategy really is a powerful one. If the foot soldiers on either side of a struggle should ever get to talk to each other, they quickly find that, contrary to the propaganda, the enemy are simply other people with similar concerns, needs and hopes to their own. They quickly discover that both sides have been puppets of powerful forces at work to actually gain in some way from the continued struggle, and for whom they have been paying a high price, at times the highest price - their life.

Medicine is one such conflict, with the forces of conventional medicine ranged against ‘natural’ approaches in a struggle that seeks to force people into taking sides, to box them into the simplistic black and white, propaganda-driven world of good versus bad, science-based versus ‘dangerous’, proven versus ‘no evidence’. And people are paying a high price, sometimes the highest, for forsaking all the resources only available from the ‘opposition’. For example, conventional techniques can be life-saving for people with cancer, but all too often the accompanying side effects create new forms of suffering both in the short term and sometimes for life, for which there is little on offer. In contrast, the world of ‘natural’ and ‘lifestyle’ medicine excels at protection against damage, and prevention and management of side effects.

As in war, dialogue is the only way out of this tragic state of affairs. As long as nutritionists and oncologists keep each other at a safe distance, then they can continue believing the quackbusters’ tabloid-style characterisation of nutritional science as ‘nutribollocks’ (yes that is a direct quote!) and the conspiracy theorist’s labelling of conventional oncology as just ‘cut, burn and poison’. But start a constructive conversation, one that centres on the common ground they share - the wellbeing of patients - and you could soon be generating some mutual respect that might even lead to useful collaboration.

A constructive conversation is exactly what we had in mind for this year’s Yes to Life Annual Conference, ‘Starting the Conversation - exploring ways in which integrating conventional cancer care and lifestyle medicine can improve outcomes’. The morning sessions featured a formidable lineup of forward-thinking NHS health specialists, people who have themselves already started to explore the wealth of resources for patients that sit outside of conventional thinking and practice. And the afternoon showcased many of those resources, alongside some inspiring projects where collaboration is already well under way.

‘Integration’ is the aim of the conversation and the collaboration. Integrative Medicine, or, in the specific area of cancer, Integrative Oncology, aims to bring together the best resources from the widest possible spectrum of approaches, and to combine them in ways that exceed the potential of any one approach alone. It’s a powerful formula that has the potential to fill some of the most glaring ‘gaps in care’ that our NHS suffers from. Successive governments have, for decades, been pressing for ‘patient-centred care’ and ‘patient choice’. But step into a modern oncology unit, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything even vaguely approaching this. It seems that, on its own, the NHS simply can’t escape the old ‘Doctor as God’ model. In contrast, approaches such as Naturopathy or Functional Medicine are the very embodiment of a person-centred approach. Here you will find ready antidotes to the criticisms most often levelled at the health service: scarcity of time and attention, lack of care and compassion, conveyor belt treatments, toxicities and side-effects of treatments, and so on.

In Britain, we are shockingly far behind some other countries in embracing integration. The ability to stoically resist this patient-driven revolution seems to be a negative aspect of our national healthcare system. We may pay for our care in the UK, but we are far from being customers with expectations of personal service. Fortunately though, we are blessed with some pioneering doctors who are paving the way towards a new kind of medicine in which patients are equal partners in the quest for health and wellbeing. Leading the vanguard is Dr Rangan Chatterjee, GP, Functional Medicine Practitioner, and BBC TV Doctor in the House. Dr Chatterjee is singlehandedly opening up new avenues to health for viewers across the nation and simultaneously inspiring GPs to respond to their patients’ needs in an entirely different way. We were extremely fortunate to be able to interview him for an exclusive video for the conference.

The conference ‘hit the ground running’ with a talk from the passionate and inspirational patient advocate and bestselling author Sophie Sabbage, giving the patient perspective on the need for integration. Her talk titled ‘Caught in the Crossfire’ outlined clearly how it is patients who pay the price for the continued hostilities between professionals.

We were also fortunate to be host to the UK oncologist who is leading the field in the adoption of lifestyle medicine, Professor Robert Thomas. A genuine trailblazer, Prof Thomas offers all his NHS patients a lifestyle consultation. In his presentation, he demonstrated his clear understanding of, and support for nutritional and lifestyle approaches, bemoaned the unscientific messages from mainstream medicine regarding the role of sugar in cancer, and introduced us to some of the high quality trials of natural approaches he has initiated.

Two other GPs presenting at the conference are also engaged in tackling the status quo. Dr Rupy Aujla is passionate about cooking and nutrition and is starting an approved training course for GPs to raise their understanding of the direct relationship between food and health. Dr Malcolm Kendrick chooses to ignore the divide between conventional and other approaches, instead relying on his own assessment of the evidence and the balance of risk to benefit, a position that is entirely in tune with patient-centred care and patient choice.

The potential for integration was laid out in the afternoon sessions, with expert input from Nutritional Therapist Liz Butler, Medical Herbalist Claudia Manchanda, Food and Environment Scientist Dr Robert Verkerk, Functional Medicine Practitioner Meleni Aldridge, and a presentation on the benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) by Mark Boscher of Herts MS Therapy.

Alongside these presentations we were introduced to two examples of integration at work, clearly to the benefit and the approval of patients:

The NHS PREPARE for Surgery programme is a collaboration between exercise specialists and oncology staff to improve the results and the experience of surgery. Lizzy Davis of CanExercise joined NHS colleagues Hayley Osborn and Maria Halley to share their passion for the scheme and its successes.

Dr Catherine Zollman, Medical Director of Penny Brohn UK and Oncology Nurse Susie Budd introduced us to the working partnership developing between the charity and oncology services in Bristol that is bringing a marked improvement to the patient experience of undergoing conventional care.

The conference set out to demonstrate that the aims of integration are directly in line with established government policy, that integration  works for everyone involved, and that movement towards integration is finally under way. It was also to provide inspiration to the many who have yet to experience firsthand any progress towards those elusive goals of patient-centred care and patient choice, from some real-world pioneers and working examples within the NHS. Change is indeed afoot, and we are all needed to maintain the momentum that has been generated. The battle certainly isn’t over yet, but the conversation has begun.

Friday, 8 December 2017

My journey with Black Salve - by Pauline Lomas

This week's blog is another from Pauline Lomas, author of And So We Heal, who beat breast cancer using no orthodox therapies and only non-invasion alternative therapies. Here she discusses her journey with Black Salve.

In 2004 whilst researching the next ‘holistic’ treatment option for the cancerous lump in my breast I came across Compound X, another name for ‘black salve’, also known as Cansema (see Since I could not find any in the UK,  I ordered some from the USA with strict instructions on how to use it, and emphasis on the necessity to have good pain management and support in place.  I had read Ingrid Naiman’s wonderful book SALVES THAT HEAL, and felt prepared enough to go ahead. I was in Barcelona at the time – mid August, and sweltering (see page 156 of my book And So We heal.) Long story short – right choice – wrong timing!  The thick salve that I applied to the lump somehow melted in the heat and the result was extremely painful.  I decided then to abort the process but unfortunately I think I may have awoken the sleeping giant.  I had been trying to carry on as normal but the truth is if one is going to attempt this truly amazing treatment it is important to have support.
No regrets – that was 2004 and here we are 10 years later – I am still alive – minus one breast, but still on this long journey that has me passionate about helping to demystify the word cancer, and help herald better choices in the treatment of it.
After my ECT treatment in Malaga, Spain in 2005 I was able to get on with life. Sure I had lost most of the breast and all of my money and then some, but I was hoping that this was me done. Cancer Free – simple as that! The truth is after so many years of stringent living I was anxious to live a little. Abandoning my very strict regime, and rewarding myself with occasional treats, helped me to feel like a normal being; well as close as…..The task of committing myself to finishing a long planned book took it’s toll, and as each year passed and I missed the October ‘Breast cancer month’ deadline I would give in to stress.
By the time I finally published the book in 2009, I was exhausted and new tumour growth had invaded the chest wall.  Back to the drawing board then – My oncologist was keen to put me on Letrozole which I kept turning down – gut feelings always said no to that!
In retrospect – knowing what, and who I now know, my decision to have some surgical intervention in 2012 was a fear- based decision.  In all fairness to my oncologist, who has always been very supportive within NHS regulation, she did exactly as I had asked and left my lymph nodes intact.
Apparently the tumour had invaded the muscle so it took a fair while for my wound to heal. There was  a brief moment in time that all was well, or so I thought.  Since I had absolutely refused chemo and radiation I had to find further ways to support  my immune system with the hope of keeping further growth at bay.  The thing is – by this point research had advanced and I knew that there were other options available but I had no money….nature was my guide as always, and the seemingly never-ending journey continued…as one can see with the past blogs…
Then – as fate would have it a few weeks ago, I was introduced to Richard Linton, herbal pharmacist,  and low and behold this wonderful soul has been working with the salve for more than 15 years.  Had I known this thirteen years ago when newly diagnosed and with one solitary lump, I may have had a chance at saving my breast.  My journey would be quite different as it happened.
Under Richard’s supervision I have embarked on yet another stage of healing, beginning with one prominent tumour that has been misbehaving.  The black salve was applied on August 6th and 2 weeks later the eschar that formed fell off.  I do have fotos which I will share at a later date.  Yes it was painful, especially the first week, but I had done my research and knew what to expect – sort of…
The good news is that I never needed pain killers and managed with homeopathic and herbal remedies, and of course my medicinal cannabis oil which is number one on my list.  Richard does not seem to be phased by the task at hand as we have quite a complex journey ahead, as we now attempt to draw the other lumpetybumps, as I like to call them through the opening left by the eschar…..I know, I know…….not easy to follow as I am hesitating actually showing fotos at this point so bear with me.  The drawing salve helps with this and is much gentler.
With the world in apparent turmoil everywhere I look, I am choosing to see it as a reflection of what’s happening in my own  body.  Yes – my chest is undergoing radical transformation – but so too the rest of me.  The aches and pains of a few months ago have gone and I am fitter in many ways than I was in my youth because of the natural food and holistic ‘medicines’ I choose to work with.  With todays emphasis on many of the failures of our health system surely it is only a matter of time before everything is privatised; so best get a jump start and stay in control of your own body as best you can.
Seeking to find the natural ways that feel instinctively right for me at this moment, I trust as always in the invisible helpers along the way.  Thank God that there are so many like-minded people doing much the same and by the graces we are drawn together to make things better.  Slowly but surely the portals seem to be opening wider and I am so grateful to still be alive and kicking and allowed access to this realm of magical living.
…………..And guess what – yesterday I arrived back from 2 days in Yorkshire where I had all my mercury fillings removed painlessly and holistically by yet another grand soul! More on that in the next blog…..with a bit of luck I can post this before September clicks in!  Keep the faith dear ones and leave no stone unturned…..YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR GREATEST TREASURE!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Starting The Conversation: A Review Of The 2017 Yes To Life Conference - by Joan Faria

This week's blog post is a review of our annual conference by the wonderful Joan Faria from

My blog is a little different this month as it’s not my musings on a particular nutrition or health issue. Instead, I thought I’d bring you a review of the this year’s Yes to Life conference on integrative approaches to cancer which took place in London on Saturday 25 November 2017. I know a few people who would have liked to have attended the conference but couldn’t make it. Yes to Life will be releasing a video of the event, but as it was a long day making for a lot of video-watching, this is my shorter summary! There was evidently a lot more discussed than I have room for, but what I have written here are the points and issues that struck me as being most significant from the day. Nevertheless, it’s a much longer post than usual, so feel free to dip in and out. I hope you enjoy it.
Yes to Life conferenceThe title of the conference was “Starting the Conversation – exploring ways in which integrating conventional cancer care and lifestyle medicine can improve outcomes”. The aim was to discuss how we can bridge the gap between conventional treatment and other approaches so that people with cancer can benefit from the best of both. This involves communication and open dialogue between practitioners from both approaches – hence starting the conversation!

Sophie Sabbage, author of The Cancer Whisperer

That the conference opened with Sophie (not a practitioner but a patient, albeit an inspirational one) reflected how important it is to put the patient at the very centre of the treatment process. In her usual incredibly eloquent way, Sophie described that when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, she wanted to do absolutely everything she could to help herself, so she put together a team involving complementary practitioners as well as her conventional medical team. However, she found the scaremongering on both sides very unhelpful; the alternative practitioners warned her of the damage conventional treatments would do to her body whilst the medics were sceptical of the validity of any complementary or lifestyle approaches. There are often elements of arrogance and self-righteousness on both sides, which only serve to promote fear and disempowerment in the patient. In Sophie’s case, the first sign of a bridge between the two approaches came from her TCM practitioner, who likened the cancer in Sophie’s body to terrorists in a house, and described conventional treatments as the SAS taking the terrorists out, with complementary and lifestyle therapies then taking care of the house and the innocent civilians in it.
Siegel Love Medicine and MiraclesSophie referenced Dr Bernie Siegel’s book “Love, Medicine and Miracles”, in which he defines “exceptional patients”. “Exceptional patients refuse to be victims. They educate themselves and become specialists in their own care. They question the doctor because they want to understand their treatment and participate in it. They demand dignity, personhood, and control, no matter what the course of the disease.” This made me cry, because it was one of the first books that I read when I was diagnosed, and made me resolve to be an exceptional patient, something that often kept me going when I felt despair creeping up on me.
She also dealt with one of conventional medicine’s criticism of alternative therapies, that they promote false hope. Sophie said that there is no such thing as false hope, because “Hope does not make promises; it just hopes.” False hopelessness is a more dangerous thing. The final thing that rang true with me was that lifestyle therapies are a wonderful way of claiming some semblance of power in the face of powerlessness. I think that the complete loss of control that results from cancer and its treatment can often be underestimated by those who have not gone through it, and feeling that you are taking steps to help yourself can be incredibly validating and empowering.
If you have/have had cancer and haven’t come across Sophie before, then I urge you to look her up and read her book “The Cancer Whisperer”.

Dr Rupy Aujla of The Doctor’s Kitchen

Dr Rupy AujlaDr Rupy is an NHS GP and emergency medicine doctor, who came to a realisation of the benefits of nutrition and lifestyle through his own experience of ill health. Knowing that doctors trained in the UK aren’t educated in nutrition, he is aiming to change this.
He is using and adapting the concept of Culinary Medicine, which has been used in several medical schools in the USA since 2012. Medical students take a series of modules on nutrition in relation to particular health conditions. Each module involves AV presentations, familiarisation with the associated research, and a hands on food preparation session with a chef, a nutritional therapist and a medical doctor based on improving the outcome in a real case. Each module closes with eating the food and a frank discussion amongst the student and professionals of the benefits and controversies of the nutritional approach under consideration.
Dr Rupy has planned a pilot of this at Westminster Kingsway College (which has a fine culinary school). It starts in February 2018 and has been accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners. The main long-term goals are to change the medical curriculum and to train GPs so that they can have a conversation with their patients about lifestyle – food, sleep, exercise, meditation.
And excitingly, his vision for the future is that every GP surgery in the UK will have a community kitchen associated with it, with a chef and a nutritional therapist. Patients would be referred to it for support in changing their lifestyle  – how wonderful would that be?!

Dr Malcolm Kendrick, GP and author of “The Great Cholesterol Con”

Dr Kendrick described himself as “the maverick’s maverick”. Whilst working as a GP, he has managed to challenge some of the accepted ideas of our time, such as the relationship between LDL and cardiovascular disease mortality. His talk was a very entertaining reflection on why change is slow to take place within the medical establishment.  The medical establishment is made up not only of doctors, but also of pharmaceutical companies, the media, medical journals and more. As humans we all have strong motivating factors such as a need to conform, fear (of not conforming or of being ridiculed) and peer pressure, and doctors are not immune to that. Beliefs are made in a split second and are then very strongly held by individuals – accepted beliefs tend only to change with a change of generation.
Transactional analysis
He explained the psychological theory of transactional analysis, which holds that each person can act as either a parent, an adult or a child in a given situation. Often the doctor-patient relationship is stuck in a parent-child model. The doctor may be paternalistic and tell the patient what to do; the patient acts as a child and either meekly does as he/she is told or else is rebellious. This relationship is not helpful! If both parties can act as adults, a conversation can take place in which the patient’s needs are valued and included. Dr Kendrick suggested using phrases such as “I feel you’re not understanding what I’m saying” to maintain the patient’s position as an adult.

Professor Robert Thomas, NHS oncologist and author of “Lifestyle after Cancer”

Professor Thomas is an NHS oncologist who has a special interest in how lifestyle changes impact cancer outcomes. He is the editor of the website, which provides evidence based recommendations on lifestyle change for cancer.
Profe Robert Thomas
He began by discussing how chronic inflammation drives tumours to progress and metastasise. Pro-inflammatory factors include:
  • Obesity
  • Food intolerances
  • Exposure to carcinogens
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Processed sugar and the standard Western diet
whilst anti-inflammatory factors include:
  • Exercise
  • A diet rich in polyphenols
  • Eating nuts
  • Being happy
  • God gut health
  • The Mediterranean and macrobiotic diets are both anti-inflammatory
Conventional cancer treatments put many women into the menopause, with an associated risk of osteoporosis. Dr Thomas said that the evidence is now there to support recommending particular exercise types, such as squatting with weights, to improve established osteoporosis, rather than generic recommendations to exercise.
Dr Thomas’s evidence review of the relationship between sugar and cancer is available here.
Gut health (probiotics were referred to specifically) is now recognised as key for improving immunity, reducing chemotherapy side effects, improving response to cancer vaccine therapies and reducing chronic inflammation. Probiotics and polyphenols have a particularly significant interaction: a higher intake of polyphenols encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, and intake of probiotics results in better absorption of polyphenols in the gut.
Exercise for those who are overweight may not lead to weight loss by itself, but has greater benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving mood and (if outdoors) improving vitamin D status. For weight loss he recommended a combination of:
  • Regular exercise (such as a walk before breakfast)
  • 13 hours (minimum) overnight fasting – improves blood sugar control, reduces inflammation and leads to a 30% reduction in recurrence rate for women who have had breast cancer
  • Reduce processed sugar
  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet with more polyphenolic compounds (ie lots of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits)
He discussed the clinical trials which he has carried out on the food based supplement Pomi-T and the nail bed balm Polybalm (which protects against nail side effects caused by the chemotherapy drug Taxotere).

Dr Rangan Chatterjee, NHS GP, functional medicine practitioner, BBC1’s Doctor in the House

Sadly, Dr Chatterjee wasn’t at the conference in person, but sent his video contribution of an interview with Robin Daly (Yes to Life chair).
Dr Chatterjee is passionate about lifestyle medicine, but recognises that the under the current NHS model of 10 minute appointments, GPs are not equipped to provide lifestyle advice. However, he has a vision of GPs being able to refer to practitioners who are qualified to support lifestyle change (such as nutritional therapists, exercise therapists etc), just as GPs refer to other specialists within the NHS. The difference is that whilst GPs have an understanding of the work the NHS specialist do, they currently have no training in what lifestyle medicine practitioners can offer. To this end, he has developed a course in Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine. This has been accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners and will start in January 2018.
Evidence based medicine (EBM) is a philosophy dear to those in conventional medicine. It is often used as a criticism of lifestyle practices when it is deemed that there is not enough evidence to support their use. However, Dr Chatterjee reminded us than when the concept of EBM was first developed, it was said to exist at the intersection of 3 areas:
  1. Evidence based medicineResearch evidence
  2. Patient preference
  3. Clinical expertise
Today, EBM has come to mean research evidence alone. If we ignore patient preference and clinical expertise (ie what a practitioner has experienced working in practice) then we are not interpreting EBM correctly and are not evaluating what is best for the individual patient.
Dr Chatterjee encouraged all practitioners to recognise that thanks to the internet patients are becoming experts in their own condition. Practitioners should not be threatened by this but embrace it and ask patients what they have found out about their condition so that they can learn themselves as well as guiding patients through the information.

Lizzy Davies of CanExercise

Lizzy’s background is as an oncology and palliative care nurse. She moved into work as a cancer exercise therapist after her mother’s cancer diagnosis. Conventional cancer treatment often leads to physical deconditioning, with a loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat to muscle ration. Lizzy advises patients not to wait for that deconditioning to occur but to begin an exercise programme during treatment. Exercise is safe during treatment as long as it is tailored and progressed correctly.
Exercise programmes for people with cancer must be collaborative (also considering eating, sleeping, digestive health and restorative rest) and personalised (considering the type, volume and intensity of exercise that is appropriate and also the stage and type of cancer and the treatment).
Conversations around exercise can be started simply, by suggesting deep breathing, walking or gentle stretching. Ideally, the aim is for 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise and some resistance work (using weights or body weight) 2-3 times per week. Long-term follow up (after 6-12 months) is useful to maintain motivation.
CanRehab is an organisation which provides training for exercise professionals (for example in gyms or fitness centres) in working with cancer.
The PREPARE programme is now being used in some NHS cancer treatment centres to provide exercise programmes for cancer patients  the aim being to reduce functional decline during treatment. The programme is delivered by a dietitian, a nurse specialist and an exercise therapist and is adapted weekly during treatment.

Claudia Manchanda, medical herbalist

Claudi led us on a whistlestop tour of just some of the applications of herbal medicine as part of an integrative cancer approach. She invited us to start a conversation with nature, so that we increase our connectedness to nature. Herbal medicine, like conventional medicine, is founded on the principle “first do no harm” – but this refers to doing no harm to the earth and the sustainability of the plants as well as to the patient! Herbal medicine is an ancient practice which recognises the individuality of each patient, even among those with the same type and stage of cancer. The person’s emotional state is also important in deciding on a treatment. Cancer is often regarded in terms of chronic cell deterioration, deficiency and toxicity. Claudia stressed the importance of using local herbs – everything we need is provided for us within our immediate environment.
A medical herbalist is highly qualified, having a minimum of 500 clinical hours and having a BSc degree or equivalent. They are also CRB checked.
Herbs refer to the medicinal parts of a plant or fungi. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts – isolated chemicals from plants will not have the same effect as the synergy provided by the whole plant.
Particular herbs mentioned included:
Rosa centifolia – a tea of this lifts the spirits. It is used for grief and heartache. The tannins it contains help to seal mucous membranes, for example in the gut
Vitex agnus castus– the effects are dose specific. It is very good in preventing fibrocystic breast disease from progressing to breast cancer. It is progestogenic and lowers prolactin.
Feverfew – inhibits cancer cell division and is generically an anti-inflammatory. Claudia often suggests this instead of turmeric as feverfew is local. The feverfew plant was passed around the room.
Slippery elm – soothing, a demulcent on external and internal (eg from radiotherapy) burns.
Ginger – often used as a carrier to take other herbs to a certain part of the body. It is warming when dried, but not when fresh. Extraction methods for herbs are significant.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms – for burns, chemo brain and cachexia
Mangosteen – prevents chemo resistance
Berberine – helps drugs to cross the blood brain barrier
Fomitopsis betulinaBeware of drug-herb interactions. Perhaps the most famous is Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort) which induces the CYP3A4 liver enzyme and thus increases the clearance of drugs which are metabolised by this pathway. Citrus paradis (grapefruit) and valerianainhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme and thus the concentration of drugs metabolised by this enzyme can accumulate in the body.
Most mushrooms are aromatase inhibitors. Fomitopsis betulina from Hampstead Heath was passed around the room. This is an immune tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-parasitic, a prebiotic, anti-viral, and aromatase inhibitor, antiseptic and anti-angiogenic! Because mushrooms are potentially pathogenic, humans have evolved to have an immune response to them. Beta-glucans in pathogenic and non-pathogenic mushrooms alike bind to macrophage receptors in the small intestine and involve cells from the innate and adaptive immune system. As a food, mushrooms need to be cooked.  For use as an immune tonic, it is best to use a decocted tincture using both water and alcoholic extractions to get the full range of activity. We are closely related to fungi and taking anti-fungals can result in kidney damage.

Liz Butler of Body Soul Nutrition

The experience of the nutritional therapists at Body Soul Nutrition is that nobody knows what is needed better than the client themselves – the therapist’s role is to guide clients to learn to listen to their inner wisdom. The two main aims of nutritional therapy for cancer are:
  1. To move out of the stress response and into the relaxation response.
  2. To create an environment in the body which is hostile to cancer.
A cancer diagnosis and its treatment often puts people firmly in the stress response! Switching to the relaxation response affects the expression of a number of genes involved in cancer. Creating an environment (and particularly the tumour microenvironment) which is hostile to cancer requires removing anything that is undermining normal function (such as toxins) and restoring anything missing that is required for normal function (eg nutrients).
Nutrition plans are always personalise, but some general principles hold true for most people. The diet would, amongst other things:
  • be based on whole foods
  • be rich in vegetables and (to a lesser extent) fruit
  • be low in carbohydrate
  • contain plenty of healthy fats
  • contain moderate amounts of quality protein
  • contain lots of herbs and spices
  • be anti-inflammatory – for most people this means avoiding gluten or even all grains, caffeine, alcohol and possibly dairy
  • be pleasurable!
It is Liz’s experience that many people with cancer seem to have experienced what can only be described as a loss of connection – with themselves, with other people and with something greater. Liz and her colleague Sarah Lumley are both HeartMath coaches and offer connection coaching sessions to their clients in order to restore this lost connection.

Dr Robert Verkerk of Alliance for Natural Health International

Dr Verkerk’s talk was on keto-adaptation and dietary diversity.
He discussed the Blue Zones (areas in the world where there are statistically higher numbers of centenarians than elsewhere). In the Blue Zone in Sardinia, the population eats mainly plant protein and mainly animal fats. Meat is only eaten 2-3 times per month. Caloric intake is high (about 2700 cals/day) but exercise is continual. We need to consider not just what we eat but how and when we eat it.
There is currently an interest in low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diets, but these were originally investigated for their benefits in tackling obesity in the 19th century. Today we understand that it humans’ normal evolutionary state is to use fat accumulated in the body for energy when food sources are scarce. We are also designed for cycles of feeding and fasting – not continuous eating as we can today. In order to use body fat for fuel we need to have metabolic flexibility – our bodies need to learn and be able to beta-oxidise (break down) fats for use as energy as well as using glucose. In this way, we may not eat a ketogenic diet, but we are keto-adapted; when carbs are scarce in the body we can metabolise fat into ketones which can feed into the Kreb cycle to make energy. He referred to this image from Ditch the Carbs which humourously illustrates the common misconceptions around LCHF diets – they should still be plant-based! There is a fear that following a LCHF or ketogenic diet may result in ketoacidosis, but this is much more common in type 1 diabetes. Dr Verkerk said that for nutritional ketosis, ketone levels should be in the range 0.5-3.0 mmol/litre.
The diversity of the vegetables we eat has reduced markedly in modern times. We can only feed the world’s growing population if we move away from monocultures to a diverse food supply. This does not involve biotech! Organic vegetable box schemes (Riverford Organic was mentioned) which supply heritage varieties of vegetables can help increase our dietary diversity. Dr Verkerk compared the needs of the ecosystem as a whole and the soil in particular with the needs of the human gut microbiome.
Many people are not aware that most salad vegetables sold in supermarkets are hydroponically grown. A mineral feed may be added, but the nutrient density is far inferior to that in vegetables grown in organic soils. Organic food should be regarded as a form of “free from” agriculture, ie it is free from synthetic toxins but organic does not guarantee nutrient density. Know your food source! Wholegrain carbohydrates which are processed (eg bread, noodles) have a similar glycaemic index to white carbohydrates, because they are already broken down by the processing.
Take home points:
  1. Keto-adaptation (not necessarily ketogenic diet) – <50g carbs/day and intermittent fasting
  2. Move lots, including while fasting
  3. Diversify your plant-based diet
  4. Transform stress
  5. Find purpose in life.

Meleni Aldridge of Alliance for Natural Health International

FUnctional Medicine TreeMeleni is a Functional Medicine practitioner, with a background in psychoneuroimmunology. She introduced the concepts of Functional Medicine – that it looks at finding and dealing with underlying imbalances rather than only treating symptoms. This is a great strength of FM and means it can easily adapt to incorporate new and emerging science. She often uses a Functional Medicine Timeline with her clients to illustrate how life events have triggered ill health. After seeing her, a client will receive a “prescription” with recommended lifestyle interventions. They need not be complex but are personalised – she quoted one case in which the top recommendation was to sleep more. Other interventions might be to do with light, air, relationships, community and love as well as nutrition, exercise, sleep and relaxation.
The Institute of Functional Medicine was founded in 1991 by Jeffrey and Susan Bland. The Cleveland Clinic in the US is associated with it and has a long waiting list due to its popularity among patients who recognise the value of what it offers.
Nutritional therapists in the UK are trained in functional medicine principles.

Dr Catherine Zollman, GP and medical director of Penny Brohn UK

Penny BrohnPenny Brohn UK advocates a whole person approach to cancer. It involves building resilience in multiple areas in life (mind, body, spirit, emotions) so that if one area is under stress there is enough resilience elsewhere to cope.
Penny Brohn UK are working with NHS cancer services in the Bristol area to improve what is offered to patients. They deliver the Recovery Package after cancer treatment at local hospitals, run training courses for oncology teams and have recently been working on a joint statement on nutrition which has the agreement of hospital dietitians, nutritional therapists from PB, oncologists etc. This references the new World Cancer Research Fund booklet “Eat Well During Cancer”.
Susie Budd, chemotherapy nurse in Bristol, spoke about how working with Penny Brohn UK has provided benefits to patients including regaining control, empowerment and avoiding false hopelessness. There are weekly meetings for Bristol NHS cancer patients at Penny Brohn, involving talks, physical activity, guided meditation, treatments such as acupuncture and one-to-one consultations with PB doctors.
Dr Zollman finished by observing that in the current crisis in healthcare there is a great opportunity for integrative care – as there is in our own health crises.

Mark Boscher of Herts MS Therapy Centre

There are 50 Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centres in the country offering Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). These centres are all independent and have their own pricing structure and rules. Many offer HBOT to cancer patients as well as to MS patients, although not all have the capacity to. Altogether MS Therapy Centres have provided over 3 million HBOT sessions so very safe procedures have evolved.
HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a chamber under a maximum of 1 extra atmosphere of pressure. Pure oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure provides 5 times more oxygen than air and helps load up red blood cells with oxygen. At extra pressure the blood plasma becomes saturated. The MS Therapy Centres’ experience is that HBOT may help two thirds of people. The centres also provide signposting to experts for questions regarding clients’ personal health conditions. Many choose to use HBOT alongside a ketogenic diet when dealing with cancer.
At least 20 HBOT sessions are needed. MS Therapy Centres’ prices vary from £17.50 (in Herts) to £50. Herts offers a free trial. Contact for more information.

Dr Damien Downing, President of the British Society for Integrative Oncology

By this stage the event was running late due to the enthusiasm of speakers and audience alike, so Dr Downing was brief, simply urging us to join the BSIO. Lay people are welcome at meetings as well as practitioners so long as it is understood that no personalised advice can be given.
The evening concluded with a brief Q&A (a “conversation”). Topics included radiation from mobile phones and how this can be ameliorated by grounding. The panel were keen to emphasise that it is important to deal with the issues which you can and not get stressed by those which you can’t. Yes to Life were thanked for a superb conference.
Y2L conference panel