Tag Archives: cancer

Various blogs on different types of cancer – diagnosing, treatment or providing appropriate website link.


Last month I had my usual trip to the Friday market at Brantôme, a small picturesque town in the Perigord , a chance to pick up on the local gossip and see what’s in season.


The gossip first; Olivier from Café Co’Thé on ‘Rue Victor Hugo’ was on the French version of Mastermind and he did very well but didn’t get through to the third round. Needless to say his questions were on coffee! There have been a few major changes in that the pharmacist has moved over the bridge and their old shop has been taken over by the cafe owners next to the newsagent on Puy Joli and as they have createneated a large terrace( and who gave permission for that!)  the stall selling greengrocerie has had to move opposite the new cafe as the pitch has been taken over by the terrace. Moreover, the fishmonger’s van has had to relocate up the road on the main bridge! Then a few progress reports of new illnesses and deaths in the past month, what events are coming up such as ‘ the Charente Weavers festival’ in Varaignes, the home of the slipper ( Pantoufle) and what concerts or Art exhibitions are coming up at the Abbey or nearby and not forgetting the progress of the garden and the weather almost all in the same breath! This is what markets are about and happen the World over – it could even  be Saturday morning in West Ealing or chatting on Pitshanger Lane.

Before meeting up for coffee a view around the many stalls containing foodstuffs, mostly locally resourced, homemade wooden items, soaps and jewellry aswell as random Morrocan , Peruvian stalls that find their way to Brantôme. The seasonal item that is most noticeable are  local strawberries including ‘Fraises de Bois’,  strawberries diligently gathered in the wild. Also, as always is the Asparagus which always appears at this time and has a very short season. Their are the familiar green asparagus but more popular in this region is the white or purple Charentais asparagus. Fresh asparagus is usually only available in French markets in May and June and stalls sell out very quickly.  White asparagus is derived from the same varieties as green asparagus, however its growing method separates it from other varieties; while being cultivated, it has never seen the light of day: soil is mounded over the asparagus plants to prevent the sun’s rays from producing chlorophyll as they grow. Hence,it matures without colour, making it the albino version of asparagus. When the slightest sight of a tip protrudes from the earth, the plant is picked.
Ideal White asparagus spears are pearly white, thick and rounded, about 6 to 8 inches in length with Christmas tree shaped crowns. Their flavor is mild, slightly herbaceous, earthy and nutty with notes of artichoke and fresh White corn. I have to say I prefer the green variety.
As it hasn’t received the nutritional elements of light, white asparagus is more brittle than green asparagus and must be used soon after harvest or the spears quickly turn fibrous and bitter, rendering them inedible. White salad asparagus are tender and sweet, and can be eaten raw or cooked. Sauté chopped white asparagus with shrimp or scallops, or cook quickly in brown butter and serve as a side.

An easy way to cook green asparagus is first break the stems where it breaks naturally to get rid of the less tender part then lie them in a pan or tray covered with water, bring the water to the boil and then turn the heat off and leave for 5 mins. Serve with butter or Hollandaise sauce on their own or an accompaniment with poached salmon.


The same evening we went to the local restaurant for supper and we were interested to note that our amuse-bouche ( pre-meal taster) was garnished with wild asparagus which was foraged in the local vicinity. I managed to discover the source in the next village and imagined Primitive Man ( a known resident of the Dronne valley) probably fed on this delicacy.


The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans valued asparagus for its medicinal value in addition to enjoying it as a food. The second century physician Galen attributed cleansing and healing properties to asparagus.

Asparagus can neutralize ammonia, protect small blood vessels, act as a diuretic… plus its fiber is a natural laxative.

Modern studies show the ancients were right to place high value on asparagus. By eating only a few calories you benefit from many nutrients.

It’s loaded with nutrients: Asparagus is a very good source of  fibre, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
This herbaceous plant—along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals.

This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.
Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, according to preliminary research, may help slow the aging process.

The asparagus tuber is used in Chinese medicine, known as Tian Men Dong and tonifies the Yin especially the lung and kidney Yin which are affected in debilitating illnesses such as cancer.

This is an an important ingredient of the formula Káng Ái Fāng (C82) which when I have noticed when  administered with Western medicine: the patients seem to respond better and become less debilitated and recover from the ill effects quicker. Most oncologists are not averse to supporting the use of this medication.

image     image

Lung Yin deficiency manifests itself by  a dry cough, loss of voice, thirst, dry throat, dry skin, sometimes spitting up thick sputum.  When advanced, can become Lung Consumption: chronic cough, low-grade afternoon fever, nightsweat, hemoptysis, thin, rapid pulse.

The kidney Yin deficiency occurs in most debilitating chronic illnesses and in Chinese medicine is considered part of the ageing process. It is manifest by symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus, weak lower back and legs, warm palms and soles, afternoon low-grade fever, diminished sexual function, scanty and dark urine, red-dry tongue, thin pulse without strength.  Kidney yin fails to nourish Liver yin, which can lead to Kidney+Liver yin Deficiency.

In Chinese Medicine the relationship between the Liver and the Kidneys is of considerable clinical significance as it is based on the mutual exchange between blood and essence and is particularly important in gynaecology. Essence ( oversimplified) is a term in Chinese medicine to describe vital substances which are inherited and acquired and determines our basic constitutional strength and resistance to exterior pathogens. When the Essence is deficient it affects growth, development,  fertility and our ability to fight disease of body and mind.

I find that TCM for me gives some explanation to the mysteries of medicine, chronic illnesses and ageing and why we eat certain foods and understanding more about asparagus is a good example of that!


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This week I had an email reminding me it is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week in March and to prepare for fundraising events and this brought to mind the tale of a dear aunt.

It was Easter 1969 when my aunt who was diagnosed with carcinoma of the ovary. She was the head teacher of a challenging junior school in Dagenham and aware of the surplus energy many of her pupils had and as no-one had volunteered to teach imagefootball she had decided to take on the task. However, that did create some problems as she was a Roman Catholic nun Sister Mary Ursula, who wore a full length habit and a stiffly starched headdress as seen in the comedy Sister Act!

I had only seen her when we as a family visited London as she was not allowed to stay anywhere other than a convent. We always had great fun as children when we visited as she always managed to produce a special meal usually afternoon tea and we were allowed to explore the convent grounds play with the animals they kept as well as have a singsong or dance to popular songs around the piano. We also helped to serve soup to the unusual people who came to the back door. I was always puzzled by these visitors but despite being as inquisitive as usual I never got any satisfactory answers to why these people came.

She had been to see her team play in the schools cup final and was overjoyed that they had won. She had run up and down the pitch cheering them on like any other football coach but in full nuns habit!
Unfortunately, shortly after this she was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and incidentally found to have advanced Ovarian Carcinoma. She like many others showed very little in the way of symptoms.

Coincidentally, I had applied to do voluntary work in Dr. Barnado’s children’s home in Barkingside, Essex, helping with spins bifida children who had been taken into care and was accepted. They provided free accommodation and meals and this gave a country girl a chance to be able to explore London. What’s more I would be near Upton Park Hospital where she was having frequent admissions for treatment.

It wasn’t long before she made her mark there with frequent colourful visitors ranging from high ranking priests to ex-pupils. There was never a dull moment especially as she took it upon herself to visit the male wards (bearing in mind that in those days many patients were in hospital for weeks on end) equipped with mouth organ to orchestrate singalongs usually the old cockney pub songs or football songs especially as she was a keen West Ham supporter!

Needless to say it was appropriate that she was the first person I told when I received my A level results and full acceptance to Medical school. Sadly she died the day I left to go home to prepare to start my career in medicine. This was my first experience of being with someone so ill and eventually dying. She was only 41yrs of age and died within months of being diagnosed. She was so open about how she felt and what gave her the most comfort. Her insights, her humour and her fears along with her many words of wisdom formed a good base as I embarked on my medical training.

It is sad that even after 45yrs only 3% of women can very confidently pick out a symptom 

Carcinoma ovaryIf ovarian cancer but if diagnosed the prognosis has improved considerably. 

The disease is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women and experts fear the lack of awareness may contribute to low survival rates in the UK compared with elsewhere.

Ovarian cancer

We as doctors are increasing our awareness and  vigilance  about investigating women when presenting with suspicious symptoms. We need you to come to us if you have suspicious symptoms.

    image          It  may simply be persistent bloating don’t assume it is Irritable Bowel Syndrome –  GET CHECKED

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Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Training and Advice


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Candace also passed on this video as she found it helpful in describing the feelings she has gone through. It illustrates what anyone goes through when experiencing loss, albeit a serious illness, a bereavement or even the break up of a partnership. I am sure many people will identify with this giraffe and perhaps be able to raise a smile at the end!


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NHS England has ordered an independent taskforce to develop a five-year action plan with the aim of improving cancer survival rates and services.
The taskforce includes cancer specialist doctors, clinicians, patient groups and charity leaders, who will collectively look at ways to improve cancer prevention, first contact with services, diagnosis, treatment and support for those living with and beyond cancer and end of life care.

Early diagnosis of cancer:

The problem UK has relatively poor track record when compared with other European countries. It is estimated there are probably an additional 5-10,000 deaths each year most of which can be attributed to diagnostic delay.

Later diagnosis due to mixture of

  • late presentation by patient (alack awareness)

  •  Late recognition by GP

  • Delays in secondary care

In the last 18 moths new research from the National CANCER Intelligence Network has published the startling findings that in England 25% of cancers are diagnosed as emergencies. The figure rises with age implying that older people with symptoms are less likely to be investigated or referred early. More easily diagnosed cancers such as breast, uterine or melanoma are less likely to present in A&E but more difficult ones such as brain or pancreas are more likely to present in A&E .

58% brain tumours

39% of lung cases

25% colorectal cases

present as emergencies. Older women, women and people from ethnic minorities were more likely to present late.

If if a patient presents to their GP with symptoms we have the facility to refer under a 2 week rule which the patient is informed of at the consultation and an immediate referral is made to secondary care and they are contracted to see the patient within 2 weeks. However, it has been found that under half of current cancers are diagnosed with the 2 week urgent referral system.

For many years we as GP’s have used a risk stratification tool to establish a patient’s risk of a cardiovascular event( heart attack or stroke) and high risk patients are seen and treated and given relevant health education and this has resulted in a significant fall in cardiovascular events. One tool which is started to be used for cancer is QCancer  based on the QResearch database and pioneered at Nottingham university

It is a single tool to look at multiple cancers.

It has asymptomatic based approach but also takes into account risk factors such as age, smoking, alcohol, family history and weight.

90% of patients with cancer present with symptoms

Symptoms that  can be significant 

Key symptoms in model (identified from studies including NICE guidelines 2005)

 coughing up blood  vomiting blood  blood in the urine(painless)

Rectal bleeding  Unexplained bruising  Constipation, cough for >l 3 weeks

Vaginal bleeding (women) after intercourse or after menopause

  Testicular lump (men)  Loss of appetite  Unintentional weight loss

 Indigestion +/- heart burn  Difficulty swallowing

 Abdominal pain or swelling  Breast lump, pain, skin  Night sweats

Neck lump  Urinary symptoms (men)

We have started to use this in the practice and some of you may be aware of being handed a questionnaire in reception if not please ask for one. We will then create a score in the format of Cates Plot and relative risk which is entered in the records.

An example of a result showing an individual’s risk of having a cancer and a further breakdown of the results demonstrates which is the most likely cancer at risk – in this example it is a colorectal cancer. 


If the score suggests  you have a risk of cancer  you will be asked to make an appointment to discuss this to arrange appropriate referral and investigations.

 It will also be updated if new symptoms occur. 

Hopefully during the next 12 months this will be fully integrated into our computer system rather than relying on paper questionnaires so that alerts can be triggered during regular consultations.

The following 12 types of cancer will be considered :-



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Maggie’s – a sanctuary for those with cancer and their families & friends


When someone is given the diagnosis of cancer is has a devastating effect on their lives -facing tough questions, exhausting treatment and difficult emotions. These challenges affect not only those with cancer, but their family and friends, too.

Maggie’s is there for anyone and everyone affected by cancer, offering a programme of support that has been shown to strengthen physical and emotional wellbeing.
Built in the grounds of NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres are places with professional staff on hand to offer the support people need.

The Centres are places to find practical advice about benefits and eating well; places where qualified experts provide emotional support; places to meet other people; places where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.

Maggie’s offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends. Help is offered freely to anyone with any type of cancer. Simply drop-in at any time – you’re always welcome.

Find a Maggie’s centre

These centres are nationwide and there is also an Online Centre offering professional advisors as well as a supportive community – whenever you need them. This unique resource provides the same mixture of practical, emotional and social support as our local Centres.

The nearest centre to the practise is:-
Charing Cross Hospitalimage
Fulham Palace Road
W6 8RF

Tel: 020 7386 1750
Fax: 020 7386 1751

Opening times
Monday to Friday
9am – 5pm (plus some evenings)

Maggie’s London is based at Charing Cross Hospital. The nearest tube station is Hammersmith which is a 10 minute walk up Fulham Palace Road. As you enter the main hospital entrance Maggie’s is the big orange building on the left hand side.

Parking is very limited at Charing Cross Hospital, and visitors are advised to take public transport. There are a number of parking spaces for disabled badge holders, which are free of charge.
By bus

Numbers 74, 190 211, 220, 295, 424 and 430 all stop at Charing Cross Hospital

Who was Maggie?
In May 1993, Maggie Keswick Jencks was told that her breast cancer had returned and was given two to three months to live.

She joined an advanced chemotherapy trial and lived for another 18 months. During that time, she and her husband Charles Jencks worked closely with her medical team, which included oncology nurse, Laura Lee, now Maggie’s Chief Executive, to develop a new approach to cancer care.

In order to live more positively with cancer, Maggie and Charles believed you needed information that would allow you to be an informed participant in your medical treatment, stress-reducing strategies, psychological support and the opportunity to meet other people in similar circumstances in a relaxed domestic atmosphere.

Maggie was determined that “people should not lose the joy of living in the fear of dying” and the day before she died in June 1995, she sat in her garden, face to the sun and said: “Aren’t we lucky?”

In November 1996, the first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh and what Maggie had planned became real.

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Training and Advice


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Mulberry centre

I was talking to one of our patients who has recently been diagnosed and treated for Cancer and I know this has been a very worrying time and it is not only difficult for the patient but can be distressing for the close friends and relatives and I was told how The Mulberry Centre had provided important support during this difficult time.
The Mulberry Centre was opened about 12 years ago with the purpose of providing support and information for anyone affected by cancer, as well as offering practical ways of enhancing physical, psychological and emotional well-being.


Since it has been operational The Mulberry Centre has grown and adapted its services to meet the needs of the people they aim to serve.  As people are living longer with a cancer diagnosis, they recognise that their needs may change over time. They have been able to respond not just the physical manifestation of the disease, but also the emotional and practical impacts on people’s lives.

They aim to deliver a range of information and support services to all people affected by a diagnosis of cancer: to the cancer patient, friends and family, carers and those bereaved by cancer.  Services include complementary and relaxation therapies, ongoing one to one support on a drop-in basis, counselling sessions and support groups, plus a wide range of workshops.  The combination of information, support, self-management and relaxation helps people feel in control; it helps them to make the right decisions to manage both the physical and mental trauma of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Carers are wives, husbands, partners… parents, grandparents… sons, daughters, friends or neighbours…it can be any one of us. We come from all walks of life, cultures, any age; you might not think of yourself as a carer, you might consider yourself as just looking after someone close to you; you are a carer.
Our services are offered free of charge.

Who to contact

Telephone020 8321 6300
Where to go
Name of venue
The Mulberry Centre (West Middlesex Hospital)
Venue address
Twickenham Road
PostcodeTW7 6AF
When is it on?
Session Information Monday to Friday – 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
1st & 3rd Thursday of each month – 10.00 am to 8.00 pm
Mulberry centre

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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Training and Advice


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In October many French country people were busy gathering various types of fungi to dry, bottle or use in their cooking.gathering of edible fungi will resume in the Spring and I shall look forward to gathering Girolles or Chanterelles one of my favourites.

As they have been something I have come across in French life as well as in my studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) I have decided to publish my thoughts and research on this topic.

When I arrived in France back in October the grass in front of the house was covered with an imageabundance of different mushrooms and low and behold I was thrilled to find a cluster of Cèpes (Boletus edulis) outside the back door. They are considered a prize find, an ingredient in various foods. B. edulis is an edible mushroom held in high regard in many cuisines, and is commonly prepared and eaten in soups, pasta, or risotto. As they are so valued anyone owning woodland where cépes are abundance there are signs forbidding people to pick them and French Law would support the proprietor in prosecuting someone found picking mushrooms on their land.

Interdit picking cepes
The French are very secretive about where their mushrooms are located and are even reluctant to tell their close family and there is only one French friend who will allow me to go collecting mushrooms with her.

Cèpes have a distinctive appearance and can be usually recognised easily. However, some mushrooms can be confused with similar poisonous species and if unsure when picking them in France they can be taken to the local Pharmacist who is trained to identify Mushrooms which are edible. The mushroom is low in fat and digestible carbohydrates, and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

imageMany years ago I remember when I was working as a junior paediatrician several children were admitted following eating ‘magic mushrooms’ which grew on the local hillside in Wales.
‘Magic mushrooms’ is a slang word for psilocybe semilanceata or ‘liberty cap’ mushrooms (the most common type of ‘magic mushroom’ in the UK) and contain the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and psilocin. These mushroom, when eaten produce hallucinations and sometimes, can cause disorientation, fatigue,vomiting and can give abdominal pains or diarrhoea. There are records of their use in different parts of the World by many ancient civilisations. When these children were admitted together there was absolute chaos on the ward as they effected the children in different ways. Fortunately, no child had any long term effect.
They are Illegal to use

If you want to know more about the effects of these and also to draw attention an FRANKexcellent website regarding any drug abuse:-

While medicinal mushrooms have been used in China and Japan for more than 3,000 years to boost immunity and fight diseases such as cancer, only in the last decade has their power begun to be recognized in the West. In more scientific terms, a number of compounds in fungi have been found to stimulate the function of the immune system, inhibit tumor growth and boost intestinal flora. Particularly, mushroom substances called terpenoids help kill bacteria and viruses and exert anti-inflammatory effects, while complex chain-like sugars called polysaccharides have been shown to exert antitumor and immuno-stimulating properties. – The Natural Foods Merchandiser, March 2005
Mushroom stallI managed to buy some white Chanterelles ( Cantharellus subalbidus)
from the market carefully gathered by an expert and I carefully prepared them and fried them in crème fraiche, seasoned with garlic and parsley imageas instructed by my expert (stall holders in the market love to advise you how to cook their produce) and served with chicken escalope.
Our ancestors would certainly have eaten them and they would have been gathered by peasants throughout history, with these and truffles, peasant food wasn’t too bad, although of course such food is seasonal with chanterelles being found mainly in the spring and autumn or in imagethe rainy seasons. Traditionally mushrooms particularly chanterelles have been assumed to be aphrodisiacs, with the 11th century Normans in Britain feeding them to grooms at their wedding feasts. The minerals they contain along with the amino acids and vitamins, probably make them good for the libido, especially for men with erectile dysfunctions.
Chanterelles have an affinity with certain trees and particularly birch, beech, oak, and pine in descending order, as they seem to like birch trees best, but they also seem to quite like larch and sweet chestnut trees too. They grow in soil which is damp, but not swampy or marshy ground.
If you go picking them, make sure that you wash them thoroughly and clean the gills. This is best done with a soft toothbrush.
They are great added to soups and stews and go well with eggs, but can be used to accompany any meat dish. Treat them as you would any other mushroom as far as cooking goes. Personally I love them and am always happy when I find them either in woods or in the market as I did this Autumn and the man proceeded to give me a lesson on how mushrooms grow and how important the climatic conditions have to be – the temperature, air pressure, amount of rain and sun and the consistency of the soil and the site where they grow . The spore starts to grow about a metre below ground and a fine filament a couple of millimetres thick grows upwards to the surface and if the conditions are right will form a fungi.image
Like other mushrooms they contain vitamins A and D as well as some of the B-complex ones. They contain all the essential amino acids and glutamic acid is believed to boost the immune system and may help fight cancer, infections and rheumatoid arthritis. There is evidence that it inhibits blood clotting, which is valuable in the fight against heart disease. As for minerals, they contain potassium which regulates blood pressure and the contractions of the heart muscle; copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium which is good for the mood and the brain

Oyster Mushrooms
I wanted to include this mushroom which you will see on the shelves of your local Oyster mushroomsupermarket and has particularly good cholesterol lowering properties.
Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom, is a common edible mushroom. It was first cultivated in Germany as a subsistence measure during World War I and is now grown commercially around the world for food. The oyster mushroom may be considered a medicinal mushroom, since it contains statins such as lovastatin which work to reduce cholesterol.
Pleurotus Ostreatus) is a fleshy, gilled mushroom growing in shelf-like fashion on wood that is a good food and promising medicinal. Protein quality is nearly equal to animal derived protein. Low fat content is mostly of the good unsaturated kind. Also contained are carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins B1, B2, plus minerals, especially iron and an antioxident. This mushroom shows activity against cancer and high cholesterol. It has shown activity in the following areas: antitumor, immune response, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibiotic.

Shiitake Mushrooms 香菇 xiāng gu
The Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries.
Shiitake Fresh and dried shiitake have many uses in the cuisines of East Asia. It is thought that have been used in cooking since pre-historic times in China,Japan and Korea. In Japan, they are served in miso soup, used as the basis for a kind of vegetarian broth, and also as an ingredient in many steamed and simmered dishes.
More information can be found on:-
A 1980 study found that a virus in shiitake mushrooms could produce interferon, effective in treating cancer but also to boost the immune system. When I was studying Chinese herbs (TCM) during the Swine flu epidemic and on the weekend I attended the tutor was very keen to advise us to make a soup to protect us from catching the flu. The tutors claimed that in China that as it was so difficult to vaccinate such large numbers of people instead shops were urged to stock large quantities of the ingredients especially thee Shiitake mushrooms so that every household could make the soup. I will share this recipe with you should you need it in the coming months.
At that time I duly got home and made the soup and emailed to my student children.. No- one caught the flu!

Recipe For Chicken and Mushroom Soup – ideal on coming back from work, after exertion especially to boost the immune system

4 Chicken thighs
2 Onions
12 Garlic Cloves
4 inches Ginger
2 Red Chillies
12 Shitake Mushrooms
5 Stock cubes
2 litres water
Dried Goji Berries soaked in cold water (optional)

Chop onions,garlic and ginger and fry lightly in oil until soft
Fry chicken thighs until golden brown
Chop chillies and mushrooms and add to above
Add water and stock cubes bring to the boil and simmer for 1-1.5hrs.
Before serving add the Goji berries.

WarningWhilst I have written about several types of fungi, which can add a lovely flavour to our food and at the same time have remarkable health benefits please beware of their potential poisonous properties and never pick them unless you are absolutely certain of what they are.

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Training and Advice


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What better way of eating tomatoes but by picking them straight from the vine and immediately devouring them especially when they are grown without any chemical intervention. The next best is slicing them and topping them with fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil, light seasoning and eating them as a starter or snack. image Anyone can grow tomatoes on a windowsill, on a balcony or in a garden and after careful nurturing you also can have that pleasure. When I bought my plants I was advised by an elderly couple who were buying a plant each to put on their windowsill. I was surprised when I ended up with a red variety and a yellow variety. But research showed me that the yellow variety is richer in antioxidants than the red. image Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red colour of many tomatoes. A small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange- and tangerine-colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes. This is because the lycopene in deep red tomatoes is mostly trans-lycopene, and the lycopene in orange/tangerine tomatoes is mostly tetra-cis-lycopene. In a recent study, this tetra-cis form of lycopene turned out to be more efficiently absorbed by the study participants. image

I didn’t realise the antioxidant protection as being important for bone health, but according to a study carried out whereby Lycopene was withdrawn from postmenopausal women’s diet for 4 weeks and after this short period of time there were increased signs of oxidative stress in their bones and unwanted changes in their bone tissue implying that tomato lycopene (and other tomato antioxidants) may have a special role to play in preventing osteoporosis.


Intake of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis. Dietary intake of tomatoes, consumption of tomato extracts, and supplementation with tomato phytonutrients (like lycopene) have all been shown to improve the profile of fats in our bloodstream. Specifically, tomato intake has been shown to result in decreased total cholesterol, decreased LDL cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels. It’s also been shown to decrease accumulation of cholesterol molecules inside of macrophage cells. (Macrophage cells are a type of white blood cell that gets called into action when oxidative stress in the bloodstream gets too high, and the activity of macrophages—including their accumulation of cholesterol—is a prerequisite for development of atherosclerosis.)

imageAnti-Cancer Benefits

Tomatoes have repeatedly been show to provide us with anti-cancer benefits. The track record for tomatoes as a cancer-protective food should not be surprising, since there is a very large amount of research on tomato antioxidants and a more limited but still important amount of research on tomato anti-inflammatory nutrients. Risk for many cancer types starts out with chronic oxidative stress and chronic unwanted inflammation. For this reason, foods that provide us with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support are often foods that show cancer prevention properties.

image Prostate cancer is by far the best-researched type of cancer in relationship to tomato intake. The jury verdict here is clear: tomatoes can definitely help lower risk of prostate cancer in men. One key tomato nutrient that has received special focus in prostate cancer prevention is alpha-tomatine. Alpha-tomatine is a saponin phytonutrient and it’s shown the ability to alter metabolic activity in developing prostate cancer cells. It’s also been shown to trigger programmed cell death (apoptosis) in prostate cancer cells that have already been fully formed. Research on alpha-tomatine has also been conducted for non-small cell lung cancer, with similar findings. Along with prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer are the two best-studied areas involving tomatoes and cancer risk. Research on tomatoes and breast cancer risk has largely focused on the carotenoid lycopene, and there is fairly well documented risk reduction for breast cancer in association with lycopene intake.

In multiple studies other health benefits associated when tomatoes included in the diet include reduced risk of some neurological diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease). Tomato-containing diets have also been linked in a few studies with reduced risk of obesity and age-related macular degeneration.
And it could boost the skins ability to protect itself against UV rays.

I think that covers many of the dreaded diseases we all fear so tomatoes eaten raw or cooked in many different ways are a must in our diet.
That’s why before leaving my garden to return to London I harvested the ripe tomatoes and those I didn’t dry in the sun I roasted in the oven with garlic, fresh basil, seasoning then whizzed the mixture in a food mixer, stored in the freezer to make a sauce ready for soups and sauces to welcome me on my return.

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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Training and Advice


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Spice of life

Sir Michael Caine reveals  he eats turmeric to keep his brain sharp
Screen legend Sir Michael Caine has revealed his secret to keeping a razor-sharp brain – the Indian spice turmeric.
The 80-year-old double Oscar winner says a supplement containing the spice helps him ward off the effects of ageing.

And Caine is grateful to his Indian-born wife of 40 years Shakira for introducing him to its health benefits. Speaking to Hollywood chat show host Larry King backstage after a fundraising event for Alzheimer’s research, Caine said: ‘I am married to an Indian lady and have learned about Indian culture.
‘I looked into what they got and didn’t get. And one of the things they don’t get is Alzheimer’s.
‘They eat a great deal of turmeric in their food. I have been taking turmeric tablets for 30 years and I have a memory like a computer. I remember everything.’
I learnt about the health benefits of turmeric when I studied Chinese herbs but realised it had been imported from India several hundreds of years ago and is now used in traditional Chinese medicine under the name of 姜黄 is also named Jiang Huang ( yellow ginger), Rhizoma Curcumae Longae
Curcuma Longa/Cúrcuma is a small perennial herb native to India bearing many rhizomes on its root system which are the source of its culinary spice known as Turmeric (Cúrcuma – rizoma secco in polvere) and its medicinal extract called Curcumin (Cúrcuma extracto refinado).
The name comes from Arabic kurkum meaning “turmeric
A relative of ginger, turmeric is a perennial plant that grows 5 – 6 feet high in the tropical regions of Southern Asia, with trumpet-shaped, dull yellow flowers. Its roots are bulbs that also produce rhizomes, which then produce stems and roots for new plants. Turmeric is fragrant and has a bitter, somewhat sharp taste. Although it grows in many tropical locations, the majority of turmeric is grown in India, where it is used as a main ingredient in curry.
The roots, or rhizomes and bulbs, are used in medicine and food. They are generally boiled and then dried, turning into the familiar yellow powder. Curcumin, the active ingredient, has antioxidant properties. Other substances in this herb have antioxidant properties as well.
Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its flavor and yellow color. It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese.

The problem with the pill is that it is very insoluble in water.The better way to take it, is to use it in your cooking very extensively. If you have any sauté, just sprinkle it in. The moment you heat oil and add turmeric.
It has a mellow, smoky flavor despite its bright color. It tastes great in sautéed vegetables of all kinds and if you are a meat-eater, you can use it in a rub. You can use as little as one-quarter to one-half teaspoon in your cooking, depending on the dish. But there is nothing wrong with using more in intensely flavored dishes like curry. It makes white rice more digestible and in milk it helps with an upset stomach – several of my Asian patients have shared this with me.


Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds.
Growing evidence suggests that turmeric may afford protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Epidemiological studies show that in elderly Indian populations, among whose diet turmeric is a common spice, levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s are very low. Alzheimer’s disease results when a protein fragment called amyloid-B accumulates in brain cells, producing oxidative stress and inflammation, and forming plaques between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain that disrupt brain function.Turmeric Boosts Amyloid Plaque Clearance in Human Alzheimer’s Patients.In healthy patients, immune cells called macrophages, which engulf and destroy abnormal cells and suspected pathogens, efficiently clear amyloid beta, but macrophage activity is suppressed in Alzheimer’s patients.
I realise that there are conflicting studies and many of the studies have been carried out in test tubes and animals but there a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that this spice has amazing anti-inflammatory,anti-cancer (One of its anti-cancer benefits comes from its ability to induce apoptosis (natural cell death) in cancer cells),anti-thrombotic and prevents build of plaque aswell asother properties shown above. It is a natural painkiller in view of its anti-inflammatory properties it helps in diseases such as asthma, arthritis, colitis,stomach ulcers and can lower blood sugar. Many Asians particularly older generation Asians acknowledge it as the ‘spice of life’
and it’s wide ranging health benefits and anti-ageing properties.
Now turmeric will become an important spice in my kitchen and there will be no mustard left on the side of my plate!

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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Training and Advice


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How can Yew help?

Recently I posted a blog talking about the history of yew and its use in medicine but I didn’t complete the story

This remarkable tree, the Yew in the Central Himalayas, is used as a treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. But western medicine in order to satisfy their criteria had to find a way of isolating the drug from the natural source.
Pacific yew’s bark were first collected in 1962 by researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who were under contract to NCI to find natural products that might cure cancer.
When this was found to be a potential anti-cancer drug there was outcry from the environmentalists including Al Gore as when collecting the bark this led to destruction of the tree.It was then found that the leaves of European yew (Taxus Baccata)were also an appropriate source which is a more renewable source than the bark of the Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia). This ended a point of conflict in the early 1990’s. Docetaxel (another taxane) can then be obtained by semi-synthetic conversion from the precursors.

The precursors of chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel can be derived from the leaves or needles of the European Yew Taxus Baccata

Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug. It is also known by its original brand name, Taxol. The drug is made from the needles of a particular type of yew tree. It works by stopping cancer cells separating into two new cells, so it blocks the growth of the cancer. It is a treatment for various types of cancer, including

Ovarian cancer
Breast cancer
Non small cell lung cancer.
AIDS related Kaposi’s sarcoma
We know that clippings from the Hampton Court Yews have already been used along with those from many other sources to help many hundreds of cancer patients. However it is my opinion that we need to be clear about the exact location of the batches of clipping that are used. At Hampton Court there are also avenues of yews, which are more important a source of origin than a yew hedge or maze. This is because yews in an avenue can be more readily identified as being female or male and, if it is not already becoming apparent in taxol research, it will become increasingly important to separate clippings into their gender origin. At present such attention is not given in the collection of clippings and if gathered from hedges or mazes, which are also to be found at Hampton Court, then the task of establishing gender is extremely difficult as both sexes of the yew grow so close to each other in such environments. Thus the yew avenue offers a better chance of gender selection at the outset and consequently vastly improves further research potential.

But how can you help?
If you or someone you know has a Yew hedge or tree the annual clippings can be used to produce this important anti-cancer medicine. When I lived in Isleworth those of us who had Yew trees/ hedges did this each year.
Lime hurst Ltd offer cut-and-collect service for Yew clippings ( tel : +44(0)1243 555110. )
Limehurst are involved in the harvesting and processing of medicinal & cosmetic plants and have been collecting Yew hedge clippings in the UK since 1992 for use as a cancer treatment.
Another organisation offering similar service is Friendship Estates
Tel:+44(0)1302 700220
Between July and September his company come and collect the clippings of one years hedge growth , which are then used as raw material for the production of ant- cancer drugs


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