Alternative-medicine

The Access Bars: A New Cure For Depression And Anxiety?

I went in not knowing what to expect – and came out not knowing what to think.

Has Belle Gibson Been Caught Out Lying Again?

Just when you thought disgraced health entrepreneur Belle Gibson couldn’t land herself in anymore hot water, the 23-year-old’s mum has come forward and called her bluff – again.

RELATED: Belle Gibson’s Fall From Grace

Talking to the The Australian Women’s Weekly, Gibson’s mother Natalie said she wanted to “set the record straight” after the former health guru blamed her “troubled childhood” for her problems in sorting fact from fiction.

Slamming Gibson’s family troubles as “a load of rubbish,” she said: “Her brother is not autistic and she’s barely done a minute’s housework in her life. I’ve practically worked myself into an early grave to give that girl everything she wanted in life.

“I just couldn’t sit by and let her say these things about her family.”

Gibson, who last month confessed to lying about having cancer and building her The Whole Pantry empire off the back of a false story, tried to pardon herself with the tale of growing up without parental guidance. “It was my responsibility to do grocery shopping, do the washing, arrange medical appointments and pick up my brother. I didn’t have any toys,” she recently told the Women’s Weekly.

“I think my life has just got so many complexities around it and within it, that it’s just easier to assume [I’m lying].”

Well, her mum Natalie is calling bullshit and told the magazine that the 23-year-old needed to apologise for her actions and spend a good part of her life repaying her debts and doing volunteer work. “She’s got to look inside her own soul. The only way she is going to get forgiveness is to stop playing the victim card and spend the next few years doing nothing but charity work for cancer victims.”

While Belle still hasn’t issued an official apology, because let’s face it – “respectfully coming to the table” and asking  “to heal and grow” is far from a sincere sorry, her mother has stepped up to offer condolences. “I can’t tell you how embarrassed we are about what she has done. And we sincerely wish to apologise for anyone who was deceived by Belle.”

What happens now is anyone’s guess. Will Gibson respond to her mother’s claims? Will she finally take full responsibility for her actions and try and make amends? Or is it too little too late?

What do you think?

Image via Daily Mail

Alternative Medicine: Is It Time for a Crackdown?

Unless you’ve been on digital hiatus lately, you would have seen the torrent of articles about health stars in the news. From allegations against The Whole Pantry app founder and alternative medicine advocate Belle Gibson to Paleo pin-up Pete Evans, there’s been no escaping these explosive stories.

RELATED: Five New Fitness Trends

Given the increasing frequency of reports of fraud and false claims by social media stars in the health industry, we ask: is it time for a crackdown? Should we reconsider who we ‘follow’?

Why now?

There’s never been an easier time for people to share their views to a mass audience. Shura Ford, founder of natural health clinic Ford Wellness Group, says social media is one of the biggest platforms for creating new health stars, which poses a potential problem. “[Social media] is global and its popularity is dependant on what resonates with the public, not with what is most credible,” she tells SHESAID.

Ford’s Melbourne-based clinic employs both traditional and non-traditional medical experts, ranging from GPs and psychologists to herbalists and kinesiologists. She says all professionals must be qualified and registered with their respective associations, or they can’t practice. In the digital realm however, it’s a different matter.

Belle Gibson, founder of The Whole Pantry app, cultivated an Instagram following of over 200,000 people around the world thanks to her message of ‘clean’ eating and natural therapies, including Ayervedic treatments and oxygen therapy. Gibson, whose cancer claims are currently under investigation, has sparked outrage about how a 26-year-old was able to give advise to so many people, with so few health qualifications.

“While I’m all for people becoming self empowered to look after themselves, taking advice  from someone who isn’t adequately trained nor qualified can be very damaging for that person’s health- not to mention costly,” says Rebecca Warren, lecturer of nutritional medicine at Endeavour College of Natural Health.

Ford agrees, adding, “the unfortunate situation is that there is no recourse of action for unqualified advice and it’s difficult for the public to know what is accurate or correct.”

So, what’s to stop anyone launching a site, gathering a social following and giving advise to an audience of thousands? Nothing.

Alternative medicine, health,  paleo diet, social media

What’s the danger?

When celebrity chef Pete Evans prepared to launch his new cookbook Bubba Yum Yum- The Paleo Way for New Mums, Babies and Toddlers, this year, he had no idea about the backlash it would spark.

“In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” the president of the Public Health Association of Australia, Professor Heather Yeatman, told the Australian Women’s Weekly.

Evans, a well-known TV host, chef and cookbook author, came under fire for a Paleo recipe in his new book, which suggested serving bone broth to a young child in place of formula. Despite Pan Macmillan refusing to publish the book, Evans has announced plans to self-publish it, relying on his strong social and digital following to support the venture.

Similarly, Gibson was able to use her reach as a social media sensation to spread information about her experience with using natural therapies for healing. “If you Google ‘natural cancer cure,’ more than 50 million searches claim to have your answer in the form of a herb, fruit, vegetable or tonic!” says accredited practicing dietitian Larina Robinson. “It’s just not that simple.”

“It’s sad because both women [Belle Gibson and Jess Ainscough] have inspired others to take control of their health and wellness with a sense of optimism,” says Ford, who admits she’s disappointed by the negativity shown toward natural medicine as a result of recent press.

“But I do agree with the concern that there may be others who were impressionable and vulnerable to persuasion,” she says. “They may have decided to forgo conventional treatment without being fully informed because they believed so strongly in the ideology of their health heroes.”

Rebecca Warren says she often sees health bloggers advocating ways of eating that aren’t as simple as ‘one size fits all.’ “Many of these bloggers just tell people to stay off gluten and dairy and everything will be fine. This might be true for some people, but if you don’t have a closer look, something really big may be missed.”

Alternative medicine, health,  paleo diet, social media

Who is the Watchdog?

Countless comments bombarded The Whole Pantry’s Facebook page prior to it being taken down, demanding refunds and asking how a potential lie could spiral out of control. “How can people get away with this? Doesn’t someone monitor these kind of claims?” one user posted.

Indeed, it’s a question that many angry followers of The Whole Pantry and Belle Gibson have been asking. Some followers even turned to magazines such as ELLE and Cosmopolitan, who both supported Gibson with inspirational features and even awards.

“When people are distributing irresponsible or harmful advice they should be held accountable,” says Ford. “Whilst the public need to take responsibility for their own health choices, impressionable and vulnerable followers need to be protected.”

Getting back to basics

Both Ford and Robinson agree that recent controversy shouldn’t deter people from alternative medicine and therapies, but should teach us to be more vigilant about where, and from whom, we source information from. “Eating the Paleo diet, despite its poor scientific background for it’s existence, can actually provide a nutrient rich platform for wholefood eating,” says Robinson, who believes stories such as Evans’ push extreme cases, and shouldn’t cast a shadow on wholefood eating.

Ford says the key is to seek professional advice, not the voice from the device in your hand. “Professional practitioners are accountable for what they say and recommend, they have to abide by ethical standards,” she explains. “The average blogger doesn’t have that level of accountability.”

Warren believes we need to be more vigilant about checking the qualifications of health bloggers we follow. “A bachelor degree is a minimum. And not just any degree – it needs to be in the area that they are talking about,” she says, explaining that specific subject degree means that person has undertaken a “rigorous level of education,” which usually takes three to four years.

The key lesson they agree on? As our digital presence and consumption changes, so too does our need to be more alert and aware. We need to be able to discern between voices we can trust, and those we can’t. Those health ‘gurus’ who fill your feed with nutrition advice and diet recipes? It might be time to hit ‘unfollow.’

Images via ELLE magazine, Nine News, The Australian. 

Benefits Of Foot Reflexology

Did you know that certain reflexes found in the foot can help to stabilise the entire body?

Used for centuries all over the world, foot reflexology is a popular way to de-stress and improve circulation. Whether you are suffering from a nasty headache, experiencing monthly back pain, or simply in need of a de-stressing exercise, here are a few ways foot reflexology can help you out.

RELATED: The Guide To Acupressure For Stress Relief

How does it work?

Most therapists focus on stimulating the solar plexus which stores all of our excess stress. Once this sacred area is relaxed, then the entire body enters a serene state which seeks to eliminate all forms for stress.

When pressure is applied onto certain areas of the foot such as the heels are lower arch, this has a significant effect on the solar plexus. You will start to notice that stress levels have decreased, and your heart rate is beating a slower, more consistent level.

Circulation

As with all massage techniques, applying a certain amount of pressure onto one area of the body can help to improve bad circulation. This will help to clear the path inside the blood stream, and will better support the proper function of healthy tissues and organs. Massaging the feet holds great health benefits since there are so many nerves linked into this central location.

Pain management

Did you know that applying more pressure to the feet can decrease the amount of pain the rest of your body can feel? A rush of endorphins are released which help to minimise pain signals to the brain, and as a result, brings about a relaxing sensation. Next time you are experiencing a bad cramp or stomach ache, try massaging the area just below the arch of your feet to relax the entire body.

Techniques

If you want to try a few of these stress relieving techniques at home, start with these simple exercises which will surely make you feel better:

Thumb walking

A popular technique which helps to a tense feeling in the entire body. Use both hands to relax the foot, and then simply rub your thumb down the inside of both feet. This should take place from the tip of the big toe, down the length of your foot until you hit the heel.

Stroke

To improve your overall circulation, stroke the bottom of your foot with each thumb. This should be a short, fluid action which firmly applies pressure on the base of your foot. Once you reach the toes, apply less pressure since the tendons around this area are more sensitive.

Tips

Before embarking on your own foot reflexology, make sure to review some of our beginners tips which will help make the process so much more effective.

  • Drink as much water as you can before and after each massage. This will help to remove any nasties from your system, and can improve circulation.
  • Use a light oil to make the massage feel better. Never massage dry feet since the exercises won’t feel as effective, and it will only make your feet feel dry! Coconut oil is a great choice since it’s inexpensive, and melts quickly between your fingers.
  • Start off slow by massaging the top and base of your feet. Don’t apply too much pressure to areas which you’re unsure about. Even just massaging your toes, heels, and arch are enough to relax your entire body.

Image via Acupressure

Does Aromatherapy Actually Work?

Aromatherapy has been used for hundreds of years as an alternative medicine which boasts relief against stress, anxiety, general aches and pains all through the use of various scents.

But how does this age-old treatment work, and how can you use it at home?

RELATED: 5 Facial Mists For Hydrated Skin

How does aromatherapy work?

This is the question which many people find baffling: how can just one scent change the way your body feels from the inside? Sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it?

For many of years aromatherapy has been explained to stimulate the delicate receptors in the nose, then this sends a message through to the nervous system which reaches the brain. At this point, the brain declares whether this is a good or bad scent; if it is good, it can ultimately have a relaxing effect on the entire mind and body.

What are some popular scents?

If you want to try this out for yourself at home, first read our list of some popular scents and what they’re used for in aromatherapy. This will give you a better understanding of how everything actually works:

1. Lavender

Ideal for: stress

This is probably the most popular oil used in aromatherapy, mainly because of its calming effects. Sniffing anything with lavender is scientifically proven to decrease stress levels, even if you don’t actually like the smell in the first place!

2. Patchouli

Ideal for: antidepressant

Patchouli is a naturally uplifting oil which is used for a few different conditions. One of the most popular ways to use it is for people suffering from depression. The scent helps to release pleasure hormones such as seratonin and dopamine, which relieves sad or angry feelings.

3. Tea Tree

Ideal for: colds, antibacterial

While tea tree is mostly known for its antibacterial properties, it also has a calming effect when used in aromatherapy. The uplifting scent is perfect for those suffering from a chest cold or nasty cough. Rub gently over the chest to clear out the lungs, and leave your body with a sweet scent all day long.

4. Franklincense

Ideal for: spiritual

Used for centuries in the Middle East for a emotional and spiritual connection with a higher being, it is still used today during prayers. The gentle scent is also massaged into joints to alleviate aches and pain associated with arthritis.

Is aromatherapy scientifically proven?

While most essential oils are used to decease levels of stress, anxiety, and aches in the body, not much has actually been proven otherwise. Don’t count on this type of alternative medicine to permanently decrease a high blood pressure count, increased heart rate, or even chronic disorders. They can be used for extended periods of time to help relieve these symptoms, but aren’t strong enough to actually cure any long-term conditions.

Have you ever used essential oils? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Image via Wellness Today

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