Websites Allergic to Providing Email Addresses – How I Detest Contact Forms

Here I am, just 2 days prior to the live publication of Positive Health PH Online Issue 224 on 6 August. One of the tasks I always do prior to publication is to produce an email to be sent to all authors of articles and letters, originators of press releases used in the Brief Takes and Short Features.

Being a generous and conscientious soul (or maybe it should be sole, as I feel stepped on), I search through the tremendous pile of paperwork from the Articles, Letters, Short Features and Brief Takes to create the email to be sent out the day of publication.

However this task is incredibly tedious, and searching for perhaps 50-75 email addresses which may not appear on the published item is not for the faint-hearted.

What infuriates me at this time, when under severe pressure, and at many other times when searching for the email address of a person or organization, is to discover that the relevant website publishes their street address, telephone number and a zillion other details about their organization / people, but NO EMAIL ADDRESS – JUST A CONTACT FORM.

This practice appears to be standard practice across the internet – a plague / allergy against emails. Now as someone who is the recipient of mountains of spam, another current-day plague – I realize that internet engineers prefer to create a form rather than supply an email address as a measure to counter spam email.

But as a serious person who genuinely uses email to contact and correspond with myriads of authors, practitioners, companies, advertisers, in fact the entire universe, I plead with the un-understanding universe to please reverse this insane practice of substituting forms for email addresses.

Frustrating Lack of Progress to Integrated Treatments

While reminiscing about a talk given in 1997, I re-discovered some very revealing images of the current no-Entry Model to alternative therapies, and one with my more idealized recommended model:

We will soon be starting production with Positive Health PH Online Issue 214 with an editorial feature Integrative Healing – Practical Guide to Professionalism which will include an image showing a model of CAM therapies from the NCCAM (National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine). However even this recent model falls short, in my view, of a truly Integrated Medical System – a combined, equal partnership between conventional medical and alternative / complementary treatment model.

Do I feel that the past 25 years of publishing and researching research and clinical progress have been in vain? Not yet, as sometimes progress doesn’t happen in gradually – it suddenly jumps into the present and takes over from then on.

So hopefully we can live in hope.

Why are Alternative Treatments ‘Invisible’ to Patients and Practitioners

Treatment Disparities between Conventional and Alternative Practitioners
I have been actively involved in research and publication of cancer treatment approaches, starting with my initial work setting up the Cancer and Nutrition database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in the early 1990s, following through with my book Nutrition and Cancer: Health State-of-the Art detailing published research from Medline and continuing thereafter with Positive Health PH Online from 1994 to the present. Prior to that I was a molecular biology research scientist attempting to identify plant genes involved in nitrogen fixation, and thereafter the author of two scientifically researched books Organic Germanium: The Life and Health Enhancer and Vitamin C the Master Nutrient.

My motivation in this work has been to communicate natural research and treatment approaches toward the objective of broadening treatment choices for patients suffering with ill health. Positive Health PH Online, now published for almost 20 years, provides an archive of more than 3,000 articles and more than 3,000 research studies across more than 120 subject disciplines, through the entire spectrum of mind-body therapies, alternative therapies such as Ayurvedic Chinese, nutritional and herbal medicine, homeopathy, a multitude of bodywork approaches embracing osteopathy, massage, alexander technique, chiropractic, environmentally related conditions including mercury and electromagnetic toxicity.

Twenty years ago, when not that much was known or published regarding alternative treatment approaches, the sensible remedy was to conduct identify and publish research and disseminate information so that people suffering from complaints ranging from asthma, cancer, heart disease, joint pain and neurological conditions would be able to be treated with a variety of treatment approaches, including natural and non-toxic, as well as orthodox conventional drug treatments and surgery.

It is, to say the least, frustrating that despite the proliferation of information and treatment approaches available online and in texts, that the majority of doctors are still only knowledgeable about and offer conventional treatments. Also, that many patients and their families and carers, despite being aware of alternative treatments, still accept the limited treatment options offered by their doctors.

In my research and discourse with a multitude of practitioners across the discipline spectrum, as well as with patients and their families and carers I have come across many examples where practitioners have been achieving clinical success with specialist techniques, which has not become more generally known to the public and the profession.

Two such practitioners whose work I have recently perused and reviewed are Dental Practitioner Dr Amir who has been having success treating jaw asymmetry Temporo-mandibular Joint Dysfunction TMJ, and  Podiatric Surgeon Dr Brian Rothbart who has researched developed treatments for two previously unrecognized syndromes – Rothbarts Foot and PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity.

Cranio-Dental Symmetry / Temporo-mandibular Joint Dysfunction
Cranio-mandibular and Skeletal Asymmetry is related to disease; common conditions encountered may be neck pain, jaw pain, headaches, backache, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, incontinence, limb pain or numbness, various psychological problems, sinusitis, dizziness, ear problems etc.  Many illnesses including ME/CFS, MS, FM may also have an aetiology of TMJ dysfunction. The ramifications of a dysfunctional jaw are numerous: one patient presented with a massive debilitating tremour previously attributed to “lesions in the descending neural pathways from the brain” but the tremor ceased instantaneously as soon as the patients’ TMJ was corrected. Others have what are called horrendous ‘neuropathic’ pains again attributed to ‘MS’ which even morphine cannot touch but the patients get almost immediate relief by instigating a correction of their bodily asymmetries.

Foot Structural Problems Exert Distant Effects
Dr Rothbart has devoted decades to the research, discovery and treatment of two unrecognized syndromes – Rothbarts Foot and PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity – which undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to a lifetime of crippling pain and suffering in affected individuals, affecting joints and organs throughout the body. These syndromes may cause problems affecting the foot, knee, neck, back, and even more general health conditions, resulting in pain, deteriorating mobility, even crippling disabilities to countless people. Conventional treatment by most doctors for foot, knee, hip and back pain – pain killers, more pain killers and eventually surgery –  frequently exacerbates and eventually reproduces the identical conditions.  Doctors’ lack of knowledge and expertise to identify the underlying causes of patients’ pain, lead instead to more drugs, surgery and agonizing pain.
Dr Rothbart has developed specially constructed Proprioceptive Insoles which over time correct the body’s musculoskeletal structure, which generally results in the diminution, even cessation of pain, ending of the nightmares of pain, and return to a normal life.

Pat Pilkington Death, Cancer Epidemic, Treatment Changes Overdue

I am very sad to report the recent death, aged 84, of Pat Pilkington, much-loved co-founder of Bristol Cancer Help Centre Peace. Pat was inspirational and a pioneer who, with Penny Brohn, helped to transform the acceptability, respectability, and demonstration of efficacy of holistic cancer treatments. Her obituary on PH Online, a respectful tribute, doesn’t begin to do justice to her immense achievements which will continue to be felt among cancer patients for decades to come.

At the time our paths intersected in the early 1990s, I had recently returned to the UK from the USA, had written and had published books about organic germanium and vitamin C. A media debacle, reported and published by Martin Walker in Dirty Medicine, followed a series of ‘witch hunt’ reports intended to discredit the then most respected figures in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. These resulted not only in the ban of organic germanium supplements, a story in its right, but additionally in a television programme and research paper purporting to show that women with cancer attending Bristol Cancer Help Centre (BCHC) for holistic treatments, died earlier than women receiving conventional treatment.[1,2]

The ensuing two decades has unfolded, I was commissioned to create the Cancer and Nutrition Database for BCHC, following which I co-founded in 1994, with my partner Mike Howell, Positive Health magazine and PH Online –
Much water under the bridge – about 20 years, >3000 articles and research updates later, many about cancer, we are currently working on Issue 209, again with a focus upon novel, holistic cancer treatments, including Deuterium Depletion and Mistletoe Therapy and Hyperthermia.
What has changed in the intervening years? When I recently visited my family in Canada, my sister remarked to me “all my friends are getting cancer”; the same is the case with my elderly relatives. Here in the UK, via PH Online and in my ‘spare time’, I have becoming even more involved in attempting to publish information about cancer and its myriad treatment regimens, including nutrition and herbal medicine approaches, immunotherapy, oxygen therapies, information to help cancer patients better inform themselves of the multitude of available tests and treatment approaches.
I don’t feel that integration of cancer treatments into conventional oncology treatment is occurring quickly enough – even at all, and have discussed my understanding of the situation and in the most recent Editorial in issue 208. I am not the only frustrated critic of the inability of conventional oncology professionals to be able to integrate treatments other than the same old, same old regimens, but also acknowledge the hurdles faced regarding the draconian law, the weak evidence base and the lack of organized research about efficacy of more holistic approaches.

There is a deafening roar from the public supporting the adoption of more integrated cancer treatments. This drive, emanating from the information and evidence base available worldwide via the internet, and developments in genetic and molecular biological understanding of cancers, will ultimately prevail, resulting in improved, more humane and person-oriented treatment. That day cannot come soon enough in my view.

1.    Walker M. Dirty Medicine – Science, Big Business and the Assault on Natural Health Care. Slingshot Publications. 1993.
2. Bagenal FS, Easton DF, Harris E, Chilvers CED, McElwain TJ. Survival of patients with breast cancer attending Bristol Cancer Help Centre.Lancet 336: 606 –10. 1990.

Weight Loss >50 lbs – It’s Definitely my Attitude

I had been looking forward to viewing Jacques Peretti’s BBC2 TV documentary The Men Who Made Us Thin, as I appreciated how, in his previous series The Men Who Made Us Fat he examined the historical links between the agrichemical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries and scientific research establishment going back >50 years. He interviewed many of the major nutrition scientists including giants such as John Yudkin who helped to demonstrate the relationship between sugar consumption, increases in tryglycerides, diabetes and weight gain. He also teased out the reasons for fructose becoming such a ubiquitous ingredient in many foodstuffs.

In the documentary The Men Who Made Us Thin, despite interviewing and documenting hugely important and interesting giants of the slimming and weight loss industry, including founders of Slim Fast and Weight Watchers, physicians including the now deceased Dr Robert Atkins and Dr Pierre Dukan, Peretti stuck to his often-repeated conclusion / verdict about the Diet Industry – that it is a con, doomed to failure.

According to Peretti, and he presented innacurately presented statistics to attempt to prove his thesis, dieters are destined to fail. People will initially lose weight if they engage in a program limiting their caloric intake. When, however their weight falls to their normal weight, or if they perceive themselves to be in ‘starvation’ mode, they will eat more to compensate and thereby gain weight. There was a very interesting research study from the 1940s with hundreds of dieters confined to a type of institution, their diet strictly controlled and their metabolisms monitored. They began to suffer psychologically and perceived themselves to be starving that some of them even attempted suicide.

However, Peretti argued that all diets are a con trick; that most people are destined to re-gain the weight they lost – and more – and that the diet is at fault. In a discussion with Daniel Abraham – Founder of Slim Fast and still going strong at age 90, Abraham hit this argument on the head, refuting Peretti’s charge that diets are a con and destined to fail, but stating that it is people’s motivation, their attitudes, their continuing to weigh themselves with scales and attempt to self-monitor their behaviour which will dictate success or failure, not a ‘diet’ substance of regimen per se.

I have lost >50 lbs – >3.5 stone – over the past 2 years. I hadn’t realized how much I weighed as I hadn’t weighed myself over several decades. Granted, my clothes size had gone from size 14 to 18, even 20; it was only when I got on a set of scales and realized what I weighed that I determined to lose weight.

I haven’t used any commercial regime or formula; I analyzed what I had been eating, decided to cut out cakes, muffins and sweets, limit my bread intake to 2 slices of wholemeal toast per day, halve my wine to 1/2 small glass per day and only have 1/2 glass of orange / mango juice in the morning. Other changes involved poached rather than fried egg in the morning. However, overall, I eat normally, still have vegetables, some potatoes, butter on my toast, but gone are the cakes, muffins and sandwiches I used to eat.

It took about 20 years to gain this weight, and it has been very slow to come off, perhaps 1-2 lbs per month; but the result is fantastic. I am now a size 14 and I really like what I see in the mirror.

Like many people, I have experienced diets and weight loss throughout my life and had been subjected to nasty comments during my adolescent and very sporty early life. I am obviously a highly disciplined individual and capable of deferring the transient pleasure of some naughty dessert or other calorific food by forward thinking that I will be upset when I next weigh myself and gain 1-2 lbs. And that I will have to spend weeks getting back to where I was before. So I don’t do it.

But I would never blame failing to lose weight on a faulty recipe or regimen – but on my own lack of control, will power and gluttony.

Weight Loss, PH Storyboards, New Home Page

Still making progress on my monotonous yet strict weight loss regimen. I am quietly thrilled with the results; however having lost about 2.5 stone (35 lbs) and 2 sizes smaller in trousers, tops, even bra size, because I am only 5 ft tall, I am still classified as overweight according to the bmi tables, which only compute height and weight, not muscle. So I continue on and hope to lose another stone and a bit, although at the rate I am losing weight, it is likely to take some time.

My regime is not dramatic; I have mainly cut down on certain things, i.e. 1 slice of wholemeal toast for breakfast with poached egg, only 1 slice of bread with lunch of soup or avocado or tuna with salad. I also have only about 1/2 glass of juice in the morning, and only 1/2 glass of wine with dinner, which is still much the same as always. I don’t have any cakes, muffins, scones, i.e. all the goodies I really liked. Will power is something I am not short of and I am very resolute in not straying from my path. I realize that the result I want each week is to see a downward trend in the weight and am not willing to sacrifice this result for the transient pleasure of a meal or dessert.

My partner who also lost a considerable amount of weight last year, has a totally different psychological makeup to me: he is much more extreme, doing drastic things such as totally cutting out bread and potatoes, eating pilchards for breakfast, even doing limited fasting, eating berries only in the day. But, faced with a family occasion, he falls off the regime totally, drinking lots of wine and indulging in chips and puddings. Well, each to his and her own.

Positive Health PH Online finally, after months of delay and struggle with IT engineers, unveiled our new Home Page. I must announce that this was not my design; the idea of swapping my beloved animated skyscraper adverts on the Home Page for thumbnails of Listings and adverts never crossed my mind. The upgrade has been a massive re-design; all the elements of PH – Front Cover, Articles in Current Issue, Book Reviews – are there; as well are displays of several Course, Events, Products, Clinics and Therapist Listings, which refresh about every 90 seconds. Also displaying are the Animated Topic Banners and Promote Yourself (PY) ads, which also display alongside the slides of the Storyboards.

This last development – the Storyboards – has been to me the most profound revelation of what PH Online has published over almost 20 years. The slides – in pink, blue, light yellow and red – rotate over the line – Click to Open Storyboard List. The List – a selection of topics ranging from colon health, dentistry, sleep, cfs-me, dietary choices, women’s health, meditation, environmental and others – enables readers to select from a drop-down menu and view introduction colour slides for articles, as well as a link to the original article.

Despite that I am one of the Founders of PH, have been the Editor since the beginning of PH and have commissioned and edited all the articles on the site, I have found it inspiring to view the storyboards and realize what an amazing and timeless archive of information spanning the complete spectrum of complementary medicine. The Storyboards merely provide a snapshot of the content of PH Online; however they make the articles more accessible to readers who may be daunted with a subject menu of about 150 topics. I am well pleased with the result and the readers have gone up significantly.

Back to finalizing Issue 200, scheduled to be published 25 Oct.


Dunblane and Positive Health Forever Etched in my Memory

While listening to programmes and interviews prior to this year’s Wimbledon Men’s Final on Sunday 8 July, there were frequent mention of Dunblane and inclusion of children, teachers and coaches of Andy Murray, where Andy Murray grew up and went to school.

Where does this have any connection with Positive Health, you may ask? Well, actually, the memory of Dunblane is forever seared into my memory, and the story is an interesting piece of technological memorabilia from the beginning days of Positive Health, Issue 11 to be exact, the April/May 1996 issue.

Prior to Issue 10, believe it or not, we used a dtp typesetting program and produced text on paste-up boards which were then printed in black and white by our local printers in Bristol. For Issue 10, we used Quark Xpress and still printed the magazine in black and white. And, starting with Issue 11, we switched to Quark Xpress in colour, exported the Quark files, sent them to a pre-press reprographic company who then produced film which was then printed at a larger printer on a web rather than a sheet printer.

13 March 1996 was the very first time I had to export the Quark files and copy them onto floppy disks. I spent several hours throughout the morning, intensely concentrating on the process. Finally, at about 1 pm the driver from the pre-press company arrived to collect the floppy disks. Having been so absorbed in the task, I need to relax and switched on the television at home. These were the very early days of Positive Health, prior to our Queen Square offices in Bristol.

What I saw on the television was the horribly shocking Dunblane massacre. I realized that having spent the entire morning in the world of computer and IT stuff, I had been isolated from the ‘real’ grisly world of murder and mayhem in Dunblane Scotland.

So now, every time I hear Dunblane mentioned, it brings to mind that day of copying the disks from Issue 11 of Positive Health and then discovering about the Dunblane massacre.

So even Andy Murray reaching the finals of Wimbledon brought me back to an early memory of Positive Health.


Lost 2 Stone; The Men Who Made Us Fat

I have found the BBC 2 Series The Men Who Made Us Fat compelling watching; not only is it subversive and clever, but pure evil in revealing the nefarious, greedy and successful but corrupt motives and actions of the agrochemical, advertising, political and international organizations.

Researcher and Presenter Jacques Peretti has gone back to the beginnings, the initial impetus of the obesity epidemic by looking at how surplus corn was transformed into a valuable commodity – high fructose corn syrup and an indispensable ingredient in so much of the energy-dense, junk foods. Scientists and marketing gurus from the era of the 1970s and 19780s report on research revealing that feeding rats and humans with larger portions of junk food and fizzy drink sodas – with huge amounts of sugar – has led to the present obesity epidemic. Also that the cause of gaining weight, as pointed out by John Yudkin decades ago, was sugar and not fat, despite the marketing obsession with low-fat foods.

The genius of marketing has produced super sized and combo meals which has transformed ordinary eating habits into gorging, out-of-control, fat consumers. And the food and nutrition industrial lobbyists have resorted to tactics reminiscent of the tobacco company executives – threatening to withdraw the US funding of the UN if a damaging report was published. A similar lobbying ploy was used to prevent the publication of a report presented to the Labour Party’s Tessa Jowell proposing limiting advertising to children. These reports were never published.

To Positive Health PH Online nutrition readers who have followed articles on the subjects of cholesterol, fat, obesity and junk food, this series won’t be news; however the point is made is elegant fashion.

I have lost 2 stone in weight over the past 6-8 months, having been tricked by my GP into being weighed. When I discovered that I had gained 2-3 stone over the past 20 years, I was shocked. So, never having been a compulsive or excessive eater, I have had to cut down on smaller things: only 1/2 glass of juice in the morning, no fried eggs, just poached eggs, no sandwiches, just 1 slice of wholewheat toast in the morning and 1 slice of bread at lunchtime. Only 1/2 small glass of wine and no muffins, pastries, crumpets or scones. So I have been losing about 1 pound per week, not drastic, but 2 trouser and top sizes. This is fairly motivating. I still want to lose another stone – time will tell.

Organizing Time: Update since Last Blog

Despite thinking every day about really juicy items to post on this blog, this is lamentably the first blog in 2012. How pathetic is that you may ask!!

Well, you know the old adage, excuses, excuses, excuses. Autumn Oct-Dec 2011 was justifiably taken up with my partner and webmaster Mike’s hernia operation in October, and the complications ensuing which resulted in kidney failure due to urological problems caused by his enlarged prostate. The TURP surgery in Dec was eventually successful and by the first few months in 2012, Mike was right as rain.

I have been reading various lengthy cancer books to review and blog about, and haven’t yet had the time to complete these. But I will very soon.

The reality of life, as most of PH Online readers will recognize, is that the multitude of tasks involved in publishing a monthly magazine, with articles, research, press releases, book reviews, a variety of advertisements, social media – Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In – both for me personally as well as for PH,  has meant that the time to work on my personal and PH blogs has never materialized until late at night, when I am too tired to write them.

I speak with many, many people involved in running practices, courses, selling products and putting on workshops, and I recognize that most are similarly running around trying to squeeze 30 hours out of each day. The difficulties facing just about every small business today and the scarcity of funds means that hiring additional staff, renting premises, purchasing all the paraphernalia, committing to phone/ broadband contracts is not usually a viable option. Especially during the past few years when all businesses have had to cut costs in order to survive.

However, here we are, about to publish Issue 195 of Positive Health PH Online. As the saying goes, we are leaner in all aspects of our operation. All we need to really grow the money is advertising expansion internationally, either through partners in varying countries or investors with the infrastructure to realize how international PH actually is.

My latest venture to make my life easier is to unsubscribe from numerous emails I receive daily. It is staggering that if I leave my office for even 30 minutes there are generally 30-50 emails waiting upon my return. For the past few days, although this is taking a bit of extra time, I am clicking on the unsubscribe link, hoping that this will result in me having to spend less time deleting all the unnecessary emails from my inbox.

Hopefully my next blog won’t have such a large gap.

More About Dirty Medicine The Handbook

It is fitting that I have been reading this book in parallel with revelations about the Rupert Murdoch News of the World / News International phone voicemail interception / hacking scandal which has riveted much of the UK, and to some extent the USA. The exposes have revealed murky, entangled webs enveloping politics, print media, broadcasting and which has spread to the police, involving corruption among many previously respected professionals. The sums of money involved, the wining and dining, the political patronage and how social networking sites can overturn super injunctions protecting rich sportspeople and celebrities have all created a firestorm revealing the public’s insatiable thirst for gossip and the no-limit means to satisfy it used by journalists and proprietors. Continue reading