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Friday, October 16, 2009

Stretch out

Hit the ground running this autumn and enjoy the high-energy hit: 8, 9


GP who wants her daughters to get HPV vaccine: 4

SHELF LIFE Top beauty blog goes to print: 11

HALLOWEEN BITES Eight barm bracks put to the taste test: 12




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Scientists have issued warnings about the dangers of AHAs commonly used in face creams. Arlene Harris reports Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON RUNWAY FOR RESEARCH: On October 22, models will take to the runway for Breast Cancer Research in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island, Cork. Tickets cost F30 and all proceeds go to breast cancer research at Cork Cancer Research Centre which conducts studies with breast cancer clinicians in South Infirmary-Victoria University Hospital and Cork University Hospital. Contact 021-4901437 or see AYURVEDA TALK: GP and ayurvedic practitioner Dr Donn Brennan will give a talk about preventing illness and restoring health with ayurveda on Thursday next, October 22 at 7.30pm in the Midleton Park Hotel, admission F10. Contact 01-2845742 or visit MIND YOUR BACK: The Lismore Clinic in Co Waterford will be holding a Back Care Open Day this Sunday, October 18, from 2pm to 6pm. Practitioners will be on hand to answer questions, and free back assessments will be available. Contact 058-53200. GAME PLAYING DAY: Primary schools across the country are invited to register for Ireland’s Game Playing Day on Friday, October 23. Schools are being asked to allow children to bring F2 along with their favourite board games to play during class on the last day of school term. The funds raised can be used by the school itself or donated to charity. Organised by games manufacturer Hasbro, more information is available from, 01-6613533, or ENDOMETRIOSIS SUPPORT: The support group meeting of the Endometriosis Association of Ireland takes place at the Drawing Room Club House Hotel, Patrick St, Kilkenny on Saturday, October 17 from 2pm. Friends or family members welcome. Contact,, or 086-3203855. YOGA CLASSES: Hatha Yoga classes at Liberty House, Liberty St, Cork start on Monday, October 19 with beginners; Intermediate on Tuesday. F100 for eight weeks. Call 086-2486499. Yoga classes at Bru Columbanus, Wilton start on Tuesday next, October 20 at 6.30pm and 8pm, F75 for six weeks. Pregnancy yoga at 5pm, F85. Call Deirdre on 087-9621738. Francesca Giusti will teach a yoga workshop on Sunday, October 18 from 10.30am to 1pm at Unity Yoga, Patrick’s Hill, Cork, F30. Call 086-3014428. A 12-week beginners power vinyasa course starts at Yoga Republic, Douglas St, Cork, on Wednesday, October 21 at 5pm, F200. See or contact 087-6560254. Items for inclusion in this column can be sent to


Anti-age alert

OR centuries, women have been trying to hold back the ravages of time — lotions, potions, pills and even surgery has been tried and tested in the battle against Mother Nature. But now, one of the most widely used remedies — AHAs or alpha-hydroxy acids — has been put under the spotlight as scientists warn against the dangers of anti-ageing creams. A report from the US-based Cancer Prevention Coalition claims that use of AHA creams could expose the skin to dangerous toxins and make it more susceptible to sun damage. Chairman of the coalition, Professor Sam Epstein, says the popular ingredient AHA is: “Probably the most dangerous cosmetic product on the market” and when exposed to the sun users could suffer from swelling and severe pain. He also added that AHAs could cause skin cancer as they are a “well-known carcinogenic”. However, Norma Cronin — health promotion manager with the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) says exposure to the sun (and tanning machines) is the most proven cause of skin cancer in this country. “There are over 7,000 cases of skin cancer in Ireland each year and up to 90% of those are caused by the harmful rays of the sun,” she says. “If people are worried about their skin ageing, they should stay

SKIN CARE: Reports claim the use of AHA creams could expose the skin the dangerous toxins and make it more susceptible to sun damage. Picture:iStock

out of the sun and wear a face cream with UV protection all year round.” Consultant dermatologist, Dr Rosemary Coleman adds that overuse of AHAs can also be detrimental to the skin. “While I am not aware of any study which has proven that the use of retinol and glycolic acid (compounds of AHAs) on the skin is dangerous, overuse can obviously cause problems for some people,” she says. “It all depends on your skin type. The best anti-ageing regime of all is total protection from the sun — no amount of product will protect your skin from ageing if you don’t use sun block every day.” Dr Patrick Treacy, chairman of the Irish Association of Cosmetic Doctors said: “AHAs are very popular in Ireland because they can diminish facial lines, smooth texture and remove skin sallowness and uneven pigmentation. “This effect is dose dependent and the amount of glycolic acid that can be sold across the counter is strictly limited. But consumers should be aware of the risks and products should stipulate the percentage of AHA and advise people to wear sun protection at the same time.” If you’re concerned about your face creams check with your pharmacist or GP. ■ For more information call the ICS helpline 1800-200700 or

HEALTH NOTES ISSUES of importance for people with Down syndrome will be on the agenda for Down Syndrome Ireland’s new spokespersons — David O’Brien from Glasnevin, Michael Gannon from Kildare and Aimee Richardson from Killiney. They will represent the organisation and other adults with the condition, when it comes to communicating with media, employers, politicians, schools and members of the public. The lack of third-level education opportunities for people with Down syndrome, as well as issues to do with independent living and employment will be among areas they will discuss.

YOU might think medical devices are only found in hospitals but common bathroom cabinet items such as contact lenses and solutions, thermometers, pregnancy test kits and even plasters are all considered medical devices. Now a set of leaflets, aimed at helping the general public ensure they’re using medical devices safely and correctly, has been launched by the Irish Medicines Board. The leaflets are available free to download on Orders can also be sent to TOOTH decay is higher among Irish children than among their British counterparts, with one in five eight-year-olds and half of 12-year-olds experiencing decay in their permanent teeth, while a staggering three in four 15-year-olds have encountered the problem. Dr Carmel Parnell, a leading researcher on oral health, told the Annual

NEW ROLES: The new spokespersons for Down Syndrome Ireland (l-r): David O’Brien, Glasnevin, Dublin, Michael Gannon, Kildare, Amy Richardson, Killiney, Dublin. Picture: John

Ohle Photography

Seminar of the Public Dental Surgeons Group that “a substantial proportion of children at five, 12 and 15 years of age have experienced decay in five teeth or more”. She advised good dietary habits, including limiting the amount of sweet foods and drinks consumed, and — in the case of very small children — warned parents never to put sweet drinks, including juice, into a bottle and never let a child sleep or nap with a bottle or feeding cup.

THE Cork branch of the Dyslexia Association will hold its AGM at Scoil Mhuire Ju-

nior School, Cork on Monday, October 19. The meeting, which is expected to last about an hour, begins at 6.30pm.

Down Syndrome Ireland has appointed five of its members as new spokespersons for the organisation. David O’Brien, Glasnevin, Michael Gannon, Kildare, Amy Richardson, Killiney undertook a six- month training programme — run by Down Syndrome Ireland and part funded by Boyne Valley Honey — that included public speaking, citizenship, self-awareness and general presentation skills. Helen O’Callaghan EDITORIAL: Irene Feighan 021-4802292 ADVERTISING: Niamh Kelly 021-4802215






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Mary O’Connor

Leading lady CORK Ladies’ Football captain Mary O’Connor, 32, says the team are still in fantastic form and “on a high” after their one-point victory over Dublin in this year’s all-Ireland final. “But I don’t think the magnitude of our success and of what it means to win five-in-a-row has really hit us yet. It may even be a few years before we look back and fully realise it. “The players have been having club games since the all-Ireland but we’ve been meeting up at weekends and going to different parts of the county with the cup, so we’re constantly re-living it and it’ll be that way for a while.” She played centre-back in this year’s camogie All-Ireland final, winning her seventh all-Ireland medal. One of a family of nine — she has six brothers and two sisters — Mary is single and recently built a house in her native Killeagh in east Cork. She works as a camogie development officer. What shape are you in? I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve been doing high-level training five nights a week for the last nine months. But that’s going to change because I’m going to take a break now from training. Do you have any health concerns? None at all — my health really is my wealth. The Tuesday after the camogie final I developed a bit of a sore throat and a bit of flu so I had to frantically try to get rid of it before the football came around. What are your healthiest eating habits? I’d always have at least two litres of water a day, up to three if I’m training. I eat a lot of fruit. I live by the rule of five a day. I don’t take butter, mayonnaise or sauces of any kind. In November and December, I allow myself to have the odd treat but I stay away from things that are known to be bad for you. What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Chocolate’s my biggest vice followed by the odd can of coke. I’m partial to the stimulant it provides but it’s on the banned list ’til November when training finishes. What would keep you awake at night? I recently built a house, so for the last few months what needs to be done there has been keeping me awake. When I’ve got a big game on the horizon, that’d keep me awake — I’d be visualising the game and what has to be done on the day.


The smell of a new hurley. Once you use it, that smell quickly goes. It’s a smell that invokes memories of when I was a child in Killeagh, going into the late Sonny McCarthy’s shed — he used to make hurleys. It was great, getting a new hurley and that smell of the ash and knowing this was your own hurley — that was the treat in the 1980s when I was growing up.

Healing with the energy of Angels Integrated Energy erapy is fun and easy to learn. It is a powerful selfhealing technique and can be used to facilitate the treatment of clients. IET can be used as a stand-alone therapy technique or incorporated as a powerful addition to other techniques such as Reiki and erapeutic Massage. Each of our IET training classes are powerful days of self-healing and energy therapy certification training. In our 3 day training programme you will:

● Be attuned to a powerful angelic energy ray that opens your energy field ● ● ●

What trait do you least like in others? Tardiness — being late. What trait do you least like in yourself? I tend to be impulsive and can act without thinking sometimes. Do you pray? Yes, every week — my mum and dad instilled faith in us and now I have faith and attend mass every week. What would cheer up your day? Random acts of kindness — seeing a young fellow picking up a woman’s shopping bag and bringing it to her car for her. Helen O’Callaghan

REBEL SPIRIT: Mary with the All-Ireland ladies’ football cup.

Picture:Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

to the power of Integrated Energy erapy and expands and realigns your spiritual DNA. Learn to access and channel the energy of angels and use their energy for healing through a simple yet powerful process that we call a Heartlink. Learn how each primary human emotion is correlated to a specific physical region of the body, as well as to use the IET integration power point to clear them. Learn the pullout-release technique that will turn your hands into “energy magnets” allowing you to easily clear harmful energy imprints from the human energy field. As part of this training, you will be taught to feel and interpret energy blockages and identify the level (physical, emotional, mental, or karmic) in which the energy blockages occur.

Fully illustrated training guide and certificate provided with each class. No prior energy therapy experience needed. Our Integrated Energy erapy training classes consist of a 3 day training programme that can be taken 3 days in a row or spread out over a few COURSE SCHEDULES & CLASS FEES Integrated Energy Therapy Basic Level 31st October 2009 €170 Integrated Energy Therapy Intermediate Level 1st November 2009 €190 Integrated Energy Therapy Advanced Level 2nd November 2009 €190 Integrated Energy Therapy Basic Level 21st November 2009 €170 22nd November 2009 €190 Integrated Energy Therapy Intermediate Level Integrated Energy Therapy Advanced Level 28th November 2009 €190 Option 1. Basic and Intermediate Levels: €330.00 Option 2. Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Levels: €510.00 One on one IET healing treatments also available. All courses are held in FARRAN, CO. CORK. Fees include all course materials, course manuals, certificates, lunch & refreshments. For more information or to book your place, log on to our web site:


087 7926078


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How do you relax? I like to go for walks and listen to music. I also like hanging out with my family, relaxing and having a laugh with them. Family’s very big for me. When did you last cry? In 2007, when I got a bad enough knee injury. It meant I was going to miss the final I’d been training for all year. It was huge then — now I wonder what was I crying about? What would you change about your appearance? Apart from the wrinkles, I’d like to be a few inches taller — I’m 5ft 6in. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Ryan Giggs, Barack Obama and Bobby Charlton — I’m a big Manchester United fan. What’s your favourite smell?





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Price of health


T’S DIFFICULT to know what to do about the HPV vaccine. On the one hand, we know it’s definitely protective against cervical cancer. Other countries are providing it free in schools — the US gives it out to primary girls. Britain offers it on the NHS. France, Greece, even Romania are vaccinating girls against HPV. Mary Harney refused to sanction public funds for vaccination, but it can be obtained privately. It costs at least F250 and you have to get three shots. That’s an awful lot of money for most families, and that’s before you have to sit down and figure out if the vaccine effective in the long run (doctors still don’t know) and if protect against all sexually transmitted HPV viruses (doctors fear there may be strains that the vaccine doesn’t protect against.) And, you’ve got to decide whether or not your daughter should get the vaccine at 12, like in the US, 14 in France or if you can even face having the conversation about STDs with her in the first place. At least 80% of women who have had sex will pick up some form of the HPV virus. Warts are common. We pass them round very easily. Removing warts from fingers, feet, penises and cervices is one of the commonest jobs that doctors do. So, from the point of view of the speculum, it’s a no brainer. Get rid of the warts. Get the vaccine. Even if it costs. The price of having those annual smears, and having cervical warts treated is so horrible and humiliating, that it’s well worth the price. Except that it’s a hefty price to pay. And in the absence of a national vaccination programme that’s been driven by public health, a lot of parents are wondering if the vaccine is necessary at all once condoms are being used to prevent warts? And then there are safety issues. What about Natalie Morton, the 14-year-old who died following HPV vaccination in Britain? Why would I want to inject my healthy daughter with something that might kill her — isn’t this all just a racket by the pharmaceutical companies? A lot of doctors in America are now questioning whether or not the vaccine is being over-sold. Most vaccines come with a list of possible reactions — anything from pain at the point of injection to complete anaphylactic shock. Every doctor and nurse must have special training and an emergency kit with them when they administer a vaccine. We don’t vaccinate people unless there’s a good reason to do so. Other developed countries are vaccinating all primary girls for HPV. And the truth about poor Natalie Morton is that she seems to have had an underlying medical condition and that the cause of her death is not thought to be related to the vaccine, although it will be reported as a vaccine-associated death. On the other hand, when Jade Goody died, everyone was horrified. Public, tragic deaths like these make arguments about health economics very difficult to understand. If a vaccine prevents one death, isn’t it worth it? If a vaccine costs F10 million a year, but it saves 10 lives, isn’t it worth it? And the life of a young woman with cancer isn’t just her life — it’s the life of her husband, kids, parents, lovers, sisters, brothers and friends. Vaccinations aren’t for everyone. Some vaccines aim for “herd immunity“, to elim-


Dr Juliet Bressan a mother of two girls says the benefits of immunising against cervical cancer would far outweigh the costs inate the disease (like polio) or at least prevent its spread, and we do this with very serious, common illnesses like measles where there’s an identifiable at-risk group (small babies and children). But when one doctor published a misleading paper saying he believed that autism was called by the MMR vaccine, it was enough to put vast numbers of people off. As a result, we got a massive measles outbreak. And some children died. HPV is a virus that causes penile warts. If you’ve been exposed to HPV, through having sex with someone who carried this virus or who had actual warts, you are at increased risk of cervical cancer in your 30s and 40s. These are scientifically established facts. But statistics say that 80% of women have been exposed to HPV. And clearly they don’t all develop cancer. But the age standardised rate of cervical cancer is about 10 cases per 100,000 of the population per year. That’s about 10 women getting a new cervical cancer every year in Galway. About five in Waterford. About 200 in Dublin and about 20 in Cork. So it’s a real risk. It’s a risk you don’t really want to take. We’ve known for decades that cancer of the cervix is associated with having sex. Some people suggest that by offering a

HPV vaccine in primary school, you are encouraging girls to become promiscuous. But what is the alternative? Tell your kids that when they grow up they’re not to have sex in case they might have an outside chance of getting cancer in their 40s? We’ve always vaccinated babies and young girls for rubella, even though they are a long way off getting pregnant. This isn’t to protect the girls. It’s to protect their future babies. But we do it very happily because everybody wants to protect babies, even if they haven’t yet been born. We don’t worry that giving a toddler a rubella vaccine will encourage her to become promiscuous, to get pregnant at 14, or to have no regard for contraception. We give it to protect future generations of women and men, and it makes absolute good sense to do so. Rubella vaccine is given free, and rightly so. And adult women in their 30s and 40s deserve to be protected from cancer just as much as babies who don’t even exist need to be protected from deafness. Some vaccines are only worthwhile giving to the “at-risk” group, because of the way in which the infection is spread. So, in Ireland, unlike many other countries, we don’t give hepatitis B vaccine which prevents a certain form of liver cancer, routinely to everyone. But we do offer it free to gay men, prosti-

FAMILY TIES: Dr Juliet Bressan with her daughters Jessica, 17 on left and Molly, 20. Picture:Billy Higgins


tutes, drug users and health workers — people who are more at risk of hep B and liver cancer otherwise. For HPV, to get herd immunity you’d really need to immunise boys, the carriers of the virus. But instead, they are going for targeting the at-risk group — women who might contract the disease. It won’t eliminate the wart virus. But it will mean there might be fewer cancer deaths. In Ireland, one of the biggest at-risk groups for cervical cancer would probably be women in prostitution — but so far, the HSE hasn’t even bought the vaccine for its Women’s Project, a special STD health service for sex-workers. The whole purpose of the Women’s Project is to help women in the sex industry to avoid STDs. But they aren’t getting the HPV vaccine because the HSE can’t pay for it. On the other hand, the Gay Men’s Health Project vaccinates all its patients against Hepatitis B, and always has done. At the very least, having a HPV vaccine should reduce the numbers of false positive smear tests we get. It should reduce the numbers of colposcopy appointments, reduce the numbers of amputations of cervix we have to do and reduce the numbers of warts we have to treat. And at best, it should reduce the numbers of cancer deaths. I think teenage girls have enough to worry about nowadays. There’s enough pressure on parents besides having to worry about paying for an expensive vaccine. We should be offering this vaccine free to young girls in schools, just like the rest of Europe does. My daughter is doing her Leaving Cert this year, my other daughter’s at college. Teenagers and students have enough to worry about with the recent hike in college fees, the high cost of living, lack of jobs and huge pressure of exams. I’m in favour of my daughters getting the vaccination. I’d like to know that cervical cancer is one thing my daughters won’t have to worry about as well.

I’m in favour of my daughters getting the vaccination. I’d like to know that cervical cancer is one thing my daughters won’t have to worry about




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Paintings and familiar images cast a new perspective on healing, reports Helen O’ Callaghan

Medicine with heart W

HEN Dublin-based GP Dr Austin O’Carroll first moved into his inner-city practice, things went missing. “There was a lot of theft — prescriptions being stolen, phones, wallets, even toilet rolls. So we did up the place,” recalls Dr O’Carroll, who, as part of the revamp, hung 40 pieces of artwork on the walls. “People said: ‘You’re crazy — you’ll have to screw them to the wall’. But the art wasn’t stolen and the level of general theft reduced.” Dr O’Carroll puts this positive change down to his making a creative environment that showed respect for his patients. “Putting up the artwork transformed my space into a warmer, human environment, where patients felt comfortable, where they felt allowed to interact at a more human level.” The Dublin GP is one of a panel of speakers who participated in a conference this week on the value of the arts in health. The conference is one of a number of arts and health events taking place in Dublin this month — entitled Vital Signs, the programme is organised by the Arts Council in partnership with Create (the national development agency for collaborative arts) and also sees an exhibition running in five venues across the capital. Dr O’Carroll is well-qualified to talk about the contribution the arts can make in a medical setting. Disabled since birth as a result of his mum’s being prescribed the notorious morning-sickness drug thalidomide during her pregnancy, he spent long periods in hospital as a child. “The hospital was intimidating and scary. My memories are all of needles and echoing walls. I have vivid memories of the hollow echoing of children crying in distress — their cries echoing because of the hard, bare walls.” Dr O’Carroll believes the important medical ideals of objective doctor and sterile surroundings mustn’t blind us to the need for a medical environment that reflects a human, engaged doctor. “There’s this whole idea of the objective doctor making a clinical decision in an environment that reflects clinicality, aloofness and objectivity. There’s no cluttering of space, no sentimental objects, just a model of sterility — hard surfaces you can clean

COMFORT ZONE: creating a positive and open environment helps patients feel more comfortable.


down. But patients want subjective intimacy and caring too. They want empathy from the doctor, and the medical environment should reflect that reality. Medics often miss the fact that environment affects you, that there’s value in humanising our spaces.” One example of an attempt to humanise the medical environment using the arts is the Open Window project, which uses remote cameras and photography and which for the past five years has been lightening the burden for patients in an isolation ward at the National Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in St James’s Hospital. “These patients — who are being treated for malignancies such as leukaemia — are subject to lengthy periods of isolation following a transplant. They’re very vulnerable — their energy levels are low and they’ve got limited contact with family and loved ones,” says Joan Kelly, nursing services manager with the Irish Cancer Society, a major funder of the Open Window project. “The funding was part of a grant for projects that help cancer patients’ psychological wellbeing. The idea was to expose patients to the arts project to see if it would impact on their levels of anxiety, depression and stress. Preliminary results are very positive, showing that patients experienced less depression and anxiety,” says Kelly. Denis Roche is curating artist of the Open Window project, which involves placing a remote camera in a location with significance for the patient. Images of the location are then transmitted through the

mobile phone network every 15 minutes to a projector in the patient’s room, where they’re shown on the wall at the foot of the bed. “First, we ask the patient if there’s anywhere in the world they’d like to see while they’re stuck in hospital. One man used to take walks on Dun Laoghaire Pier so we put a camera there. Another person wanted to see the giraffe in Fota. Yet another patient wanted to see photos taken from his apartment window of construction works going on next door — he wanted to be able to discuss the progress with his partner and give out about it. “Patients generally want images of familiar places with happy memories that’ll help them while they’re in isolation,” explains Roche, adding that a popular element involved artists recording on camera images from their own daily life. “Patients really engaged with the fact that artists were out there on a daily basis taking photos for them. We also asked patients’ families to take photos on their camera-phone — one father got to see an image of his newborn baby.” Dr O’Carroll sees a role for the arts in medical education. As a GP trainer, he uses films such as The Hours and books such as The Diving Bell And The Butterfly to broaden student perspective. “The Hours explores the difficulties of being perceived as mad in society. If you were to discuss this clinically with students, they’d talk in terms of psychiatric diagnoses. Show them a film and they engage with the person. They get emotional – the film allows them enter the human

The hospital was intimidating and scary. My memories are all of needles and echoing walls. I have vivid memories of the hollow echoing of children crying in distress — their cries echoing because of the hard, bare walls — Dr Austin O’Carroll



sphere of being a patient. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is about a stroke patient in this ‘boxed-in’ syndrome, where they can only communicate with a flicker of their eye. “Mention that to any medic and they’d see it as a living death, but the book explores a whole different concept of healing. It helps promote the idea that if a patient comes in with, for example, a significant chronic disability, the doctor mustn’t allow his personal perceptions of that disability to instil a sense of hopelessness in the patient. Our role as doctors is to enable patients deal with illness in the most positive way. We have to be careful about making doctors’ presumptions patients’ realities.” The key question for those who hold the purse-strings, says Dr O’Carroll, centres on whether it’s worth funding the arts in health. “How do you assess that?” he asks. “There’s some hard evidence from a US study showing that patients — looking at nature images rather than bare walls — recover more quickly and have less need for pain medication.” But, says Dr O’Carroll, irrespective of assessable proven outcomes, there is value in humanising medical surroundings and creating an interactive, stimulating environment. The Vital Signs exhibition runs until October 21 at the National College of Art and Design Gallery; Foley’s Pharmacy, Thomas Street; St James’s Hospital; St Patrick’s University Hospital; and Dr Stevens Hospital. Exhibition trail takes an hour to complete. Visit




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The personal is professional when it comes to training our leaders in politics, banking and industry

Taking account

Social Entrepreneur required to resource mental health initiative. Telephone: Greg on 023


8841388 or 086 8070224


Feel Good Personals

Tony Humphreys


HAT has been most noticeable over the last year is the major lack of accountability by individuals in the banks, government, property development, financial institutions and public bodies. Not one individual has stood up and admitted to the avarice, greed and depersonalising of staff members and customers that were part and parcel of their professional practice. Many of these individuals have attempted to hide behind the system — politicians are amazing at doing it — but it is not a system that neglects people, it is individuals. The whole sad lack of accountability is crying out for an explanation. Why do so many individuals who are well-educated, in status positions and possessing considerable political or financial power, not own up to their very serious misdemeanours? It is not that those individuals — mostly male — lack intelligence, but they certainly appear to lack maturity. The wonderful 12th century poet and mystic, Rumi, puts it well when he said: “A person only becomes an adult when he takes responsibility for self and his own actions”. If it were only so we would emerge from the economic recession much more quickly. If accountability does not emerge, the economic recovery, now slowly emerging, will be built on the same defensive emotional/social foundations which led to the economic crash. I have found little evidence in the analysis of the causes of the recession that point to the very powerful emotional process that underpinned the economic collapse. These powerful emotional processes are peculiar to individuals, and while at an external level we can point to the avarice, the greed, the self-centredness, the depersonalisation, the target-fixated mentality, the betrayal of trust, there are deeper emotional realities to be detected. Unless these deeper more hidden realities are identified by each of the individuals who were exploitative and reckless with the ‘widow’s mite’, there will be no emergence of external accountability. When these individuals fail to examine their professional behaviour and do not come to realise that their ‘unprofessional’ conduct mirrors a deeper dark reality of personal insecurity, they will continue to blatantly rationalise their actions. When individuals do not have a consciousness of unresolved inner turmoil, they are unconsciously and automatically in defence and this defensiveness manifests itself in denial. Denial is a very powerful unconscious defence and arises from deep personal insecu-



rity. Unless the confused identity that lies at the heart of the neglect of others is resolved, no external accountability is possible. The most common confusions that exist are the confusion of one’s self and worth with such externals as power, wealth, status, success, prestige and work. Behind these projections lie fears of rejection and failure. Internal accountability is about becoming conscious of these inner unresolved conflicts and making new and mature responses to resolve them — when deep-seated, and particularly when denial is present, professional psychotherapeutic help is required. In terms of the prevention of the greed, avarice, bullying, depersonalisation, betrayal of trust and addictions to success, power, status and wealth that have haunted our society in recent years, it is vital that individuals who have positions of power — parental, political, educational, occupational, social, religious — be provided with the opportunities to closely examine their behaviour so that their inner turmoil is not projected onto others. In other words, personal development needs to be an integral part of professional development. This is not a benign issue but one that is critical to human well-being. For too long it has been assumed that education and status equals personal maturity, but the reality is that age, status, education, gender, wealth are no indices of maturity. What are indices of maturity are a solid sense of self not tied to anything outside of self and a separateness and independence in one’s relationship with others, work, creativity, wealth, productivity and success. Bill Gates believes that the greatest impediment to progress is success. However, it is deeper and more complex than that. The greatest impediment is a lack of regard for self, a lack of confidence in one’s intelligence beyond measure and the illusion that something outside self will resolve one’s inner turmoil. Internal accountability for our own insecurities is the sine qua non of accountability for the external actions that have so belied the trust that is inherent in professionalism.

KEY ISSUE: Bill Gates believes the greatest impediment to progress is success. But, it is deeper and more personal than that. Picture: (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)

■ Dr Tony Humphreys practices as a clinical psychologist and is author of several books on practical psychology including Whose Life Are You Living?


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Finding my true voice M

OST people begin stammering as children, often as the result of some trauma. In my case, I went into hospital to have my tonsils removed when I was four and emerged a week later with my fingernails bitten down to the quick and the makings of a chronic speech disorder. My condition grew worse each year in primary school, where I endured more physical violence from my classmates than most professional fighters might reasonably expect to endure in a lifetime. Secondary school was little better. I remember one stammerer telling me that he was known as Veg (short for Vegetable) in his teens. I answered to Junkie. It seemed easier for my peers to believe I was a drug abuser than someone who suffered from a disability. As it happened, it would have been easier for me to get treatment if that was the case. After college, I worked at a variety of jobs, from gutting fish to labouring on building sites. My worst ever position was as a part-time worker. My supervisor abused me about my stammer, and once went so far as to assault me. I once wrote a letter of complaint, but never had the courtesy of a reply. When times got better, I worked full-time as a house painter. Doing a job that required the minimum of talking suited me just dandy — indeed, I’d still be at it were it not for a back injury I sustained while working on my parents’ retirement home in my early 30s. That injury put paid to my ever earning a steady living from physical work again. I turned to journalism instead. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but a terror of cold-calling editors looking for commissions meant my career trajectory was steeply inclined, and progress was slow. If there is one thing stammerers the world over have in common, it’s our reluctance to speak up about our condition. Stammering has been described as the physical manifestation of a psychological condition — put simply, the repetitions, prolongations and other odd noises people associate with stammering are not caused by any affliction of the lips, throat or lungs, but by some imbalance of the mind whose origins remain a mystery. I’ve often been asked about the kind of setbacks I’ve endured as a stammerer. Growing up, I was bothered most by the constant accusations of laziness and, particularly, of faking my stammer, as if I had dreamed up a speech disorder in my early childhood for the craic of it. Like all stammerers, what I dreaded most was ever having to pronounce my name. I was plagued by shyness, and the stress of trying to speak led to chronic insomnia that endured into my 30s. I was, however, fortunate enough to have always had supportive friends. None of my girlfriends have ever been bothered by my stammer, though most would acknowledge it was like getting blood out of a turnip trying to get me to open up when they knew me first. People have often pointed to the politician Prionnsias de Rossa as an example of someone who has succeeded in life in spite of his stammer. I dearly wish I had been landed with a stammer as mild as de Rossa’s — I’m sure I would have had a more successful life as well. How right he was — try suing for verbal defamation some time. I haven’t been back in ten years, and can’t imagine ever doing so again. I am also asked about therapies and cures. I never had speech therapy of any kind until I was in my 20s. I tried hypnosis, at considerable cost and to no discernible effect. Fluency, my hypnotist assured me with a gentle undulation of the hand, would “come in waves”. I’m still gazing seaward. I also did a weekend course that involved


Marc O’Sullivan describes how getting a stammer at four years old cast a shadow over his life

learning to nod my head at the start of every word I might stutter on. Incredibly, it proved quite effective for a while. For the first time in my life, I began making phone calls to strangers as well as to my friends. But that particular wave of fluency soon receded. If the technique had worked in the long term, I’d still be using it. In my late 20s I lived in Boston. At one stage, by working 12-hour shifts seven days a week on a building site, I almost had enough money saved to do a month-long therapy programme at Boston University Hospital — considered to be the best in the world. My brother booked his wedding the same month. I was prevailed on to come home to stand as his best man, and that swell passed me by as well. I may well have been the first best man in history who refused to make a speech. In my mid-30s, I did a week-long speech therapy programme in London. By then, I was more or less incomprehensible to all but my closest friends. My back injury had left me destitute, and I had to borrow the money to do the programme. It was unsuccessful. A year or so later, I did a similar course in Dublin, run by the Irish Stammering Association. I was one of six or seven people on it, and for the first time in my life, I realised there were other stammerers with whom I felt an affinity. We learned about voluntary stammers and prolongations, which, when combined with slowing one’s speech, ease the process of talking considerably. We learned also to reclaim our human dignity. In terms of turning a corner, the pivotal moment was when I asked Patrick Kelly, one of the organisers, what else I might consider doing by way of therapy. Patrick assured me there was nothing else out there — this was it. I took his words to heart. My progress since has been consistent. Waves of fluency have come and gone, but now, at 44, I am mostly doing well. I attend a self-help group, supported by the Irish Stammering Association, on the first Tuesday of each month. I even use the telephone, and no longer get hung up on. I’m not cured of stammering, of course. Indeed, the prevailing wisdom is that there is no cure for adult stammering. But I firmly believe that anything is possible if one wants it badly enough. I’m not leaving this world a stammerer, that’s for sure. I have too much to account for in the next life. ■ Tomorrow is National Stammering Awareness Day.

WORLD APART: As his speaking disability grew worse each year in primary school Marc says he endured more physical violence from his classmates than most professional fighters might reasonably expect to endure in a lifetime. Picture:iStock NATIONAL Stammering Awareness Day will be marked by a schedule of events that runs from 9.30am to 5.30pm tomorrow at Wynns’ Hotel, Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1. Various organisations are coming together to share information with people who stammer, their friends, families, speech and language therapists and other professionals. Admission is free, and all are welcome. The speakers include:

■ Enda Kenny, TD, leader of Fine Gael. ■ Sean McKerrnan from the HSE speaking on positive mental health. ■ John Wills from Alone Ireland speaking on affects of anxiety/stress. ■ Joe O’Donnell, regional director of the Irish McGuire Programme. ■ Veronica Lynch member of the Irish Stammering Association. ■ SLT presentation by Mary O’Dwyer and Aoife McGuire, european clinical specialists in fluency.


■ 10 guest speakers will give short presentations on their personal experiences of stammering. ■ The Irish Stammering Association’s Children’s Drama Project will put on a showcase performance at 2pm. ■ Art corner at 1pm for young people who stutter. Further information: The Irish Stammering Association at




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RUN for the FUN of it With the recession in full swing lots of people are taking to the roads as a cheap way of getting fit, challenging themselves and raising their feelgood factor. Ailín Quinlan reports


HE annual Dublin City Marathon kicks off on October 26. Widely regarded as a barometer of running’s popularity, this year there will be 12,000 running, the biggest number ever. But you don’t need to be a marathoner to enjoy the lifelong benefits of running. Whether you’re running 5k, 10k, or jogging for 20 minutes a few times a week, running boosts the immune system, beats stress, and keep you fit. Olympic medallist, John Treacy, has been running since he could walk. That’s an exaggeration — but not much. “I’ve been running all my life,” says Treacy, who joined an athletics club at the age of 12. He started pounding the pavement long before that — “I was always very fit. Running is in my blood,” he says. Now in his 50s and chief executive of the Irish Sports Council, the former star athlete runs four or five times a week in the forest near Saggart, Co Dublin — and he intends to continue running for the next 25 years, or so. Running seems to be something this sportsman can’t do without. After retiring in 1995, Treacy, who represented Ireland at four Olympic Games, gave up the pavement-pounding for about 12 months, only to find he was missing so many things about it. There was that fabulous sense of well-being, that feeling of being fit and healthy, and, last but not least, that sheer body glow that comes from a successful run: he started running again — but hurt his knee and had to stop for another six months, a period during which he exercised on a bike. “It was fine, but it just didn’t do it for me,” he says. In this context, his first post-injury run, in 2007, was sheer joy: “Then, the first run after the injury — the sense of it, physically, is very invigorating, the endorphins kick in and make you feel good. There’s a great sense of well-being after a run — you do it four or five times a week and you feel good immediately after. I run early in the morning, for about four miles — about 30 minutes. When I come back, I stretch and there’s a great sense of well-being. You’re glowing, you’re awake. I think it gives you a lot of energy. Please God, I see myself running for the next 25 years.”


It’s never too late to start running, says Treacy, who believes his quality of life, as a man in his 50s, is equal to that of a 36-year-old, primarily thanks to his participation in the sport. “Your cardiovascular is better, your blood pressure is lower, and you are less at risk of heart disease,” he says. Although the recession is in full swing, lack of funds is no excuse to morph into a couch potato — lots of people are getting fit on the cheap by taking to the roads. As the ever-increasing numbers of new runners are discovering, their stress levels take a welcome dive, too. The Irish love of running has been growing steadily, according to the 2008 report, Sporting Lives, an analysis of our participation in sports between 1984 and 2003. The study, which uses data from surveys of 3,000 people, found that participation in jogging or running grew by 7%, year on year, in the period between 1984 and 2003, with an annual hike of 5% per year for women, and 10% for men. However, running still has some way to go — according to another study, the Irish Sport Monitor, in 2007, jogging is just fifth most popular on a list of 10 sports, taken from a survey of 9,000 people — coming behind swimming, soccer, golf, and personal exercise. For those ready to give it a go, John Treacy has two tips: firstly, shoes are fundamental, says the former running champ: “a good pair of shoes is very important. It’s the

only piece of equipment you need — so, go into a specialised sports shop and ask for advice from someone who knows what they’re doing.” Secondly, you don’t have to go it alone — it’s a good idea to hook up with a friend for your run — not only will you have some company, but if you’ve committed to meeting someone for a jog, you won’t be as likely to talk yourself out of it. Our growing interest in running is reflected in the rising number of triathlon and marathon challenges in this country, which, according to personal trainer, Karl Henry, are among “the fastest-growing sports” in Ireland. Henry, who has participated in several marathons, at home and abroad, as well as three Iron Man triathlons, says that over the past four or five years, for example, the race calendar in Triathlon Ireland has hugely increased: “The number of races has grown enormously because of public demand. I have done the TriAthy — an Olympic distance triathlon race held annually in Athy — for the past three years. The first year I did it, there were six or seven hundred people. This year, three years on, there were 2,500. There’s huge interest in these events,” he says. “Take the Adidas Race Series, in the Phoenix Park. When it first started, around four years ago, there were about 2,500 participating — last September, there were about 8,500,” he says. “There are two Iron Man triathlons in Ireland this year, in Co Wexford and Co Down. When I first started doing Iron Mans, three years ago, no-one even knew about them — now, they’re quite commonplace and lots of people are training for them,” he says. The fact is that more and more

I run early in the morning for about four miles — about 30 minutes. When I come back I’m glowing, I’m awake!

— John Tracey


people are simply starting to see running as a way to keep fit, says Henry: “The endorphin release from it is fantastic. There is also a feelgood factor — often because running is linked to either personal goals or for charities. “It’s good for every part of your body. By running, you are automatically reducing the risk of almost any obesity-related disease, such as strokes diabetes, sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” he says. One of the attractions for world champion race-walker, Olive Loughnane, is the joy she gets from the sport: “There’s a great buzz from the experience. It keeps me energised, I love just getting out in the fresh air. Running can be a very social thing — not necessarily for me, because I’m competing — but for the people who do it for fun,” she says. Olive’s tip to would-be race-walkers: “Just get out there and start the habit — once you do, you’ll keep going,” she says. The social aspect of running is becoming a more significant element of the sport for amateurs, says Frank Greally, editor of Irish Runner magazine, and organiser of recreational running events with Athletics Ireland. “The social dimension is very important. There’s interaction with others, and this is a big part of today’s running scene. A lot of companies do it as part of team-building, and a lot of people go running with friends. Maybe people who would have gone out for a wild night together are now looking for a good day out together,” he says.



GETTING STARTED ■ SEE your GP if you have health concerns. If you’re overweight you may be advised to begin with a walk rather than a run as this may be considered more appropriate in the light of possible pressure on your joints, high blood pressure or heart problems. Remember, if you go too hard you can cause injuries to your joints, knees, ankles from the pounding, so it can be a good idea to start running on grass or sand. Start slow and aim to gradually build up your distance Buy a pair of good runners — go to a specialised shop and ask for advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about, advises former running super-star John Treacy. Avoid cotton clothing as it gets heavy with sweat, cautions fitness guru Karl Henry. Chooses running-wear made of sports fabrics which don’t hold sweat. Set your goals: Why are you running? What do you hope to achieve? A race of 5km is easily achievable, says Henry. Plan when you’re going to run — depending on what you can fit into your lifestyle aim for at least two runs a week. For your first run, run as long as you can; whether that’s two, five, 10 minutes or an hour. This will give you an idea about your fitness.

Those who can run for two minutes should do a two-minute walk and a three-minute jog for about 30 minutes. If you’re able for five minutes do five minutes walking and five running for about 30 minutes. However, if you can run for 10 minutes then you should break down your half-hour with five minutes walking and 10 running — it varies according to your ability. Increase gradually in line with your ability and growing fitness. Always warm up first with a fast walk or a slow jog, followed by a little stretching — full body stretch, two lower and two upper-body stretches. Once you are warmed up some gentle stretches. Always bring a bottle of water to ensure you do not become dehydrated. Bring a friend — it’s more sociable and you’re less likely to talk yourself out of it. Cool-down — a good stretch at the end with one or two lower body stretches and the same for the upper body is strongly recommended. If you’re going for a fairly demanding run, for example in the early morning, have something small to eat beforehand such as a small bowl of porridge or a yoghurt or brown bread toast.

WARMING UP: Make sure to do some stretching exercises before you begin to run. Picture:iStock

I REALLY LOVE IT ■ Increases your aerobic capacity ■ Weight loss ■ Reduces risk of obesity-related diseases such as heart attack, strokes, high blood pressure, joint problems ■ Reduces the chances of sleep apnea ■ Feelgood factor from the endorphin release following a run ■ Stress release ■ Fitness builds immunity system

IT’S A BUZZ: Olive Loughnane says she gets a great buzz from running and it keeps her energised. Picture:Photograph: Aidan Crawley

AMON COUGHLAN, pictured here, is not in the least surE prised by the growing interest in his favourite sport. For the three time Olympian and world championship-winning athlete

nothing else beats it. “I’m recovering from a broken foot. I didn’t run a step for nine months. Nothing else has given me the same feeling of pure exhilaration, that feelgood factor when you go for a jog, with a bit of oxygen, and get your heart rate going. “ I don’t get the same buzz from cycling, swimming or the rowing machine so I’m really looking forward to getting back to it, I really love it — it’s too easy to put on your runners and a pair of shorts or a tracksuit and head off out the front door — it’s the most accessible sport in the world.”



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Dr Niamh Houston



Dr Niamh Houston is a GP with a special interest in integrative medicine. If you have a question about your child’s health email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

MY three-year-old daughter recently started dancing lessons. Her teacher mentioned that she has fallen arches. Should she continue with her dancing? Shoe inserts were suggested — are these necessary? A. Many adults and children have feet with flat or fallen arches. This means the whole foot is in contact with the floor in standing position, rather than the inside arch being raised. The medical name for this flat feet is pes planus. It can be normal for children under six years old to have fallen arches. Most flat feet are caused by loose joint connections and baby fat between the foot bones. When children first walk, they have a relatively wide base of support with their legs and feet turned out. The feet roll over, making them look flat. As balance improves during the second and third year, this posture starts to improve. Most children develop an arch by five to six years of age. If an arch can be seen when your child stands on tip-toes, she has no back, hip, knee or foot pain and their co-ordination and development is fine, there is no cause for concern. There is no need to limit your child’s activities. Your child’s foot development will be the same whether arch supports are worn or not. Special shoes or insole supports are useful to help keep a shoe on your child’s foot. If your child has foot pain, her doctor may recommend a heel cup or shoe insert. However, because the feet of young children are soft and pliable, it’s important to look after them. If you have any doubts see your doctor who can arrange an appointment to see a physiotherapist or orthotist. Sometimes further orthopaedic assessment is needed. If your child’s flat feet are caused by fused foot bones, and if shoe inserts have not helped, surgery may be considered. Q. I read recently that iron deficiency is common in toddlers. How do you know if your child has low iron? Can this lead to any long-term problems? A. The body needs iron to make haemoglobin. If there is a lack of iron, haemoglobin production is reduced which in turn affects the production of red blood cells. Because red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen around the body, anaemia results in less oxygen reaching the cells and tissues. Many children with iron deficiency don’t show any symptoms because the body’s iron stores are usually depleted slowly. Iron deficiency anaemia doesn’t develop immediately. Instead, the amount of iron in the body is reduced while the iron in our red blood cells remains constant. But if iron depletion isn’t corrected, it progresses to iron defi-

ARCH ENEMY: It can be normal for children under six to have flat feet or fallen arches. Picture: iStock ciency anaemia. As iron-deficiency anaemia develops, you may notice some of these symptoms in your child: fatigue, pale skin, rapid heart-beat, decreased appetite, dizziness or irritability. Because these symptoms are common to many conditions, your child’s doctor will need more information to make a diagnosis. A blood test checking haemoglobin, reticulocyte count (immature red blood cells), ferritin and iron levels can confirm if your child is iron-deficient. Your doctor may also check your child’s stool for blood because iron deficiency anaemia can be caused by gradual loss of small amounts of blood through the gastrointestinal tract. Generally, children between the ages of one and three are most at risk of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia. Most toddlers are no longer consuming ironfortified formula and infant cereal, and are not eating enough iron-rich foods to make up the difference. Toddlers also tend to drink a lot of cow’s milk, often more than 24floz a day, an amount that can injure the lining of the stomach causing chronic blood loss leading to iron deficiency. Prematurity and low birth weight are other risk factors that put an infant at risk of iron deficiency anaemia. During the first stages of puberty, when a lot of growth occurs, boys are at risk of this condition also. Adolescent girls are at higher risk too because of menstrual blood loss and smaller iron stores than boys. In most cases, iron deficiency anaemia

can be prevented by following some basic steps. Infants under one year should only drink breast milk or an infant formula milk supplemented with iron. It is important for breast-fed infants to have iron-fortified solid foods starting at about six months. Children under two should have no more than 24floz of cow’s milk a day. Iron-fortified foods such as cereal and whole grain bread can be great way to make sure your child gets enough iron. Other iron rich foods include lean meats, egg yolks, broccoli, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, dried peas and beans and raisins. If your child is found to be low in iron, diet changes alone may not be enough. Iron supplements, as recommended by your doctor, may be needed also. Vitamin C helps iron absorption, so try to include plenty of sources of this in your child’s diet. Iron should not be given with milk as it will interfere with its absorption. If left untreated, iron deficiency anaemia may lead to behavioural or learning problems. Also, iron deficiency can also cause the body to absorb more lead. The higher the blood-lead level the more damage to the developing brain. It is a lot easier to help protect against lead absorption by simply preventing iron deficiency than it is to try to get rid of all the environmental lead around your child. Proper nutrition, which includes a diet rich in iron is important for all children. Establishing good eating habits early in life will help prevent iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia.

NOTE: The information contained in Dr Houston’s column is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor first

Catherine Shanahan MUM’S WORLD


BLACKHAWK Mum hovered on the fringes of her three-and-a-half year old son’s final developmental check, willing him to dazzle his assessor. He was undergoing a grilling on the contents of a picture book designed to test his IQ. “What’s that under the table Lughaidh?” the public health nurse challenged, pointing to a picture of a child sitting at a table, an animal visible beneath. “A dog,” he answered correctly, as Blackhawk whirred with happiness, elated by her clever son’s reply. Her happiness was shortlived when he bungled the next question despite her pains to steer him to success. Asked to describe what sat atop the table his answer was no different to the first. “A dog,” he said unflinchingly as Blackhawk, spying a teapot, tried to mime behind the nurse’s back. “I’m a Little Teapot,” she lip-synched in desperation but Lughaidh was clearly at

a loss. “A DOG,” her son repeated, staring at his mother, whose performance was amateur at best. “Does he know his prepositions?” the public health nurse asked, as Blackhawk Mum burned inwardly with shame. She feebly suggested that the questions didn’t suit him. The speech and language test continued and more objects were identified and soon her son was fairly on a roll. Ol’ MacDonald was a godsend, every animal unmistakable thanks to the stickers that adorn his bedroom walls. His colour test was faultless thanks to Elmer the patchwork elephant and in counting, he scored a perfect 10. He was almost home and dry when the nurse pulled out some building blocks and asked him to place them in a line. He looked bewildered, the challenge seemed beyond him and he sat there


staring at the blocks. Then, turning towards his mother, brow furrowed, clearly bothered, he asked a question that left Blackhawk aghast. “Where’s the lion Mammy?” he said, “I need to fill him with the blocks.” The public health nurse intervened as Blackhawk entered tailspin, convinced her son had flunked his toddler grade. He would never get to college and his academic career was over... “Lughaidh has a great imagination,” the nurse said, bringing Blackhawk sharply back to earth. “Great” was a word she liked to hear in reference to her son and an active imagination surely couldn’t hurt. She could build on that by reading to him and trying to steer him clear of DVDs. Or she could let him be a child and remember that just two types of people exist — those who see shapes in cloud formations, and those who just see clouds.




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The West Cork Bakery Luxury Fruit Brack, 800g F3.94 This is a flavour-packed fruit brack and while it does not have traditional spices, is comes with a commendably sort list of chemical-free ingredients. If trying to avoid a lot of sugar, this is an excellent choice. Our tasters liked it best. While on first glance, it appears pricier, it is also almost twice the size and weight, so good value. Score: 8

Irwin’s Barm Brack, 454g, 1.29, LIdl A long list includes as many chemicals as natural ingredients, along with hydrogenated vegetable oil, dextrose and invert sugar. The brack cannot be frozen as it has already been, so not ideal for small families who could freeze and toast leftovers later. Quite a light brack with nice amount of fruit.


NE of the positive aspects of the recession is that it might bring children back to basics — playing simple games and, at Halloween, for instance, enjoying dunking for apples, toasting barm brack, and telling scary stories in the dark. There are plenty of activities outside the home which don’t cost too much, either: ■ The Virginia Pumpkin Festival, in Co Cavan, sounds like fun. ■ Cork City Gaol hosts the Ninth World Ghost Convention. ■ The first ever Ballyhoura Spook will take place. ■ Galway’s Latin Quarter will come alive with a massive fancy dress party, street performances, and trick or treating. ■ Halloween Horror Week takes place at Wicklow Gaol, from October 23 to 31. ■ Halloween in the Haunted Gardens, at Birr Castle Demesne, sounds dramatic. ■ Kilkenny city celebrates its 400th anniversary by releasing its Halloween Ghosts on October 31. For more details check out: In our survey, this year, we looked for bracks with as few chemical additives as possible and with fresh, interesting flavours, along with a light texture. As treats go, brack is one of the better ones, at least delivering iron, and energy-rich fruit, along with about 300 calories for each 100g slice. Try to resist a second and avoid using butter on top, for a guilt-free experience.

Staffords Halloween Brack, 480g F2.99 Supervalu With some cherries and peel, the balance of fruit and dough works well. Good short list of ingredients with no chemical additives results in a simple, clean taste. Ring included. A good, traditional brack.

Ballymore Crust Luxury Barm Brack, 470g F1.69 Aldi

Darker in colour than most and quite dense, this brack is heavy in the mouth. Good amount of fruit for those who prefer a fruity brack. Lots of additives. Ring included.

This was another favourite of tasters for its addition of fresh tasting crystallised ginger pieces and not too much fruit. While the label says there are no hydrogenated fats, no artificial colours or flavours, a chemical stabiliser carboxy methyl cellulose (E466) has been used. However, the overall result is a well balanced brack at a fair price. Ring included.

Stale or fresh, brack is excellent toasted and stale brack is delicious used in a bread pudding, so waste is unnecessary. It can also be frozen, though one of our samples stated it had already been frozen and could not be replaced in the freezer, once defrosted, so, as always, check labels.

Tesco Barm Brack, 454g, F1.65 Dense texture with lots of fairly good quality fruit, with orange and lemon peel, but also chemical additives. Tastes quite pleasant. No ring. Score: 3.25

Score: 6

Irish Pride Barm Brack, 500g F2.99 Light in colour and texture with 28% sultanas, this brack has little flavour, except for some dull spices. However, it is not oversweet. Lots of chemical additives. Texture is dry. Ring included. Score: 3

Score: 5.5


As treats go, brack is one of the better ones, at least delivering iron and energy-rich fruit along with about 300 calories for each 100g slice

Score 3.5

Gateaux Halloween Barm Brack, 454g F3.45

Score: 3

Roz Crowley


Bakers Basket Halloween Brack Dunnes Stores, 630g F2.99 Spices dominate the flavour of this brack with cloves and nutmeg more than the coriander and caraway. Fair balance of fruit and brack, but heavy in texture. List of chemical additives is long. Includes ring. Score: 3




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Giving the gift of life A

BOUT 2,400 people in Ireland have benefited from organ donation, but a further 600 people are waiting on transplant lists. So it’s timely to ask people again to consider signing an organ donor card. In the unfortunate event you have an accident, it is not assumed that you consent to donate organs, so it’s vital to think ahead, sign up and let your family know. This topic has received a lot of coverage recently, particularly after the plea of writer Frank Deasy for donor awareness just days before he himself died during an operation to receive a transplant. Indeed, new figures from the HSE’s Audit of Potential Organ Donors confirms the need for people to carry organ donor cards and for families to discuss the issue of organ donation among themselves. The audit summarised the availability of organs for transplantation in a 12-month period in Ireland from September 2007 to August 2008. It showed that 200 patients were considered for brain stem death testing, 138 people were identified as suitable potential organ donors, organ donation was discussed

Deirdre O'Flynn MOSTLY MEN

with next-of-kin in 133 cases, consent was given in 92 cases, 90 organ donations took place but only 13 potential donors had donor cards. Among the reasons given by next-of-kin for not consenting were they were unsure of their loved one’s wishes, were divided on the topic of organ donation, or felt their loved one had suffered enough. “The HSE audit shows how rare and precious a gift organ donation is,” says Health Minister Mary Harney. “The issue of organ donation occurs at a time of tragedy and great emotional distress for a family. I believe that their act of organ donation brings some comfort to the family through the knowledge that their decision will have saved up to five

ORGAN DONATION: An estimated 2,400 people in Ireland have benefited from organ donation, but a further 600 people are waiting on transplant lists. Picture:iStock other lives. “Organ transplantation is a miracle of modern science, which transforms the lives of about 150 people in Ireland every year, who would have otherwise died. I would urge people to discuss the issue of organ donation today so that their wishes are known by their

Ireland trails badly for rheumatologist posts

Natural relaxant all in one spray

IRELAND ranks in the bottom three of a European league table of consultant rheumatologist posts, according to a new report investigating the impact of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on the workforce and economy. In Ireland, MSDs account for half of all absences from work at a cost of F750 million to the economy. The study, conducted across 25 countries in Europe and beyond, suggests that early detection of, and intervention in MSDs ultimately reduces the burden on governments’ health and disability budgets, and measurably improves the lives —at home and at work —of the sufferers. “The Fit for Work study clearly sug-

HELP may be at hand for those concerned about restless nights, joint and muscle pain and sports health. According to the manufacturers of BetterYou Magnesium Oil Sprays, their products help to supplement this essential mineral. Magnesium is vital for effective calcium absorption, ensuring healthy teeth and bones. A natural relaxant, it reduces muscle spasms and over-excited nerves, relaxes blood vessels, and eases headaches, muscle and joint pain. Unicarepharmacy is stocking the range, including Magnesium Oil Original Spray, Magnesium Oil Goodnight Spray and Magnesium Oil Sport Spray. The magnesium in BetterYou Magnesium Oils is mined from a source one mile underground and is more than 250 million years old. The range retails at F18.99.


ODAY is World Spine T Day and to mark it chiropractors

are promoting their Straighten Up campaign, simple daily exercises to encourage good posture for children and adults. “Back pain is no fun and it is not given the respect it deserves,” says Dr Virginia Cantillon of Cork Chiropractic Clinic. “Our programme is a quick way of mobilising, conditioning and enhancing spine health. It is fun, simple to follow and



gests that early intervention is a key factor in allowing people with MSDs to remain in work,” says John Church, CEO of Arthritis Ireland, pictured here. “Workers with MSDs who are supported at work are more productive and represent a return on investment for businesses. In addition, working and home-making increase people’s sense of worth, making them happier, more productive and engaged members of society.”

suitable for most healthy people irrespective of age.” To download the full exercise leaflet visit If you experience pain while doing the exercises, or if you have a history of back problems check with your GP before starting. To see the exercises demonstrated, drop into Dr Cantillon’s free weekly back care talks at the SMA Centre Wilton on Wednesdays at 7.30pm for October. For details telephone: 021-4342933.

with Kate O’Reilly TILTING STAR Head up high and pull your belly button in. ■ Spread your arms and legs into a star. ■ Breathe air in as you slowly stretch one arm over your head... and slide your other arm down your leg. ■ Slowly tilt your star to the other side. ■ Relax at the end of the stretch, and don’t forget to breathe in and out. ■ Repeat both sides twice.

■ To get an organ donor card, free text the word DONOR to 50050.

DId you know...

16 Irish men developed breast cancer in 2007


TIGHTROPE: Head up high and pull your belly button in. ■ Pretend the floor in front of you is a tight rope, high in the air. ■ Take a step forward on the tight rope. ■ over your ankle (not over your toes). ■ Keep it going, while you count to 20. ■ Repeat with the other foot forward.


families in the event of a tragedy. The figures also show the importance of people applying for, and carrying a donor card, and I would encourage everyone to do so.”

THE EAGLE Head up high and pull your belly button in. ■ Put your arms straight out and pull your shoulders together in the back. ■ Breathe air in and slowly raise your arms, until your hands touch together over your head. ■ Breathe air out and slowly lower your arms to your side. ■ Repeat three to five times.

MUSCLE BALM: New from Higher Nature is an all-natural MSM joint and muscle cooling balm, designed for tired, stiff muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and the abdomen, particularly after walking, sports, gardening, and manual or desk work. This balm contains 10% of MSM, Nigella Sativa (black cumin) seed oil and calendula officinalis (marigold) flower oil. It’s free of SLS, parabens, alcohol and mineral oil, and suitable for most skin types, F12.




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You can be environmentally friendly with your cosmetics too

AGENT PROVOCATEUR MASSAGE OILS WINTER’S all about staying in rather than going out, and if you’re looking to spice things up at home then look no further than Agent Provocateur’s new exotic massage oils. Rose Passion is designed to uplift and soothe, as well as having a moisturising effect. Sensual YlangYlang reduces tension, blood pressure and boost sensuality — while Tuberose Intoxication is sensual, warm and seductive with the tuberose’s deep scent, which is thought to be an aphrodisiac. The trio of oils come housed in beautifully little cheeky black bottles. Available from Agent Provocateur boutiques and website,, from F58.

Emily O’Sullivan


HAD a surge of recycling vigour last week thanks to Repak’s Annual Recycling Week. Instead of avoiding eye contact with a variety of plastic shampoo and moisturiser bottles, which sit around my bathroom, I decided to deal with these bottles head on. Yes, it was time consuming. Yes, it was very messy. But I felt great afterwards. It also got me thinking just how much the beauty industry contributes to the excess of waste dumped all over the world. We haven’t quite reached the stage yet where we can go and refill our empties at a local “shampoo” store (which would make sense), but there are ways to cut down on what we consume in small but effective ways. Over the last few years the amount of plastic consumed by the average household has increased drastically. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we really need it all. For instance, compared to the increasingly popular plastic handwash bottles, soap comes in minimal packaging and when it’s finished, it’s finished … there’s nothing left to recycle. Not only that but over the past few years soap has been smartening up its act big time. The humble bar is on a fast track to becoming de rigeur again with beauty companies such as L’Occitane blending beauty with charity. Its latest offering, Moments in Africa, F6.50, is a gift set containing three hand soaps perfumed with essential oils of orange, eucalyptus and lemongrass from Burkina Faso. All proceeds from the sale of the soap are donated to the fight against preventable blindness. The packaging is from sustainable forests and is whitened without the used of chloride. If you want to go a step further you can go for an “ethical soap”, hand-crafted without parabens, SLS, artificial colours or fragrances. The Bellingham Soap Company has a beautiful Essential Rose Handmade Soap, F4.27. Origins Let’s Circulate Salt Rub Soap, F15.50, has semi-circle bumps, and is designed to give you a massage while also purifying the skin, thanks to the inclusion of Dead Sea salts. Reducing our waste from a beauty perspective does require a re-think of what we buy. Going for massive, bulk-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser offers one solution, but making sure the products you buy come in recycled or recyclable packaging is another important step. Not only that, but cutting down on what we use is

The news on ...

TAKE THREE WORD OF MOUTH: Don’t get lulled into using products you don’t really need — a few basic items are all you need for a solid beauty routine. Picture: iStock

DO A CLEAN UP good news for our wallet, as well as the planet, and one of the ways of doing this is by opting for products with a wide range of functions. Many multi-taskers aren’t “green” in the sense of being chemical-free, but they do cut out excess waste by double and even triple-jobbing. Products such as Vaseline (which can be mixed with eyeshadow to create an on trend glossy eye, can be used on dry skin, can be mixed with lipsticks to create a lipgloss, can be used on hair, tames eyebrows, etc) and Eight Hour Cream from Elizabeth Arden, F25 (which can be used again on hair, skin and lips) are great little must-haves for your bathroom cabinet. It’s also important to re-think your make-up bag and don’t be afraid to experiment with using different products in different ways (cream blusher and lipstick are often interchangeable). The biggest rule of all is don’t get lulled into using products you don’t really need. Generally, a good all-round moisturiser with an

SPF and cleanser is all you need for a solid beauty routine. Another way of cutting down your waste is to avoid cleansers that need to be used with cotton wool, and don’t go near cleansing wipes — most are not biodegradeable. Instead opt for a cleanser, such as Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, from F5.50, which uses muslin cloths that can be washed and re-used. Best of all, if you’re looking to be environmentally friendly about your beauty products, then go local. Opting for locally produced products keeps air miles down and there are some wonderful local companies including Voya, Nadur Organics and Seavite using fabulous local ingredients like seaweed. And don’t be afraid of making your own products — in this age of getting back to basics, there’s nothing like whipping up your own face mask or hair conditioning treatment from whatever is hiding in your fridge. Try The Green Beauty Bible for excellent recipes that really work.

AUTUMN BEAUTY PALETTES BEAUTY palettes are a great way of getting a hot autumn look quickly and effortlessly. They also offer maximum versatility with an array of shades that can be blended and smudged to get the look that’s right for you. Bobbi Brown Velvet Plum Eye Palette, F50. This is a gorgeous little palette with four lovely shades of eyeshadow in Bone, Naked, Velvet Plum and Espresso. It’s perfect for creating a variety of looks and the Bone shade really wakes up the eye making it look super-fresh with just a slick of mascara. Score: 10 No7 Essential Palettes in Stone, F19.75. A smoky eye is still bang on trend for autumn, and Boots four-colour eyeshadow in stone is a great way to nail the enduringly popular sultry smoky-eye look. Score: 8 Christian Dior Jazzclub, F64. This is a seriously deluxe palette, it’s beautifully presented in a handbag-style casing with some really gorgeous shades. There’s a creamy eyeliner, eyebrow powder, glittery topcoat, matte eyeshadow and iridescent eyeshadow. It’s got a great collection of looks and while it is pricey, it will last a long time. Score: 10

STUFF WE LIKE L’Occitane Soap Set Moments in Africa, F6.50. Replace the soaps in your bathrooms and toilets with pretty little soaps from this gift set. At only F6.50, the trio of soaps are affordable and 100% of the proceeds are donated to charity.

greenest ingredient around, but this is a great little beauty must-have that can be used in many different ways while cutting down on the amount of products you need substantially. Great as a moisturiser on dry legs and feet.

Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly, from F2. Yes, petroleum jelly is probably not the

Eight Hour Cream, from Elizabeth Arden, F25. The all-time classic multi-tasker, this is a great product that lasts a long time. You only need a little blob to get a good


effect that lasts through the day. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, from F5.50 at If you want to be a bit greener, then go for a cleanser that can be washed off or invest in some light little muslin cloths which means you can wave goodbye to cotton wool or cleansing wipes. Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Organic Facial Moisturiser, F25.51 at This light facial mois-


turiser is perfect for oily skins and has a sunblock of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect from UV damage. Essential Rose Handmade Soap, F4.27 at Rose has a pretty, nostalgic scent and this soap is a lovely one to leave in a bathroom or guest room. It’s also affordable and lasts well.




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Megan Sheppard Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

MY mother is a recovering A. Raspberry leaf would not be my alcoholic. Can you please first herb of choice to increase iron levels, provide some dietary sughowever it has a reputation for toning the gestions to help support her uterus and helping it to contract more efrecovery and help to repair fectively during labour. It’s best to comher body? bine the raspberry leaf with nettle, since A. You are on the right track in looking nettle is a highly nutritious herb rich in to nutritional support to help your mother iron, and I find the two to complement work her way back to better health. Alcoeach other well. holism is often accompanied by lack of adIt is important with raspberry leaf to equate nourishment, typically through lack test it out first (using a teaspoon to a cup of healthy eating, but also due to the damof boiling water), since it can cause age sustained to most of the organs. strong contractions almost immediately in If she is currently in a programme for some women. If so, then it is best avoidrecovery, nutrition should be a significant ed until much closer to full-term. But if component of the process, along with supyou have no negative response, then take plements to help repair the vital organs. A up to four cups daily, and add a little multivitamin and mineral supplement is a honey if you find the taste not to your great place to start, as is a quality probiotliking. Another complementary herb to ic, since poor gut health causes a dimincombine with raspberry leaf and nettle is ished capacity to absorb nutrients. Seven spearmint leaf, if you enjoy a minty Seas’ Advanced Formula Multibionta flavour, which will also help with the (1850 681012) is ideal — it’s a combinacommon late pregnancy symptom of tion of vitamins and minerals which delivheartburn. er maximum benefit. The tablets have also been freeze-dried so no need to worry Q. I bought some boswellia serrata about storing them in the refrigerator. capsules to take as an alternative to It is possible that your mother requires other painkillers like Ibuprofen. How some of the nutrients in higher (also reshould I take the capsules? In particuferred to as therapeutic) doses rather than lar, do I take it when I am experiencthe general maintenance doses found in ing pain, or as a preventative? most supplements, so it would be well A. Boswellia serrata is from the gum of worth visiting a naturopath or nutritional the tree of the same name, and is often consultant who can test for deficiencies to referred to as Indian frankincense, not to ensure she is getting enough of the nutribe confused with frankincense from the ents she needs. boswellia carteri tree. It is indeed a powOf course, eliminating processed foods erful anti-inflammatory remedy, which and eating plenty of whole, fresh foods can assist in the relief of headaches, menwill help immensely — in particular strual cramping, rheumatism, osteoarthriavoiding the common step of replacing altis, and sporting injuries. cohol use with cigarettes, coffee, junk It works by opening up the blood vesfoods, or fizzy drinks. Healthier eating sels causing the restriction and pain in the supports a successful long-term recovery, body, and is best taken in the same way and will also assist the body in making that you would use paracetamol or positive progress faster than those who go HEALTHY EATING: Fresh and whole foods can help ibuprofen. Take 100mg up to three times sober without making nutritional changes. support a successful long-term recovery for alcoholics. daily when you feel pain coming on, and There are also herbs which target the Picture: iStock increase to a 300mg dosage (again up to liver — milk thistle has a long been used three times daily) if you are experiencing in Europe for helping to repair and regenstronger pain. You don’t need to take it erate damaged liver cells, and also provides proas a preventative unless you are using tection from further damage by scavenging for boswellia to alleviate the pain of a chronic the free radicals which cause ageing and tissue inflammatory condition, such as arthritic to inhibit the desire for alcohol. damage. NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) is another joint pain. supplement with an affinity for the liver. NAC Q. I am 36 weeks pregnant and have Readers interested in purchasing this herb works to prevent liver damage, maintain can find Solgar’s standardised full potency been told I should take raspberry leaf tea healthy lung function, and enhance the imboswellia resin extract, which costs around to help increase my iron levels. Do you mune system. Kudzu is a wonderful herb to F17 for 60 100mg vege caps. Available from know how much I should take for it to be support recovery from alcoholism, as it works health stores. of benefit to me?

Megan puts the spotlight on: TWO weeks ago, I covered the 18 Bach Flower remedies recommended for fear, uncertainty, and insufficient interest. This week we take a look at the remaining 20 essences:

and a sense of righteousness. 25. Vine: Domineering and inflexible attitude, demanding obedience.

Remedies for over-sensitivity

26. Beech: Critical, intolerant, judgemental.

19. Agrimony: Mental torment hidden behind a brave face.

27. Rock Water: Inflexible, opinionated, self-dominating.

20. Centaury: Individuals who allow themselves to be imposed upon or bullied.

Remedies for loneliness

21. Walnut: Affected by outside influence. This provides protection during change. 22. Holly: Hatred, suspicion, envy, jealousy, revenge, anger. Remedies for over-care of others 23. Chicory: Control and manipulation of loved ones. 24. Vervain: Fixed ideals, confident,


28. Water Violet: Proud and aloof, withdraw when stressed. 29. Impatiens: Easily irritated, prefer to work alone, quick acting and thinking. 30. Heather: Self-centred, unhappy with being alone. Remedies for despondency or despair 31. Larch: Lack of confidence in abilities.

Bach flower essences 32. Pine : Blame self for anything that goes wrong. 33. Elm: Overwhelmed by responsibility. Depressed and exhausted. 34. Sweet chestnut: At the edge of mental limits. Bleak future. 35. Star of Bethlehem: For the mental and physical effects of shock. 36. Willow: Resentment, bitterness. 37. Oak: Loss of inner strength, driven by sense of duty. 38. Crab Apple: Self-hatred, self-disgust, obsessive behaviour. Once you have chosen your remedy/combination, the most effective method of taking Bach Flower essences is to place four drops under the tongue up to four times daily. If the situation is acute, then take the remedy every five minutes or when you feel the need to.


Often a crisis situation only requires a single dose. You can also add the essences to creams, sprays, baths, compresses, or massage oils. The popular Rescue Remedy is the combination of Rock Rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem, and Cherry Plum.

CLEANSING OILS: Remedies can be added to creams, sprays, baths or massage oils. Picture:iStock




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Feelgood 16-10-2009  

Feelgood is a health and wellbeing supplement published by the Irish Examiner every Friday.