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Friday, January 15, 2010

Tough love How far should you go when laying down the law with your child? 8,9,10

Picture: istock



Why women are more likely to get depressed than men: 5


Cabbage makes a comeback as a health food: 11


Psoriasis treatment turns young man’s life around: 13




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Arlene Harris talks to Darren Cawley, one of hundreds waiting to receive a new lease of life

Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON DEPRESSION AWARENESS: Next Monday, January 18 sees the start of Depression Awareness Week. To mark Aware’s 25th year, a number of personalities have come on board to encourage people to get help. Contact Aware: loCall Helpline on 1890 303 302 or email for a free information pack. New online supports, including chat rooms on Events in the south include: Monday 18: Tralee — Open information session, 1pm- 3pm at Aware office, Collis Sandes House, Oakpark, Tralee. Tuesday 19: Mallow — Open information session, 10am-1pm at Mallow library; Tralee — Aware lecture, opening up about depression, at 8pm in The Grand Hotel. Thursday 21: Waterville, Co Kerry — open information session, 11.30am-2pm, Tech Amergin. ACUPUNCTURE SEMINARS: The inaugural Acupuncture Awareness Week takes place from January 18 to 23. The public are invited to attend free information evenings at: Cork — Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, UCC, Wednesday January 20 at 6.15pm. Limerick — Strand Hotel, Ennis Road, January 20 at 4.30pm; Waterford — Tower Hotel, Tuesday January 19 at 7pm. Dublin — D4 Berkeley Hotel, Ballsbridge, Thursday January 21 at 5.30pm. Galway — G Hotel — Saturday January 23 at 12pm. Visit: (See page 4) THERAPIES DAY: Free holistic information event in Vienna Woods Hotel, Glanmire, Co Cork from 2 to 5.30pm on Saturday January 23. Entry is by pass available from Cornelia Fitzgerald 087 2138446 E-mail:; and Joan Buckley 087 6749221 E-mail: HEART CLINIC: The Irish Heart Foundation will hold a free blood pressure and cholesterol testing clinic at the Family Resource Centre, Farranree, Cork from 2.30 to 4pm on Wednesday next January 20. Contact 021-4505822. STUDY SKILLS: To celebrate World Hypnotism Day Cork hypnotists Martin Kiely and Paul Giltinan are offering a free hypnotherapy seminar on ‘Learning Enhancement and Study Skills’ tonight at Brú Columbanus, Cardinal Way, Wilton, Cork from 7.30 to 10.30pm. Contact 021-4870870. Info to:

SPA COMPETITION Our apologies. Due to a production error the Brehon Health Squad Weekend competition did not appear in last week’s Feelgood. Instead, it ran in the main paper on Tuesday — winners are announced today.

Operation donor W

HILE you are reading this, there are approximately 600 people in Ireland waiting anxiously for an organ transplant. Whether through accident or illness, their lives can be on hold for years as they await news of an available organ. Giving an insight into the daily life of a hopeful recipient, a new three-part series on TV3 hopes to open our eyes to the daily struggle suffered by patients on organ waiting lists. The Gift of Life follows the stories of 12 transplant patients and the families of some of their donors in a moving programme highlighting how important organ donation can be. When Darren Cawley (featured in the series) was 20, he was in college, planning to travel the world before embarking on a career in sports and physical science. But when he visited his optician complaining of blurred vision, he was referred to hospital immediately. It was there, doctors discovered he had a rare kidney disease. Now 31, the Westport man is on dialysis three times a week, he is unable to work and the nature of his treatment means he has to stay close to home. “I had a kidney transplant almost 11 years ago, but it wasn’t successful and it stopped working after two years,” he says. “Time has stood still ever since.” Darren has been on a transplant waiting list for four years and despite the fact that family members have offered to donate an

PATIENT MAN: Darren Cawley — “something has to happen soon”.

organ, he is holding out for a lucky break. “I don’t really want to put them through an operation for me,” he admits. “I have been waiting for so long, something has to happen soon.” But the hopeful patient is just one of hundreds waiting to receive a new lease of life through the unfortunate demise of a stranger. Professor Oscar Traynor is a consultant surgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital and director of the national liver transplant programme. He says people should think about organ donation and make their feelings known before its too late. “If more people were to carry organ

donor cards then waiting lists would invariable get shorter” he says. “And if applying for a card is too time consuming, there is a section on the back of every driver’s license which allows them to state their wishes on the matter — although people should make it clear that they have discussed the matter with their next of kin,” he advises. “The difference an organ transplant can make to a recipient is like the difference between night and day — most people who are waiting for a donor have a terrible quality of life — a successful operation would transform their lives.” ■ The Gift of Life starts on Thursday January 21 at 10pm on TV3.

HEALTH NOTES ALMOST one in four women who stop taking the contraceptive pill do so because they feel it doesn’t agree with them, according to new research. One in five women blamed the pill for mood swings, while similar numbers said it caused weight gain. Side-effects of depression and migraine were cited by 12% and 10% of women respectively. The research was commissioned by Bayer Schering Pharma ahead of the launch of new contraceptive pill Qlaira, which delivers different levels of oestrogen and progestogen throughout the month, with one pill taken daily for 28 days. “It provides a more natural form of the hormone oestrogen, which is ideal for women who are conscious about what they put in their bodies,” says Dr Eithne Brenner of the Brenner Clinic.

10 migraine-sufferers are hugely sensitive to light, a condition known as photophobia.

TOP Irish athlete Derval O’Rourke is set to undergo a smile makeover this year with her treatment expected to be complete by November. The Irish record-holder at 100m, 60m and 50m hurdles will wear invisible braces and undergo crown-replacement and teeth-whitening at the Seapoint Dental Clinic in Blackrock, Dublin. “With the World Indoor championships and European outdoors this year, I hope I’ll have plenty to smile about,” says the athlete.

PEOPLE who gain more than 9kg/20lb compared to their weight as an 18-year-old will rapidly increase their risk of health problems due to that extra weight, warn the Nutrition & Health Foundation, which conducted a survey that found more than three in four participants had gained 10kg/22lbs since they were 18. Pointing out that fad diets don’t work long-term (lose weight rapidly and you’ll almost certainly suffer a rebound effect), the foundation’s advice for people making weight-related new year resolutions is to ensure goals are small, manageable and achievable in less than a year. Helen O’Callaghan

WHY migraine-sufferers shun the light has always mystified doctors. Now, new US research has found the answer — light intensi-

ONE in five people in Ireland and Britain did not take all the holidays due to them in 2009, according to research conducted by accommodation website Of those with annual leave left to take, more than one in three surveyed in the final month of 2009 had yet to use up their remaining days holidays while as many as one in six still had five working days to book — for the majority of the workforce this equates to a significant proportion (18%) of their total holiday allowance. The survey also found that one in six had taken fewer holidays in 2009 than they had the year before — a sign that the recession is forcing us to forego holidays.

TOUGH MEDICINE: The pill “doesn’t agree with almost one in four women”. Picture: iStock fies migraine headaches because of a particular group of retina cells at the back of the eye, say researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who explain that photoreceptors send signals to the brain via the optic nerve, which stimulate migraine pain neurons. More than eight in EDITORIAL: Irene Feighan 021-4802292 ADVERTISING: Niamh Kelly 021-4802215






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Sinead Sheppard

Woman of many parts TO say Sinead Sheppard has many talents is an understatement. She is a former member of pop group SIX, which had success in Ireland and in Europe with two number one singles and a top five album. “SIX had been very successful and we wanted to finish up that way. We also decided to call it a day because some of us had other projects we wanted to pursue,” says the 27-year-old. For the past four and a half years, Cobh-born Sinead has run her own dance school, where she teaches four to 18-year-olds hip hop and modern dance. She is currently starring in the Cork Opera House pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, in which she plays Jill, and she was recently talent adviser for the South in RTÉ’s All Ireland Talent Show. “I was part of reality TV myself and lived my dream through it, so it’s exciting for me to see other young people coming through,” says the woman, who became the youngest elected representative in Cobh when she was elected as a councillor for Fine Gael in last June’s local elections. Sinead has been dating engineer boyfriend Eamonn O’Keeffe for 11 years. Jack and the Beanstalk runs at Cork Opera House until Sunday, January 24. What shape are you in? I’m in OK shape. I dance every day. Doing panto really tests you, with all the dancing, singing and running around stage. Do you have any health concerns? No, I’m pretty sturdy. Last time I was at the doctor’s was three years ago for the flu. What are your healthiest dietary habits? I drink two litres of water or more a day. I don’t eat any white bread or potatoes and I eat a lot of fruit.

Sunday is usually my only chill out day, when I stay in pyjamas and do nothing What trait do you least like in yourself? Sometimes I talk too much — I’m a yapper. People are always saying ‘Shh..’ Do you pray? I do, though not an awful lot. I’m likely to say a little prayer when I’m upset or something’s worrying me. I don’t go to mass but I have my own personal beliefs and I would now and then say a prayer. What would cheer up your day? A phone call from a friend. My boyfriend lives in Dublin so it’s always great to get a text from him.

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Helen O’Callaghan

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? The minute Friday comes I’m in the Chinese. I’m good all week but not at weekends. I’m a big ice-cream addict as well.


What would keep you awake at night? My grandmother is always telling me to stop stressing. Even though I love the dance school, it can be stressful, hoping it can be the best it can. And dealing with people’s issues on the council can be difficult — you hear a lot of sad stories. How do you relax? By having a lazy day — chilling out on the couch, watching TV, eating nice food. Sunday is usually my only chill out day, when I stay in pyjamas and do nothing. What would you change about your appearance? I’d have said loads of things a few years ago but I find the older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin — I’m more comfortable now than I’ve ever been. I would like better, thicker hair though. What’s your favourite smell? The fragrance I’m wearing at the moment, which is Calvin Klein’s Euphoria.


When did you last cry? I don’t cry an awful lot. I wouldn’t be too soft. Even if I’m upset, I hold it in. I honestly can’t remember the last time I cried. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? The film director Tim Burton — I think he has an amazing mind.


What book are you reading at the moment? The Secret, a self-help book by Rhonda Byrne, which a friend gave me three weeks ago. I’ve just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is the best book I’ve read in recent times. What trait do you least like in others? It costs nothing to be nice. I have no tolerance for people who are rude.


Phone: LORI FRASER Tel. 021-4802265 Fax 021-4273846 STORY TIME: Sinead Sheppard plays Jill in the Cork Opera House pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.


Every Friday.




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Acupuncture may loosen palsied muscles, says Richard Fitzpatrick

Getting to the point


EVIN MULCAHY was born with cerewhich causes them to bend when he walks. bral palsy, which mainly affects his legs. The acupuncturist inserts 15 pre-sterilised needles inHe has always had limited mobility, to his body, including into parts of his quadriceps, into because his leg muscles are tight and rigid. his knees and the back of his knees, into both of his He started to lose the ability to walk indehip flexor muscles, into his backside, and into his pendently at 22 years of age, due to detefeet, ankles and calves. rioration of the muscles in his legs. He “It’s very relaxing, as a form of treatment,” he takes medication for muscle spasms and says. “I don’t mind the needles going in, at all. he’s had numerous surgical intervenWhen my quads were very tight, I wouldn’t feel tions, which unfortunately haven’t the needles going in. But because the quads worked. have loosened up, I can now actually feel a lit“I spent a lot of my youth going in tle pinch going in now, but it’s not pain. and out to hospital and spending my “When the muscles become less rigid and time going to out-patient departless tight, I can do more with them. As a rements, seeing consultants and doing sult, I can gain more function in my lower different things that didn’t work,” says limbs. I’ve found that since I’ve been atMulcahy, who is now 37. “It made me tending Marase, I can stand up that bit worse, really, instead of making me straighter. I can walk that bit straighter, as better. I became very disillusioned and well. started to do a lot of research on the “She also inserts one or two needles into internet into my own condition, and inmy hands and into my wrists, because I to different remedies that could help it.” have a little bit of a history of depression Two years ago, the Limerick man started to go REGAINING and anxiety, which I suppose is no surprise, given to the Central Remedial Clinic, in Dublin, every STRENGTH: all that I’ve been through. It certainly has helped couple of months to get Botox injections into that as well, enormously. My general well-being Acupuncture has both of his hamstrings and his calf muscles, has improved. I hope my story will be an inspirareduced Kevin which helps to relax them. They relax his musMulcahy’s muscle tion to others that suffer from cerebral palsy and cles. As a result, he can walk with the use of a their families.” stiffness. Picture: walker, after years of using a wheelchair. In McElduff has been in practice for 20 years and Brian Gavin Press 22 November, prompted by studies he found about treats a range of ailments relating to pain relief, the impact of acupuncture in treating cerebral such as migraines, back ache and multiple scleropalsy, he began his first course of Chinese sis medicine, with Marase McElduff, at her clinic in “He’s loosened out a lot,” she says. “He’s standing Dooradoyle, Limerick. He’s had 15 sessions. straighter and with much less discomfort. His From the outset, he established long-term goals for his spirits have lifted as well. You can see it in treatment: to walk straighter, and stand up straighter, and him as he walks from his car to the door to alleviate the contracand the way he’s holding his head.” ture of his hips and knees,



Acupuncture Awareness Week, Monday, 18 January — Friday, 22 January THE inaugural Acupuncture Awareness Week kicks off on Monday with a series of free information evenings, seminars, and trial acupuncture sessions in centres around Ireland, including Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Athlone. Although acupuncture only came to prominence in Ireland in the 1970s, it dates back 3,000 years in China. It is used in conjunction with herbs, and advice on diet and lifestyle, to unblock the flow of energy in a body. “Chinese medicine believes in a substance called ‘qi’, which is energy,” says Dermot O’Connor, chairman, Acupuncture Council of Ireland, pictured below. “In Chinese medicine, blood is moved throughout your body with ‘qi’, or energy. If there’s ill health, there’s usually manifestations of a problem with this energy that’s in your body. In the case of tumours, for example, that’s seen as an accumulation of energy stagnating, with other bodily fluids congregating in that area because energy has stagnated. “The acupuncture channels, which are called meridians, are like the motorways of energy that travel throughout your body. When you put a needle into an acupuncture point, it’s almost like you’re trying to adjust a traffic signal along that motorway. You’re changing the way energy flows in the person’s body,” he says. The World Health Organisation states that acupuncture is effective in treating up to 200 illnesses. ■ Visit




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Women are up to four times more likely to experience depression than men, writes Colette Sheridan who is herself a sufferer

Dark days without a dawn


N THE surface, best-selling novelist Marian Keyes has a dream life. She has sold 22 million books worldwide, translated into 33 languages. She has a loving husband and a sparkling personality that shines when she is a guest on chat shows. But, as she revealed on her website last week, the 46-year old author is currently laid low with a crippling bout of depression, an illness that has dogged her for years. Keyes, who was a guest editor of Feelgood in 2008, has courageously spoken about her depression in the past. But this current episode is significantly worse than normal. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t read, I can’t talk to people,” she wrote in a blog to fans. “The worst thing is that I feel it will never end.” This is a common feeling in people suffering from depression. Although Keyes can’t see any light at the moment, she will, with help, recover. I was diagnosed with depression 20 years ago. I have had debilitating depressive episodes and, each time, I believed I would never come out of them. But with the help of a psychiatrist, medication and talking to friends and family, I have come out of dark spells. I can never say I’ve kicked depression for good. It’s an ongoing condition that has to be managed. Keyes probably feels very alone right now. But she is one of 400,000 people in Ireland experiencing depression at any one time. Women are three to four times more likely to experience depression than men. High-profile Irish women who have spoken about their depression include politician Mary O’Rourke — who suffered from post-natal depression — actress Mary McEvoy and singer Frances Black. Other women in the public eye who suffer from the illness are Iris Robinson, Tracey Emin, JK Rowling, Caroline Aherne and Ruby Wax. Lewis Wolpert, professor of biology at University College London and author of Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression, also suffers from the condition. He entered a state of severe depression 15 years ago. “It was the worst experience of my life. All I wanted was to kill myself, despite being happily married and having a fine job at the university.” He points out that severe depression is not to be confused with mild depression or feeling low. “More education about the condition would be invaluable, not just in removing the stigma but in helping sufferers seek treatment.” Louth-based GP Dr Harry Barry author of Flagging the Therapy: Pathways Out of Depression and Anxiety, describes severe depression as akin to “being in a dark hole like a well with high walls all around you and no way of getting out”. Women are more prone to depression, says Dr Barry, “because men’s brains and



■ Feeling depressed, sad, anxious or bored. ■ Lacking in energy with slow movements and feeling everything is an effort. ■ Waking during the night or too early in the morning, or oversleeping. ■ Slow thinking, poor concentration, forgetfulness and indecisiveness. ■ Loss of interest in food, work and sex. ■ Reduced sense of self worth, low self esteem and guilt. ■ Aches such as headaches, chest or other pains without a physical basis. ■ Not wanting to live, suicidal thoughts or thinking about death.

DEPRESSION SUFFERERS: Clockwise from main pic, Marian Keyes, Frances Black, Iris Robinson, Mary McEvoy and J K Rowling.

women’s brains are hardwired differently and also, there are hormonal differences between men and women. A lot of people don’t realise that levels of serotonin (the feelgood hormone) are much smaller in women than in men.” On top of this, women now expect more from themselves than ever before — a mindset that can lead to a feeling of failure and, in time, depression. “Many women, because of the way finances have gone, have to go out to work. At the same time, they’re trying to rear young children and keep relationships going. At the post-natal stage, women can be very much at risk of suffering from depression. It’s a highly stressful time in a woman’s life,” says Dr Barry, adding that some women compound their stress and depression by turning to alcohol. Approaching depression holistically is important, says Dr Barry. He stresses the importance of 30 minutes of exercise every

day “both to treat depression and to prevent it. “Nutrition is important and taking alcohol should be stopped immediately. If your depression is very significant in that you’re struggling to get through the day, you may need drug therapy for six months or so to try and bring your mood up so that you can start dealing with issues in your life.” Describing himself as “a huge fan of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)”, Dr Barry says it challenges negative thinking and feelings of being worthless. “The important thing is to reshape the brain so that not only can you get over a bout of depression but you can build things into your life like CBT, exercise and mindfulness that can make a difference as to whether or not you get another episode of depression.” Where a person experiences depression, particularly a severe bout, it can affect their motivation to seek help, says a spokeswom-


an for Aware, the organisation that supports people with mental health problems. “But we would remind people that accessing information and support can help greatly in alleviating depression. The Aware Helpline (1890 303302) and support groups offer a safe and confidential environment for people to talk through their particular concerns with someone who really understands how lonely and dark the condition can be. “When people are in that darkness, it may feel like there are no options but there are always options and it can take someone else to shine a light on what there are. I would encourage anyone who is suffering as a result of depression to reach out for help and remember that other people do understand and want to help.” ■ Depression Awareness Week starts on Monday. For information log onto:




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Mindfulness can teach us a lot about how to handle stress and its often serious health implications

Taking care of you

Mindfulness in a Time of Change Based on MBSR ..... stress reduction and deep relaxation through (i) Meditation (ii) Body awareness (iii) Simple mindful movement

8 week course offered at 3 separate times: Beginning Mon. 15 Feb. Vienna Woods • Tues. 16 Feb. O’Donovan’s Hotel, Clonakilty • Wed. 17 Feb. Vienna Woods. This programme can help if you need assistance in learning to be present and in the reduction of stress. Should you suffer from anxiety, fear, worry or fatigue this course will clearly help you. For more detailed information, bookings & brochure phone Barry 086 8654326

Facilitators: John Cully and Rosemary Treglia


€175 Cork 30th & 31st Jan Tel 451 5635 & 087 3262549

Tony Humphreys


HE relief of stress and other illnesses is a multi-billion euro industry. A cough, a cold, a headache, a stomach-ache sends the sufferer scurrying to the medicine cabinet or pharmacy in search of a ‘cure’. There are over-the-counter medications that either lead to the digestive tract slowing down or speeding up, others to relieve heartburn or neutralise excess stomach acid. There are also multiple pain killers available. On prescription you can get drugs to reduce anxiety — Valium and Xanax — to decrease secretion of stomach acid — Tagamet and Zantac — and anti-depressants for alterations in mood. The problem with the widespread use of many such medications is that, even though the symptoms are temporarily alleviated, the underlying issues — physical or psychological or social or spiritual — are often not addressed. Symptoms arise to tell us something is out of balance. If we ignore these messages or, more alarmingly, suppress them, it may only lead to more severe symptoms and a deepening of the unresolved underlying issues. What is more disturbing about people’s reliance on medication is they become dependent on them and do not learn how to listen and trust their bodies. An alternative approach to drug cures is direly needed. Fifteen years ago a stress-reduction clinic was set up at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is an eight week programme and consists of eight two hour classes plus a one-day workshop. The course is called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is based on the essential teaching of Buddhist teachers such as Tich Nath Hahn and Echart Tolle. Mindfulness is more than a meditation practice, that in itself can have profound medical and psychological benefits, it is also a way of life that reveals the tender and loving wholeness that lies at the heart of our being, even in times of great pain and suffering. The MBSR course is a unique synthesis of East and West — of meditation and yoga with science and mainstream medicine. The individuals who attended the courses over the last 15 years were referred by their doctors for a wide range of medical conditions — headaches, high blood pressure, back pain, heart disease, cancer and Aids. A particularly helpful part of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme is


Release YOUR potential

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Eight Thursday Evenings Starting January 28th Jurys Hotel Cork Call 021 4826022 or 087 2426889 or 086 2413963 Visit

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that attendees are taught body consciousness and a body scan method that enables them to get to know their own bodies. The course emphasises that by training people to listen to their bodies that they make intelligent decisions about obtaining medical attention for any identified pain or discomfort. The work of mindfulness is always carried out in conjunction with all the medical treatments that may be required to relieve pain. It is not meant to be a substitute for but it can be a vital complement to medical treatment. Does the MBSR programme work? The evidence to date suggests a dramatic therapeutic effect. Before individuals begin the programme they fill out a questionnaire in which they identify from a list of more than 100 common physical and emotional symptoms — the symptoms they have experienced in the preceding month. They repeat this exercise at the end of the course. The average number of symptoms out of 100 possibles is 22. When people finish the course the average drops to 14 — showing an average of 36% fewer symptoms. This is a dramatic change in a short period of time, especially for people who have had these symptoms over quite a while. What is even more reassuring is that several follow-up studies indicate that the improvements gained were maintained. Indeed, most participants rate their training as very important to their improved wellbeing. All in all, the course has considerable therapeutic effects on such conditions as stress, chronic pain, anxiety and panic, headaches, back pain, high blood pressure, psoriasis, acne, insomnia, fatigue. The MBSR course is now available in Ireland and is being offered by several practitioners throughout the country. For bookings contact 086-8654326 or for details on courses contact John Cully on 087-2139076.


PILL POPPER: The MBSR programme, a blend of Eastern and Western approaches, can help guide people away from stress-relief medication. Picture: Corbis

■ ■ Dr Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist and author of several books on practical psychology, including The Power of ‘Negative’ Thinking.


Thursday, January 28th, 2010

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Is it ever okay to smack your child when laying down the law? Father of two Joe McNamee looks at the debate raging over parenting styles and talks to the experts

TOEING THE LINE: Firm but fair or tough love? M

THE MAGIC COMBINATION: Love, support and encouragement, the ability to set consistent rules and the discipline to see those rules are adhered to





Picture: iStock


it constitutes the bones of extremely sensible parenting. “Parents can’t be too lenient,” says O’Reilly. “They need to be firm but I’m not too sure about the tough love. Some discipline is a sign of love and often kids don’t feel loved if boundaries are not specified and enforced.” “Firm but fair would be a much better description,” suggests Coleman. “Discipline is a much broader term than just punishment and the classic method of discipline is to notice and reward the positive behaviour, praise them for being good and then put in place punishment or consequences when they are not good.” If some of the hype surrounding building character might be dismissed as a matter of semantics, there can be no ambiguity about conclusions drawn from her research by Marjorie Gunnoe, Professor of Psychology at conservative christian university Calvin College, Michigan, USA. Gunnoe said she had empirical evidence to support her contention that children smacked between the ages of two to six would grow up to be happier and more successful adults than those not smacked. Smacking after that age, according to Gunnoe, produced more negative than positive effects. She defined smacking as a “slap of the hand on either the hand, legs or buttocks”. Gunnoe’s report may not have been not been published in any professional journals and was rejected by the US Journal of Family Psychology but it did not stop the mainstream media from recycling it as indisputable fact. Debating her report with Fergus Finlay on Today FM’s The Last Word recently, it also became clear Gunnoe was not merely presenting research data but that the results also accorded with her worldview, as she volunteered the information that she used regular slapping to discipline one of her three children. “The notion that you can model an appropriate form of physical punishment,” said Finlay, “the ages at which it can be used, the ages at which it can be stopped, the notion that children understand what is going, it’s all just absurd, it’s nonsensical.” When Finlay asked Gunnoe if her research included any questions about fear or fear of parents relating to physical punishment she admitted it did not. After the programme, Finlay is in a reflective mood: “I have a memory of when



OST parents accept they have an enormous part to play in moulding future, kind, happy and well-adjusted adults but it’s not all Goodnight Moon stories and tucking up at bedtime. At some stage, each and every parent will know the horror of standing in the supermarket aisle as Apple-of-Eye achieves meltdown next to frozen foods. As other shoppers’ heads swivel, jaws dropping in appalled awe, you suddenly realise the only creature you are moulding for the future is some hideous reincarnation of Pol Pot himself. Most adults in Ireland were smacked as children — more than a few experienced “discipline” of a rather more severe nature, but physical punishment has largely fallen from societal favour. We repeatedly hear the mantra, “didn’t do me any harm”, but besides the fact such opinions can hardly be offered objectively, we now have a generation of parents who believe the only really effective disciplinary tool has been removed and have little or no idea what to do instead. Parenting gurus have raced to fill the vacuum but Bernardo’s CEO Fergus Finlay says: “No models of parenting really take into account the stresses and strains you live with: you come home exhausted at the end of a lousy day, you find an ESB bill you can’t afford to pay, everyone is in a ratty mood and you’re supposed to remember that effective parenting is about loving relationships and knowledge of boundaries. Human life ain’t that way.” Which is possibly why two academic reports, one promoting tough love and the other advocating the smacking of children, should have achieved such astonishing international attention in recent weeks. Building Character, authored by Jen Lexmond and Richard Reeves of British think-tank Demos, tracked 9,000 families and concluded, parents who practised a tough love approach raised children who were more empathetic, emotionally stable, better able to apply themselves and achieve success. In fact, Lexmond and Reeves, hadn’t stumbled across some radical new trend in parenting but were simply employing definitions that have been standard in psychology for over 30 years: laissez-faire (or permissive), authoritarian, authoritative (re-christened, tough love) and disengaged. Tough love is usually defined as harsh or stern treatment designed to benefit the recipient in the long run and prior to the Demos report often described boot camps for troubled teens with extremes of behaviour including drug addiction and violence. Such camps have remained controversial and many have been openly accused of child abuse but Lexmond, while acknowledging an “excellent media run”, denies the term was used to attract attention. Speaking to the Irish Examiner from Demos’ London office last week, she said:



Picture: iStock

“It doesn’t surprise me people have been seizing on that term because of the connotation the term has but I wouldn’t accept that as a criticism of our using that term. “I certainly would not be happy to hear of any group using our report to justify extreme behaviour towards children,” says Lexmond. “Nowhere in the section describing tough love parenting does it advocate hitting children or any form of physical or corporal punishment. The two main elements as we would see them are love, support and encouragement and the ability to set consistent rules and the discipline to see those rules are adhered to, that’s the magic combination.” Yet, a Daily Telegraph journalist, while acknowledging the report does not advocate physical punishment, had no problem in making the leap to condone smacking her own child.


Not only has the report been covered in the mainstream global media but it has attracted equal attention from many fundamentalist religious groups. Family First New Zealand, part of the global and socially conservative Family First group, and advocates of the parent’s right to physically punish their children, seized on the report as further corroboration of their preferences. In Ireland, the right-wing Catholic newspaper, Alive!, made it a frontpage lead, trumpeting it as a challenge to “modern, liberal ways of child-rearing”. Irish clinical psychologist David Coleman and Rita O’Reilly of Parentline agree





■ PAGE 10: Irish experts give their view ■ FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 2010


I was a kid — and it wouldn’t have been alien to the culture — of being told to wait until my father got home and, when he got home, of getting two or three belts of the slipper on the behind. “Now I can’t say it hurt me or did me any harm but my strongest memory of the situation is of his arrival home and the terror so that’s why I asked her those questions. I thought her answer was very revealing of herself, she said there was a great deal of empirical evidence about the value of shame as a deterrent, for example, the diminution of shame in young people had led to an upsurge in premature sexual activity and teen pregnancies, apparently. I have no doubt whatsoever that an ability to resist peer pressure, an ability to make better choices, an understanding of the difference between right and wrong are all very important things where young people are concerned but to base them on fear and shame doesn’t seem to me to be productive, to be relying on negative forces to enable a child to develop and grow.” Like Finlay, I too am a product of my times and was regularly subjected to corporal punishment as a child, both in school and at home. Unlike Finlay, I make no bones in saying it did me harm, physically and mentally: corporal punishment did not teach me one single thing about the difference between right and wrong but it did teach me most of what I know to this day about fear and anxiety. No surprise, so, that I should choose not to hit my own children. Yet, one day, when my eldest son was about nine, I completely lost my temper and gave him a slap on the leg, the first time I had ever laid a finger on him. His reaction as he looked up at me was immediate and unforgettable and nothing to do with pain: astonished anger, hurt and, most of all, utter betrayal. I never hit him again and to this day I can still work up a nice well of guilt thinking about it. Now, a kind, mannerly, intelligent and very popular young man of 20, he is an ideal testament to an upbringing I hope was firm, fair, very loving but not at all tough.






DIFFERENT STYLES HE four parenting styles as deTDemos fined in Building Character, the report authored by Jen Lex-

mond and Richard Reeves are:

Tough love (more commonly defined as authoritative) A warm and responsive approach to child rearing with firm rules and clear boundaries. Parents are assertive without being aggressive or restrictive and the aim of disciplinary methods is to reason with and support the child rather than to be punitive. Children from ‘tough loving’ families are characterised as cooperative, self-regulating and socially responsible. Laissez-faire (or permissive) Parents who are undemanding in approach to discipline and generally non-confrontational. Nontraditional and engaged in approach, opting for a lenient and democratic household that allows children considerable opportunity to develop at their own pace. Authoritarian Characterised by firm discipline and rule-based practices but without much regard for children’s feelings or perspective. Typically these parents value obedience and structured environments over freedom and exploration. Disengaged (and, at the extreme, neglectful) Generally hands off in their approach. Low in warmth and discipline. Extreme cases make up a further group of poor parents whose children are ‘at risk’: a level of disengagement of a small minority of parents that would be considered neglectful. The lack of engagement characterising this approach can result in development of what psychologists call ‘callousness’ in children. ‘Callous’ children learn to see others in a purely instrumental way.




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What the experts say


E ask some of our Irish experts their opinions on some parenting viewpoints.

■ Firm but fair, the expert way DAVID COLEMAN “You definitely have to set limits for children, you have to let them know what’s right and wrong. At the same time, you have to be understanding because they will have feelings about that so rather than simply laying down the law, you might say, ‘I know you’re finding it hard, tough, but that’s the way it’s going to have to be’. “That’s the warm and responsive bit — you’re not just coldly doling out punishment, left, right and centre with no explanation.” RITA O’REILLY “Be open with them, talk with them, make sure they know the boundaries, either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes you will have to tell them exactly, maybe dealing with an entirely new situation, other times they might mimic what you do and often you don’t even have to say it. “In a lot of cases, it’s no harm to give an explanation as to why you are disciplining them or imposing a boundary even when they are quite small and you have to modify the language. Usually it is for their safety, now and in the future.”

Picture: iStock

■ Crime and punishment: disciplining children DAVID COLEMAN “Most punishments will fall in the line of removing some sort of privilege, something the child feels entitled to, such as watching telly. It has to happen straight away so a child will associate the behaviour with the resulting discipline but it also has to be reflective of what the behaviour was. Say, if a child spilled their glass of milk on the kitchen table, a natural consequence would be having to clean it up — an unnatural consequence would be getting sent to bed for making a mess of the kitchen table. “If the child refuses an assertive parent will say: ‘You are going to clean it up and I’m going to help you if you want me to because I know your small and it’s hard to clean up milk. So here’s the cloth and I’ll help you wipe up some of it. And then you can wipe some more and put this dirty dish into the dishwasher and then we’ll both put the dirty cloth into the washbasket’. RITA O’REILLY “For older children, 12-13 up, experts say discuss it with the kids, what they think should be the sanction. They often come up with interesting things, but obviously that wouldn’t work with younger children. “I don’t like grounding them, saying you can’t go out for the next week or go to your bedroom. A bedroom should be a pleasant, happy place, particularly for when the child is going to bed. I don’t think it’s helpful to have it associated with punishment. “I am also careful about using something like, let’s tidy up the room — you don’t want them to see household chores as a punishment.” ■ The tantrum: discipline is one thing but how do you defuse the dreaded tantrum?

“You take a break from it, you take them outside, away from all the attention they might be getting from all the other people who are there, to a quieter place where they might have a chance to calm down. “Most children have a tantrum because they want to be noticed or because they are trying to influence or sway someone else. Usually if you take away the audience, they calm down quite quickly or if you empathise it takes a lot of the intensity from the tantrum. Try saying something along these lines: ‘I know you are really bored, I know you don’t want to walk around the shops but unfortunately if we don’t walk around the shops there won’t be any food for us to eat tomorrow. I know you want food and I want food but we’ll take a little break and come back in when we’re all feeling a little bit more calm’.” RITA O’REILLY “No child ever threw a tantrum without an audience — ignore them, don’t remark on it, don’t engage with them at all. It’s the old one about ignoring the bad behaviour and rewarding the good behaviour. “When the child has calmed down, some time after the tantrum and they are being well-behaved, you can say something like, ‘You’re a very good child’.” ■ Should you slap your child? DAVID COLEMAN — NO “When parents say they have resorted to corporal punishment it is usually as a last resort, everything else has failed, which usually

EXPERT ADVICE: from top, David Coleman, Rita O’Reilly and Fergus Finlay.




means they are at the end of their tether, quite cross and wound up, which means the only time you hit the child is when you are not getting your own way or when you’re frustrated and angry which means when they themselves are frustrated and angry they hit out as well. “There is also the danger with any punishment system that it can become ineffective, so usually the response to an ineffective punishment is to up the frequency or intensity, so for a parent when the tap on the hand or the tap on the leg stops working, they may decide to hit a bit harder and that just puts children at risk.” RITA O’REILLY — NO “How would you feel if a nine-foot person gave you a slap? We teach our children not to be violent, not aggressive and then if we slap them we completely contradict ourselves. The slap is invariably given in anger. It is not a planned parenting decision, it is more about releasing stress and anger for the parent. Invariably the parent will feel much more guilty afterwards.” FERGUS FINLAY — NO “Slapping is about two people: it’s about the person being slapped and it’s about the person doing the slapping. I cannot see how it is possible to express one’s belief in effective parenting through physical abuse of one’s children. I slapped all my children years ago. I hope that they forgive me for it — in fact, I know they have forgiven me for it, thankfully, but it was always when I lost my temper. It was an expression of my loss of control and I believe 90% of slapping happens because the parent has had enough, has lost control. And you can’t define a model of corporal punishment when that’s the reality.”




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SIZE MATTERS JANUARY is not a good time to go on a diet. We need to keep our energy levels up and keep warm, so instead watch quantities and cut back a little. Eat warming foods such as ginger, grating it into stews, stir-fries and soups. Eat plenty of garlic and onions to keep colds away. Other warming foods include: ■ parsnips ■ butternut squash ■ sweet potatoes ■ kale ■ citrus peel (make hot lemon drinks with sliced lemons and honey) ■ dates ■ cherries


SPECIALLY Selected Sweet Tomato Irish Country Relish is good to add to stir fries and also goes well with cabbage. Hot from mustard seeds rather than sweet as suggested on the label, a 320g jar is F1.99 from Aldi.


WICKLOW Blue Farmhouse Cheese, established in 2005 and a multi-award winning product, is a good edition to Irish cheese boards. Like Cambozola, it’s a cross between a Camembert and a blue cheese, nicely creamy, with a slightly salty tang which is delicious on brown bread or added to stir fries to make an easy sauce. Made from cow’s milk with vegetarian rennet, it’s available in speciality food stores 150g F3.99. For nearest stockist: Picture: iStock



ABBAGE doesn’t sound like the basis for exciting meals, but for vitamin value and euro stretching it’s a super-veg. It can also be added to many dishes so it’s not the main feature, but still delivers its power. Known in the past as medicine of the poor, cabbage could well become a recessionfighting piece of kit, keeping us healthy as well as even curing some ailments. If the thought of a dull cold January and February depresses you, you may even find that cabbage helps lift your spirits with its iron and folate which is particularly good for women of child-bearing age. All types of cabbage have health benefits, but it’s always a good idea to vary the colours, making the best of what is available, fresh and local. Red cabbage is traditional at Christmas so over the festive season I experimented and came up with the recipe on the right is quick and easy to cook. If we are watching euros, we need to keep an eye on cooking time and not waste energy. This recipe can


Staying in the red Easy Red Cabbage

Roz Crowley be cooked in a pot, but place a steamer (a strainer with a lid on will do) over it and cook potatoes or any other vegetables at the same time. Towers of food over heat saves huge amounts of energy. We can even steam fish, chicken and bacon to make the best of resources. ‘Mucilaginous’ is the buzz word of the cabbage world and means mucous-producing, which is good news for the health conscious. When we produce mucous from cabbage it has a healing effect on the digestive system

which means ulcers can be prevented or even healed. For a cure, cabbage is boiled and a cupful of the soup from it drunk a few times a day between meals for a few weeks, even after you feel better. Add other fresh vegetables such as celery to make it taste better and vary the flavour. In natural healing medicine, cabbage is also used to cure constipation and even helps the common cold. When the digestive system is healthy, the skin benefits, so expect to glow when you have got into the cabbage habit. It can even help acne. While I am always slow to promote claims about cancer prevention, studies have shown low rates of some cancers in countries where cabbage and other brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pak choi, cauliflower, kohlrabi, spinach and kale are eaten regularly. Particular glucosinolates in the vegetables act on damaged cells as well as preventing cancer cells from developing. The USA National Cancer Institute observed a slowdown in the spread of colon cancer in people with a high cabbage intake.


Half red cabbage 3 onions 2 tbsps crab apple jelly or any sweet chutney Pinch salt Pinch sugar 100ml water Cut the onions and cabbage into the same size fine slices. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and lower the heat so it steams gently. Fifteen minutes should be enough to soften. Add the jelly or chutney and continue to cook for another five minutes. Serve on the side with hot or cold meats — lamb and venison are particularly delicious, along with any kind of burger. Good on toast too. Keeps in fridge for at least a week.



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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

HAVE you any suggestions as to how to help my seven year old son with his homework? He can’t seem to sit still for more than five minutes, and as soon as I turn my back he’s out of the room, watching TV. I often end up losing my patience with him. Is it normal for boys of this age to behave like this? Other mums I have spoken to have said it is, and not to worry. I don’t want it to continue being a battle between us. A. It seems such a simple process, yet sometimes it can be easier to help someone else’s child with their homework without getting so emotionally involved. Homework helps children develop good habits and attitudes — it teaches them to work independently and encourages self-discipline and responsibility. A parent’s interest can spark enthusiasm in a child and help teach the most important lesson of all — that learning can be fun and is well worth the effort. Family involvement in education is crucial if we want our children to succeed in life. I would encourage you to speak to his teacher and ask if there any concerns about his work at school. You may want to mention the difficulties you are encountering at home. It may be that he is struggling in one or more areas, and this could explain why he is reluctant to engage with you. At his age, homework generally shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. If there are difficulties present, your school will be able to advise with regards to extra teaching or further assessment to rule out a learning disorder. In most cases this is not needed. It can help to set a regular time for homework, ideally the same time each day, after some free time when he comes in from school. Routine and structure helps most children concentrate and pay attention. Don’t leave it too late in the evening, or they will be easily distracted and too tired to concentrate. Turn off the TV, radio, computer and any other possible distractions. If he complains or moans, it can help to sympathise with him. Let him know you are on his side, but insist that homework is a priority. Help him to organise his work with a list of homework he can check off as he completes each task. Take frequent breaks, set a kitchen timer for say 10 minutes. Let him know how much time he has to go before he can take a short break. Don’t show disappointment if he doesn’t do it as well as you’d like or if he gets the answer wrong. Your job is to help your child work it out himself. Don’t be tempted to do his homework. This will not help him understand, teach him how to use information or become confident in his own abilities. Acknowledge and encourage his efforts, no matter how small. Reward him when he has completed his work.

TUNING OUT: Turn off the TV and any other distractions when your child is doing homework. Picture: iStock

It’s best to restrict TV to the evening, and limit it to not more than 30 minutes. When you watch programmes with your child, discuss them with him. Remember it is not a one size fits all when it comes to learning. Your son may find it easier to learn when he can visualise the information, by listening or by touch. Try to use everyday tasks and objects to help him. Talk to your child about what you are reading in the newspaper, or get him to help make up a shopping list. Encourage activities that support learning such as library visits, trips to the zoo or museum. At this age, he can also begin to get involved in chores that teach a sense of responsibility. Keep persisting and homework will be become part of his normal routine. Q. My newborn (now three weeks old) has a large, red mark on his forehead. I showed it to my doctor who said not to worry, it is just a “strawberry birthmark”. What would cause this and will he be left with it for the rest of his life? A. Birthmarks cannot be prevented and they’re not caused by anything done or not done during pregnancy. The cause of most birth marks is unknown. Sometimes

they’re inherited, but usually not. A “strawberry” birthmark is a type of superficial haemangioma. Haemangioma or vascular birth mark happens when blood vessels don’t form correctly, either there are too many of them or they are wider than usual. These type of birthmarks are usually raised, bright red and sometimes not visible until a few days or weeks after baby is born. Haemangiomas can grow quickly in the first six months of life, but usually shrink back and disappear by the time a child is between five and nine years old. Some, particularly larger ones, may leave a scar that can be corrected by minor plastic surgery. Most strawberry birth marks are found on head or neck, but they can occur anywhere on the body. Sometimes complications can occur if their location interferes with sight, feeding, breathing or other body functions. If the birth mark is large or clearly visible, people may ask questions or stare, It helps to have a simple explanation ready for when this happens. If you have an older child with a birthmark, talk simply and early about it. This makes children more likely to accept it as just another part of themselves, like hair colour. It’s important to see your doctor if it ever bleeds, appears sore or becomes infected.

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 Feelgood

EIGHTEEN months into her life not even Jesus the Nazarene could command my girl to rise, pick up her rattle, and walk. Her physio, the next best thing to a miracle-worker, has so far failed to break the bum-shuffling bind. Through a series of exercises, we’ve got her to her feet, but no further. When I attempt to plant her upright on the ground, she retracts her lower limbs like a scalded cat tossed on top of hot coals. To force her out of bum-shuffling complacency, the physio came up with a plan. “Sew the legs of her trousers together from the knee up to the crotch,” she said. “That will force her to keep her legs together and bring the bum-shuffling to a halt.” And so I stitched with all the finesse of a commi chef sewing the neck of the Christmas bird.

I produced the trousers at a time of the day I knew her mood would be good. I slipped them on over her tights and waited for all hell to break lose. For a moment she sat on the floor wondering what change had occurred. She tried to bring her knees up to her chest to start her bum-shuffling moves. I watched with bated breath, willing her to adapt. She would surely be forced to kneel — and a crawl would ensue at last. Instead she sat with legs straight ahead weighing up how best to proceed. Without batting an eyelid she wriggled her bum and shot from the room at speed. A Christmas gift of a trampoline was meant to tempt her to stand. Instead she sits on her worn-out backside, bouncing with her hands. Her technique for pushing a toy pram is not what convention dictates — to the


onlooker watching its approach, it appears to be travelling by itself. Only when the pram draws level is its source of propulsion revealed — a determined little girl with firm grasp on the handles, shuffling along on her rear. Her brother, a sympathy shuffler, gets down to her level to play. To get her to stand requires some degree of coaxing and plenty of support for her attempts. Only food can get her going without my intervention — for grub, she will go to any lengths. Place some pie on a table, lipsmackingly tasty, just in her line of sight and watch her shuffle towards it with breakneck speed before pulling herself upright. Like Napoleon’s men she performs well when her tummy is fully replenished. She believes, as they did, that an army marches on its stomach.




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My psoriasis treatment worked


ORE than 80% of people with psoriasis are embarrassed by their condition. That’s according to recent research from, which showed that psoriasis has a dramatic and lasting impact on people’s lives, potentially affecting their ability to pursue careers, educational opportunities and relationships. For Kevin Carthy, 28, psoriasis showed up just as he made the transition from primary to secondary school. “From the age of 13 to 18, the psoriasis was on my scalp, so it was hidden by my hair and didn’t bother me too much,” says Kevin, a singer and wedding organiser with Dublin Gospel Choir. “But, at 18, it broke out, became red and inflamed and showed up on my face, legs, arms, back, chest, groin and joints, and even under my nails,” he says. Not surprisingly, his confidence was dented, despite the solid support of family and friends. “I wouldn’t go out that often, because people would look at me and I felt they saw a skin disease before they saw me. When I did gigs with the choir, I would leave the room to change my shirt, because I didn’t want people seeing me. It was the same on sun holidays, I’d wear a T-shirt and go for a swim at the quiet part of the day, when the beach was less busy,” he says. Kevin’s story is similar to that of thousands

Deirdre DeirdreO'Flynn O'Fly-

ACTIVE LIFE: Kevin’s previous shyness has been replaced by a busy social life.

MOSTLY MEN with psoriasis, according to the research from the Psoriasis Association of Ireland and Abbott. It also highlighted that 85% of Irish respondents felt their psoriasis negatively impacted on their enjoyment of life. Specifically, two-thirds cited a negative impact on their social life and relationships. Kevin was lucky. His mother had psoriasis, so he had lived with the condition as a child and she helped him to stay positive through different treatments. “I tried every cream and therapy, including light therapy, and none of them worked for me,” he says. When he was 22, he had a breakthrough, finally, when, after visits to numerous specialists, a dermatologist diagnosed him with psoriatic arthritis within five minutes of meeting him. That diagnosis turned Kevin’s prognosis around. Biologic treatment for this arthritis worked wonders. A biologic is a protein-based drug produced from living cells cultured in a laborato-

ry. While traditional systemic drugs affect the entire immune system, biologics target specific parts of the immune system. “Within two weeks, the psoriasis was totally gone, it was unbelievable. I had just been expecting that my joints would settle down, but this was brilliant,” he says. Today, Kevin happily goes swimming and to the gym and lives life to the full.

Free health seminars at One-third fails to wash Royal College until May hands after toilet use TO learn more about your health, attend the free public health seminars held by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Held on the last Wednesday of every month, between January and May, topics include ethics in medicine, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, hospital infection and sexual health. Leading healthcare experts, including Professor Arnie Hill, Professor Hilary Humphries and Professor Hannah McGee, pictured, will deliver the talks. “The MiniMed Open


LIM WEEKLY: To S help with the goal of losing weight for 2010,

you many be interested in System: Slim the New Zealand Weight Loss Programme which was launched in Ireland on January 4. Now available in 20 pharmacies around the country, the System:Slim programme costs an initial joining fee of F99 which includes “a one hour health assessment with a trained consultant, a healthy eating and personal lifestyle program



Lecture Series affords people the opportunity to learn more about topical, health-related issues from leading experts,” says Dr Kevin McGuigan, director of the RCSI series. The series is free of charge, but registration is essential to guarantee a place. To register, log on to, or call 01-402 8662. Enrolment is on a first-come, first-served basis. Location is the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

and three core supplements, designed to support weight loss.” Then each week there’s a 15-minute consultation with the consultant, which costs F15. The aim of the weekly weigh-in is to help keep you motivated and focused on your weight loss goal, address any problems you might have and providing low-calorie recipe ideas and so on. For a full list of pharmacies and more details on the programme visit

A RECENT survey by hygiene expert Milton has revealed that one in three people in Ireland don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet. This leads to the spread of viruses, such as norovirus, rotavirus, colds and flu. All of these infectious viruses have a common enemy: clean hands. “To protect yourself, and your family, from picking up or passing on germs and viruses, it is important to be

thorough about hygiene,” says Dr Rosemary Leonard. “Keep your hands clean, and free from bacteria, by frequently washing them with soap and water, and using an alcohol-based hand disinfecting gel containing a minimum-stated 60% alcohol or ethanol, when you are out and about. Germs lurk on hard surfaces and fabrics, so make sure your house and work area is kept as clean as possible.”

■ Free copies of the new psoriasis patient information booklet can be obtained by writing to Psoriasis Uncovered, 15 Fitzwilliam Quay, Dublin 4, by email to, or by telephone at 01-6188408. ■ For information on the campaign visit:

DId you know...

At least 15% of strokes in Ireland are misdiagnosed

Source: Irish Heart Foundation

WeightDENTAL Loss for CARE 2010 ONLINE SUPPORT: Daily support and motivation are just the click of the mouse away with Perfect 10, a product which combines a slimming supplement with an online support programme. The manufacturers say it includes 10 nutrients, including green tea and B vitamins, and say Perfect 10 can help manage weight when used in conjunction with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise. The support club at includes diet and exercise advice, BMI calculator, recipes, etc. When you buy a Perfect 10 pack, F29.99 for 60 capsules from health food shops and pharmacies, you can log on to the support group using the password on the pack. More details are available from

NATURAL SUPPORT: Naturalife are also suppliers of Go-Cal 1,000, which contains six ingredients, including green tea and apple cider vinegar (a metabolic accelerator, appetite suppressant and kidney cleanser). Naturalife says this natural weight-loss support supplement works best when combined with five simple key steps: eating regular meals and smaller portions, eliminating snacks, increasing physical activity and being realistic about your weight loss. Go-Cal 1,000 is available from health stores and costs F22.99.


MANAGE HUNGER: Higher Nature’s FullStop! contains a patented extract from white potato that the company says is designed to help manage appetite naturally. According to the manufacturer, studies have shown that this potato extract increases the release of the body’s natural chemical CCK, which supports the feeling of fullness after a meal. As this extract helps you to feel full sooner, it may help you reduce calorie intake and therefore lose weight. FullStop! costs F43.35 for 60 capsules.




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The news on ... Lash lengtheners MASCARAS may have come on leaps and bounds over the past decade, but if you’re not exactly blessed in the eyelash department, a good mascara won’t work miracles. New from Mavala is a product, however, which claims to give you healthier, thicker and longer lashes in four to five weeks. Mavala Double Lash Cream, F9.95, is designed to be brushed onto clean lashes each night to do its work while you sleep. We’ve yet to try it, but we’ll report back in a month to let you know whether it’s transformed our lash life. Or not.

Emily O’Sullivan

Creamy soft and mellow tones are more flattering and kinder in this harsh winter weather


VERYONE’S moaning about the big freeze, but I like cold weather. What I don’t particularly like is our inability to prepare for it — ever. It rains a lot, but no one seems to own an umbrella. And when it snows, we panic. And so we moan. But cold weather can be downright lovely — especially if you’re holed up in a cosy log cabin somewhere, or bedecked in cashmere in front of a roaring fire. This is the stuff of dreams. Instead of languishing in the warmth, we find ourselves freezing at the bus stop in a pair of Converse and short anorak or trying to negotiate an icy footpath in F5 fake Uggs. It’s the same with winter beauty: while we should be celebrating the cold with deeply luxurious creams, mellow tones and silky textures, we seem to cover ourselves in fake tan, lash on the black eyeliner and hope for the best. MAC’s new collection is a great celebration of all things good about winter, though. Titled Warm & Cosy, there’s a soft, sensuous attitude here with relaxing essential oils, rich moisturising lotions and a range of make-up shades that have a soft-candlelight, creamy feel in tones of brown and nude. These are not going out colours — they suit snuggly wools and cashmere far better than leather trousers and lace, but they are beautifully flattering and very easy to wear. The best place to start adding a touch of comfort is with your base. Stripping things back to basics on the face and letting your real skin tone shine through is easy as can be. Fake tan looks downright dodgy in the winter, especially when the skin takes on more of a blue-ish tone. Give it a miss and

TAKE THREE Take three… Lip balms

Cosy up and try some

Brr...owns in the cold

instead treat your skin to a bit of wholesome goodness with a luxurious moisturiser, such as Trilogy’s Vital Moisturising Cream, F29.95, with comforting rosehip. For luxurious foundations in pale shades that give the skin a beautifully velvety texture, try Max Factor’s Second Skin, F21.50, which hits the right note between good coverage and a beautifully sheer finish. If you feel your skin needs more of a luminous pep-up, mix it with a little highlighter or luminiser. Also striking a chord this winter is Estee Lauder’s Resilience Lift Extreme, F42. It has medium coverage and is better suited to more mature skins, but the silky texture sinks into the skin and keeps it really well hydrated despite everything that the winter weather throws at you.

Colour wise, the look to go for is caramel meets nude. Don’t go too pale with the nude tones, though, you do need a bit of colour in the skin and lips at this time of year to prevent a Marilyn Manson effect. MAC’s Warm & Cosy covers a palette of shades that stretch from a super-pale bleached-out yellow (chamomile) to dark and sexy spiced tea. Uber-make up guru Bobbi Brown is a maestro of the nude shades and her cream shadow shades (particularly Long-Wear Cream Shadow in suede) are great ways of getting a pretty natural look. Make sure to match whatever creamy shades you are going for with a strong, lash-lengthening mascara to give the eyes good definition. All you need now is a roaring fire, a shag pile rug and Bob’s your uncle, as it were.

IF YOU’RE currently finding yourself a little crusty of lip, then you’re not alone. January is a time when our poor mouths get assaulted by the elements and you need a good deal of protection to keep things soft and supple. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Lips Soothing and Repairing Lip Balm, F5. Apparently, Vichy’s clinical tests have proven that 91% of testers reported that their lips were nourished and hydrated. It’s certainly a balm that does give an instantly soothing effect. And it lasts well, although it is quite greasy, so make sure to only use a little if you’re not a fan of slippy slidey lips. Score: 8 Burts Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, F4.95. This is Burt’s Bees classic lip balm, but it’s not for everyone. It has a distinct pepperminty aroma and a waxy nature means it’s not enormously spreadable. Still, it does give a very good shield from the wind and the cold, and does keep lips soft through the day. Score: 6 Clarins Extra-Firming Lip and Contour Balm, F39.50.This one is not just for protecting and hydrating lips, it’s also meant to firm them up. While we didn’t notice a tightened pout, it is a nice balm to use. It lasts ages and has a lovely silky feel, although, from a hygiene point of view, it’s not great, as you have to use your finger to apply it. Score: 6

STUFF WE LIKE Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream, F29.95. Trilogy’s rich moisturising cream is a great choice for the depths of winter. It has a texture that is rich without being excessively creamy and it keeps skin well hydrated throughout the day. 17 Lasting Fix Lipstick in Chocolate Éclair, F5.69. If you want a bit of depth to your caramely-nude look, then take it down the colour spectrum a little and opt for 17’s Chocolate Éclair lipstick. It’s not too brown to look


dodgily ’80s, but it does give a flattering effect. Ziaja Cocoa Body Butter, F9.99. There’s only one thing to spread on your skin this winter — and that’s cocoa butter. It’s richly moisturising and feels luxurious to the touch — just the thing to put on before slipping into a pair of silk pyjamas. Ziaja is a well-priced cocoa range with a good-quality body butter, butter creams and a butter body balm.

Estée Lauder Resilience Lift Extreme, F42. Some lifting foundations can give the skin a slightly weird look — almost elasticy — but Lauder’s new foundation has a delightful texture that retains moisture in the skin and blends well. Expect medium coverage and good staying power. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow in Suede, F24. Bobbi Brown’s cream shadows are just the ticket for this time of year and their nude and natural shades


are among the best around. Try the shades of suede and bone. Only problem is that they do tend to dry out in the pot after a while, but if you’re using them every day this shouldn’t be a problem. MAC Warm & Cosy Eyeshadow in Modelette, F19. This mid-tone caramel eyeshadow has a satiny texture and looks really pretty teamed with a nude or pale pink lip gloss.




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Q 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

I AM 35 weeks pregnant with my second child. During the first pregnancy I suffered from symphysis pubis dysfunction. This time round it has recurred and seems to be getting progressively worse. I had been attending physio and pilates to try and pre-empt it, but it came back at 30 weeks. I am currently having acupuncture and get some relief, but they are unable to insert any needles near the pubic bone where it is most painful. I am afraid it is going to get much worse as lifting my toddler and going up and down stairs is now getting painful. Do you have any advice on remedies which could bring relief? I am currently sitting on a ball and trying to do exercises which the physiotherapist gave me. It can be particularly painful when turning in bed at night and getting out of bed. I am 38 years old. A. It is rare that symphysis pubis causes birthing complications, so rest assured that delivery of your baby will likely be straightforward and bring relief from the pain and mobility issues associated with this condition. Some women experience ongoing issues in this area following the birth of their child, so the following information is also relevant to them. There is a chiropractic method known as the Webster technique which is often used specifically for pregnancy-related conditions such as symphysis pubis. Initially developed to help turn babies from breech to cephalic presentation, this method uses gentle adjustments with a focus on the pelvis, sacrum, spine and surrounding tissue. Back to Basics Chiropractic (with clinics in Dublin 01-2354975, and Louth 087-4150858) has practitioners who are specifically trained in this technique and are experienced in dealing with a range of pregnancy-related issues. I’m afraid this is one of those areas, much like morning sickness, where what works for one person may not work for another, and what was effective in a previous pregnancy may not be effective in the next. You may well have tried some, or all, of these ideas already in your efforts to ease the pain. Sitting on an exercise ball (also known as a Fit, Swiss, or Gym ball) is a great idea, and will usually help to bring some relief, as will avoiding lifting your toddler as much as you can possibly manage — this is probably the most difficult to put into practice in reality. Wearing flat shoes, taking relaxing baths when you get the opportunity (and provided that someone is available to help you in and out of the bath), swimming and pregnancy yoga are all useful things to try and you may find one or more that makes a real difference to you.

PREGNANCY PAIN: A calcium and magnesium supplement can help relieve symphysis pubis. Picture: iStock

Avoid squatting positions since they place strain on the pubic symphysis at the front of the pelvis, which is basically ‘loose’ due to the sacroiliac joints at the back of the pelvis being ‘tight’. Of course there are many other factors involved, which vary between individuals and pregnancies. Be wary of bracing the area — it can bring some symptomatic relief, but this is a time when the pelvis needs to be as flexible as possible rather than compressed, and may also cause compensatory pain and issues elsewhere in the spine. If you do find that support brings much needed relief, then be mindful not to use it constantly, and opt for a soft tubigrip support which is a compression bandage in the shape of a tube which you wear from your hips right up to under your bust. Finally, a calcium and magnesium combination supplement can help immensely, particularly if you feel muscle strain is a factor. This is also a wonderful remedy for helping with sleep and stress issues in the final weeks of pregnancy and the post-partum period. For those wanting to read more on how to help treat pelvic pain and instability, there is a great book by Cecile Rost called Relieving Pelvic Pain During and After Pregnancy: How Women Can Heal Chronic Pelvic Instability (available from where delivery is free worldwide). Q. Do you know of any Human Givens practitioners in the Cork area? I’ve

Megan puts the spotlight on:


Tinned tomatoes Fredrick vom Saal, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A (BPA), refuses to eat tinned tomatoes because the linings of tin cans contain the synthetic oestrogen compound, BPA. He says the acidity from tomatoes enables the BPA to be absorbed into this food. The alternative: Use fresh tomatoes, preserve your own in glass jars, or purchase tomatoes and tomato products in glass containers.


Corn-fed beef Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of books on sustainable farming, laments the


modern farming methods used widely in the USA where cattle are fed grains rather than grass. Fortunately, Irish cattle are raised on lush pastures and consequently have a much healthier profile of fatty acids and minerals than those fattened up on grains. The alternative: Enjoy the wonderful quality of local Irish beef.


Microwave popcorn Dr Olga Naidenko, a scientist for the Environmental Working Group avoids microwave popcorn as often the bag lining contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is linked to liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. PFOA is also thought to be associated with infertility. The process of microwaving ensures that the chemicals are absorbed by the corn

checked the website but all are in the Leinster area. And do you have any tips for mouth ulcers? I grind my teeth then bite my tongue. I'm drinking fennel tea, taking vitamin C and honey. Is there anything else? A. You are quite right, the only Irish practitioners registered with the Human Givens Institute are all in Dublin, Kildare, Westmeath and Cavan. It is worth contacting the practitioners on the list to find out whether or not they travel — often therapists work in conjunction with other clinics around the country. The other option would be to either contact the Human Givens Institute ( or the training college for Human Givens practitioners, Mindfields College ( Regarding the mouth ulcers, it sounds as if they are stress related since you are also grinding your teeth and biting your tongue. I suggest you spend some time consciously loosening your jaw, if you notice you have tensed up then simply drop your jaw open to help release the tension. You can also massage the area from the chin to behind the ears with your fingertips, using a gentle circular motion then tapping lightly with your fingertips. Check your oral care products for sodium lauryl and/or sodium laureth sulphate where mouth ulcers are an issue, as research shows the two are linked. Fennel would not be my first choice of herbal remedy, rather a myrrh tincture, of which you only need three to six drops in a little water to rinse with.

Five foods experts won’t eat and accumulate in your body. The alternative: If you like popcorn, then pop it the old fashioned way in a pot on the cooker.


Conventionally grown root vegetables Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board, states that root vegetables readily absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides from soil. Potatoes, for example, are often treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, they are treated yet again to prevent them from


sprouting. The alternative: Choose organic or spray-free root vegetables.


Conventionally grown apples Mark Kastel, codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a US farm-policy research group, believes that if autumn fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest“, apples would win. Recent studies have linked the cumulative pesticide load in our bodies with Parkinson’s disease. The alternative: Grow your own, or buy organic and spray-free produce. The highest chemical concentration is found just under the skin, so wash and peel conventional apples.




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New Year New Hair!

“I found that it was clinically

proven to stop hair loss in 94% of patients after six months of treatment and was suitable for both men and women, it was also totally pain-free with no side-effects.

WHEN 61-year-old Kerry grandmother-of-six Vivien O’Sullivan noticed that her hair was falling out more than normal she assumed that it was due to stress caused by a recent family bereavement. “I noticed it mainly when I washed it, the plughole in the shower used to clog up with hair,” said Vivien. “I started to really worry though when I woke up one morning and noticed several hairs on the pillow, I have always had really thick hair and my hair was definitely starting to thin out. “I was so worried about it that I went to see my GP,” says Vivien. “He said it could be a lack of iron in my diet so I started taking iron tablets. “Over the next six months I took lots of different supplements, as well as iron tablets, but the thinning seemed to be getting worse.” Vivien went back to see her GP who this time advised her that she should seek advice

from a hair loss specialist. Vivien visited several hair loss specialists and was advised by one clinic that her best option was a wig and by another that FUE transplant surgery was her best option. “I didn’t like the sound of either option to be honest,” says Vivien. “I was worried and unhappy with my hair loss but I didn’t feel as though it had deteriorated enough to wear a hairpiece! I basically just wanted to stop it from falling out and thicken it up.” Vivien considered the option of surgery but again decided this was too radical and extreme. “The most important thing to me was to stop it from falling out and to hopefully thicken it up,” said Vivien. “I was told that surgery would replace the hairs that had been lost but would not stop any further hair loss, I was at a total loss as to know what to do. “Then one day my husband called to say he was reading an

Vivien O’Sullivan article in the newspaper about a laser that can help to stop hair loss and to thicken existing thin hair without the need for any surgery, I researched into it on the internet and I found that it was clinically proven to stop hair loss in 94% of patients after six months of treatment and was suitable for both men and women, it was also totally painfree with no side-effects. “I then found there was a clinic in Cork offering this treatment, so I contacted them

and went for a free consultation, I discovered I was suffering from a condition called CTE (Chronic Telogen Effluvium). I was told this causes excessive thinning down the centre of the scalp and affects the hair’s growth cycles. It can also lead to androgenic alopecia, which can cause the hairs to get thinner and thinner until they stop growing altogether.” Vivien was informed that surgery was inappropriate as she was still losing hair, and was

also unnecessary as she still had the majority of her hair which could be saved and thickened using a combination of laser treatment and medication. “I completed my course of treatment just over nine months ago and I can’t believe the difference in my hair. It has stopped falling out and it has thickened up massively. I am delighted. I would recommend anyone who is worried about thinning hair to do something about it before it’s too late!”

No 2 Camden Place, St Patricks Bridge, Cork t: (021) 4552424

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Feelgood 15-01-2010  

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

Feelgood 15-01-2010  

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