I love writing this page, and never more than when I get emails like this one from 60-something reader Jenny: ‘I wrote to you in April 2012 about my problem waking in the night with severe “what’s the point of living?” depression despite a good career, wonderful family and social life. I was advised [by pharmacist Shabir Daya] to take Magnolia Rhodiola Complex. It had a marvellous effect: it must be 15 years since I felt this good.’ Jenny has recommended it to others ‘who had little enthusiasm for daily life. They are all now content and calm with lots of energy.’
Magnolia extract helps relax muscles and nerves as well as reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to Shabir Daya. Trials show that rhodiola helps calm the mind, lift mood and restore sleep cycles without having sedative properties by increasing levels of the hormone serotonin and amino acid derivative theanine.
Another woman reports good results from ‘talking therapy’ via Skype. The website mootu.com offers a register of over 100 qualified and accredited therapists who give face-to-face sessions on Skype. Single mother Su Golt had ME/chronic fatigue syndrome with chronic depression. ‘Mootu gave me the freedom to choose a therapist without having to travel, take time off or pay for childcare. My therapist provided useful insights. Together we’ve nailed the pattern of behaviour that had me chasing my tail, and I’m learning to break this cycle.’
Psychotherapist Phillip Hodson says: ‘Being in an environment of your choice with more control over the process apparently makes Skype therapy clients more relaxed and willing to share their fears.’
SHAKE, RATTLE AND ZUMBA
Most New Year ‘must exercise’ resolutions evaporate fast, but there is a fun way of getting fit. Several colleagues swear that Zumba, the dance exercise workout to Latin music, has revolutionised their lives.
Jane, 50, has lost over a stone and a half. ‘I haven’t dieted, but it’s helped to change the way I eat. I’ve stopped snacking and drinking wine in the evenings because I go to Zumba classes three times a week instead. I’m back to a size 12, and my toned thighs are a bonus.’
Catherine, 48, agrees: ‘My whole body is much more toned, particularly my bottom – and it’s such a fun and social way of exercising. I’ve made lots of new friends and we go for coffee afterwards. It took a few weeks to get the hang of it, but now I’m hooked. My class is led by ballroom dancer an ex-professional and I’ve learnt the basic steps of all the Latin dances from tango to rumba, just like Strictly. But people who prefer less complicated dance steps and a more aerobic workout would be wise to choose a teacher with a fitness instructor background.’
As Jane says, ‘There’s something about dancing that’s not just physical – it lifts your mood too.’ So no excuses, just find a Zumba class near you, via zumba.com, and think how you’ll look in a bikini!
THE TOPICAL DEBATE
Pregnant women with skin problems often worry about using topical steroids, according to the charity Wellbeing of Women (wellbeingofwomen.org.uk). Its researchers found no evidence that these preparations led to cleft palate, premature birth or stillbirth. However, women who used large amounts of strong topical steroids had an increased risk of giving birth to a small baby. The charity says that mild or moderate formulas are safe in pregnancy, but strong ones should be used only if essential, and the baby’s weight should be monitored in a specialist obstetric unit.