- A Collins’ family secret finally revealed
- The vitamin that is no more…
- …and how an iceberg lettuce can ease daily stress
If you saw me today, you’d be pretty shocked…
My hair’s sticking out at strange angles… there are bags under my eyes… my shirt is covered in sweat…and bits of furniture are lying all over the place.
Yes, a hurricane struck the Collins household last night and it was tough going for all of us.
Its name was ‘Ruth’, my overworked, underpaid, target obsessed sister-in-law.
By the time she arrived for dinner, an hour late, she was stressed from her day managing a radio sales office, barging through the front door as soon as I opened it, clutching a bottle of wine.
‘Ray,’ she gasped. ‘I need to see the special box.’
‘Now, Ruth,’ I said. ‘Don’t be hasty. You’ve only stopped smoking for a week.’
‘The box,’ she demanded. ‘I know you still keep it.’
‘Of course I don’t keep it,’ I said. ‘I gave up a long time ago.’
Ruth didn’t believe me. She was convinced that I still had a carved wooden box holding a secret stash of cigarettes which was part of a mental trick I used to quit.
This was something I had explained to her many…many years ago when I was trying to help her quit on one of the previous occasions she had attempted.
Once the kids came along I decided that smoking was no longer going to be one of my vices… but I needed a strategy to break the habit, and this involved ‘the box’.
You see, rather than face the horror of giving up, I wanted to believe that I still smoked, but that I was choosing not to.
The longer the box sat in my house, the more mental strength I would gain by never going in there.
Of course, I had emptied the box ages ago, pretty much as soon as I stopped smoking.
But inside it was something even more useful for giving up smoking.
And on this one occasion alone, I have decided to reveal my secret to you…
The secret inside the mystical box
Ruth was driving me mad by the end of the night.
She chewed on a straw, drummed on the table, and ranted insanely about some new company director who had doubled her workload and refused her a payrise.
By the end of the evening, as she and Lara began another sisterly bickering session, I was exhausted…completely at the end of my tether.
Ruth’s lack of nicotine was going to be the ruin of us all.
So I got my famous box down from the bedroom and offered it to her.
‘Really?’ she said.
Imagine her disappointment when she opened it and found just a tiny bottle.
‘Essence of white chestnut,’ I said.
‘And this is your SECRET?’ she looked mortified.
‘Well no,’ I said, ‘it’s my mother’s.’
The white chestnut cure for anxiety
My mother absolutely swore by White Chestnut oil for getting rid of cravings and anxieties.
For her it was a natural anxiety remedy.
Its effects were discovered by the bacteriologist, pathologist and homeopath, Dr Edward Bach, who studied medicine at Birmingham University and qualified as a physician in 1912.
By the 1930s, he had identified 38 basic negative states of mind and created a plant or flower remedy for each of them.
He claimed that white chestnut, (‘Aesculus hippocastanum’ for you Latin fans) ‘is the perfect natural anxiety remedy helping to reduce unwanted thoughts, worries and mental arguments, which intrude into the mind and stop people from concentrating on things that they should be doing.’
Many homeopathy devotees say that this makes a perfect aid when you’re giving up smoking, or have any other nagging thoughts or cravings.
You simply dilute two drops of White Chestnut in a glass of water and sip at intervals.
Simple as that.
When my mother gave up smoking, she swore by the stuff. And that was when she gave me the chestnut remedy. And for a while, I used it, too.
It’s hard to tell how much of an effect this homeopathic secret had on me, because Lara had told me to stop anyway, and I was going to do as I was told.
All I can say is that I never really started again, so it might well be worth a look.
Ask for it at your local health food store, it’s often the first thing they offer as a natural anxiety remedy.
The ignored ‘B-vitamin’ that could aid anxiety
As usual, I’ve painted an awful cartoonish picture of my sister-in-law. In fact, I love her dearly.
On a more serious note, there has been some search on another natural remedy for anxiety. In fact, medical research has found it to therapeutically effective in cases of depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Once upon a time an isomer of glucose called inositol was once thought of as a vitamin, and can sometimes still be found referred to as vitamin B8…
…although this is no longer the case as your body can make it from the carbohydrates that you eat.
You can also find inositol in foods like nuts, liver, wheat germ, whole grains and oranges.
Recent research has revealed that it plays a crucial role in the communication between your nerves and your cells.
If you remember my recent letter about glyconutrients, then you will know that our bodies need certain compounds so that it can recognise alien intruders in our systems – and deal with them quickly.
In this case, inositol also helps control the level of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the chemical linked to depression, migraine, bipolar disorder and anxiety.
The lower your levels, the more prone you are to these syndromes.
Experts consider inositol to be safe, with no side-effects, so if you suffer from panic attacks, depression and anxiety, you might want to seek it out.
Please remember that it’s no replacement for any therapy or drugs you may already be taking.
The capsules are available online and in health food stores.
A juice to save your life
To go with Ruth’s two drops of white chestnut, I also decided to try out a new juice recipe, designed to ease anxiety, nervousness and irritability.
In this case, it’s not one of my own recipes, but comes from a book called Super Juicer, by Michael van Straten.
He claims that, although iceberg lettuce has the least amount of nutrients, compared to other varieties it has a high level of natural calming substances called ‘lactones’.
It was used by the ancient Assyrians as a mild sedative (my strange fact for the week), so I thought it must be good enough for the stressed sister-in-law.
All you do is juice 3 apples, 2 oranges, 1 lemon and 2 handfuls of iceberg lettuce…
As for me, I’m going to tidy up the aftermath of our quiet family dinner party.