Bowen banishes headaches and more

BOWEN Judith Kilgallon - Shoulder (2)
Judith Kilgallon practising Bowen

Eileen’s first thought when she went for a Bowen appointment was, ‘What absolute rubbish. The therapist twiddles me a bit, goes out and leaves me. Imagine my surprise then the next morning when my husband brought a mug of tea and two Co-Codamol as he usually does. I said, “I don’t need the co-codamol. My headache seems to have disappeared.” It just got better and better.’

Eileen is in her 60’s and has COPD but she was having such bad headaches that she couldn’t think clearly. ‘ My GP said that it was “my age” and that there was nothing that could be done and prescribed Co-Codamol. My brain wouldn’t function and I was in constant pain with my headaches. I found myself worrying that I was going through the early stages of Alzheimer’s.’

On the recommendation of a friend who had Parkinson’s Disease and had had great results, she decided to try Bowen Therapy. She went to The Therapy Company in St Anne’s on Sea and saw Judith Kilgallon, a Bowen therapist. ‘At the time Eileen was taking six Co-Codamol a day, had low energy levels, and couldn’t get up in the mornings. I used a diaphragm procedure on her to help with the COPD and expand the chest. This involves a movement on each side of the back and three on the front on the muscles under the ribs.’

When Eileen went for her second treatment she hadn’t had to use her inhaler for three days and her energy levels were amazing – she hadn’t had this much energy since she was in her 30’s. Eileen says, ‘My thumb which was a problem got better, my constipation got better and my breathing improved. When I went to have some tests the nurse said my breathing “had actually improved”.

Eileen decided to continue with treatments as she felt super charged and was up with the lark. She felt that Bowen had affected the way her brain works as the answers to quiz questions pop into her head and her husband is complaining that she has beaten him at dominoes for the first time in years.

She says she would recommend Bowen to others, ‘Particularly people of my age who are beginning to think that the things they’ve got wrong with them cannot be cured or improved and that they’re just stuck with them. People of my age group will be amazed. It’s not just physical – it’s mental as well!’

Read more about Bowen in : Bowen for Bear Grylls

Judith Kilgallon practises Bowen at The Therapy Company, St Annes on Sea, and The Mill, Preston, To find out more about Bowen go to: Bowen TPA,

Painkillers not best for headaches

Ironically and not before time NICE (the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) has reported that one of the most common causes of headaches is overuse of medication.  They advocate (quite surprisingly) that acupuncture is the only proven method to treat tension headaches and migraine and that it should be prescribed by doctors.

Those who take pills such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen for at least ten days a month over three months are said to be at particular risk of ‘medication  over-use headaches’, as they’re called.

Rhiannon Griffiths, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member says: ‘Acupuncture helps chronic headaches and migraine by treating both the painful and debilitating symptoms at the moment they occur, as well as the underlying root cause in the long term. The root cause may be a deficiency in the body, typically exacerbated by overwork, working long hours, burning the candle at both ends or a lack of proper rest and nourishing food.’

Acupuncture is a great way of dealing with headaches, but not the only one.  Osteopathy, chiropractic and Alexander Technique can be very helpful as the problem often emanates from tension in other parts of the body.

• Regular exercise helps to prevent headaches, particularly yoga, Pilates or T’ai chi which are relaxing and alleviate tension.

• Drink plenty of water (between 6 and 8 glasses a day) as dehydration is a major cause. • Avoid caffeine, chocolate or cheese if they trigger headaches in you.

• Skipping meals induces headaches, so always eat regularly and have healthy snacks in between meals.

• Drink herbal teas, particularly peppermint, when you feel a headache coming on.

• Try coconut water – natural replaces fluids in the body and is very refreshing.

Water, water everywhere

Nutrition consultant and independent consultant to the Natural Hydration Council, Dr Emma Derbyshire, said:  ‘We are at the greatest risk of dehydration when we are too hot or too dry, have limited access to water, or need more water than usual – such as in warm or dry environments. Make sure you always have access to water, even when out and about, and consider bottled water when you are on the move. If in doubt of advice, the Food Standards Agency provides a useful guide of 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day for the average person.’

Osteopathy and Migraines

Hector Wells an osteopath and member of the British Osteopathic Association runs a daily headache clinic in Banbury, Oxfordshire, ‘Headaches and migraines tend to start due to tension often in one of three areas of the body – tension in the pelvis, in the diaphragm or in the head and neck. Often the tension is greater on one side of the body and very often I’ve found that a migraine begins as a person starts trying to relax – a lot of headaches are associated with the start of relaxation.’

• Pelvic-led headaches can be caused by periods, following childbirth or an injury to the sacrum.

• Diaphragm-led  – food poisoning, abdominal surgery, tension/stress related – quite often accompanied with a tight shoulder more commonly the left – left or right shoulder tension is often symptomatic of  diaphragm tension.

• Head/neck led headaches – left or right imbalance, neck tension, postural problems or following an injury – whiplash or banging your head.

‘Some people never quite relax, and perhaps don’t even realise this. If someone suffers from headaches it’s because tension has built up in a particular area of the body causing an imbalance.’

Although massage can help relieve tension an osteopath actually seeks the cause and will align the body to balance the left and right sides, helping it return to its natural state. Osteopaths work in conjunction with existing healthcare and medication and many patients are able to move away from medication altogether when receiving osteopathic treatment.

Try Migrastick to stop a headache in its tracks – it contains essential oils of lavender and mint. You rub the stick on your head where it hurts and it helps to ease the pain. Click here to purchase. 

Hector Wells’ tips

• When suffering from a headache something as simple as a cold face flannel or using a water spray on the face can make a difference. Cold items on the face encourage the body’s parasympathetic system to release tension

• If you’re suffering from sinus headaches stand in the shower and let water run down your face. Pinch your nose at the bridge and push it from left to right, breathing at the same time, whilst the water runs down. Gradually change the direction and the pressure on bridge of the nose – this should help clear the sinuses

• When headaches are caused by diaphragmatic tension lower in the body, often associated with heart burn or indigestion it helps to put a heat pack on the front and back of the diaphragm and drink a warm drink at the same time to help relieve the tension and get your body to a relaxed state.

To find a registered practitioner in your area, call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit

To find a BOA member near you visit

For more information see the Essential Guide to Hydration factsheet





Alexander Technique helps kids who spend hours playing games

The Alexander Technique is a practical way of improving posture by restoring natural, easy posture and functioning and the proper balance and coordination of the head and spine. It reduces pain and undoes tension and stress. It’s a great leveller: creating self-awareness and development and improving overall wellbeing. The earlier a child learns it the better they can prevent problems in later life.

The STAT survey demonstrated that:
• 85 per cent of children (who are allowed to play games on such devices) spend up to four hours a day doing so.
• 78 per cent of parents are concerned about their child’s posture while playing such games.
• Parents are concerned that gaming and computer use affects their child’s wellbeing with lack of concentration (32.4 per cent), back ache (30.9 per cent), neck ache (26.2 per cent) and headache (31 per cent) all highlighted.

Angela East, of STAT, says: ‘Bad habits can be formed from a very young age which later lead to posture, mobility and other health problems in later life. The Alexander Technique is a great tool – it teaches you how to use yourself correctly so that you benefit from less stress and back pain and improved posture and wellbeing.

‘The key is to encourage good posture and sitting among our children and young people and the Alexander Technique helps prevent bad habits, such as hunching and slouching, from creeping in and affecting their health.
‘It’s not about stopping children from gaming and going on computers altogether, but they can do it equipped with tools and strategies designed to maintain good posture and therefore, good health.’

The technique was developed in the 1890s by Frederick Alexander, an Australian actor who was worried his hoarse voice would end his career. He discovered how to reduce tension and strain and allow his vocal organs to function well again – a principle that applies to the whole person, physically, mentally and emotionally.

STAT teachers across the UK are taking part in International Alexander Awareness Week (8th to October) and free introductory Alexander Technique lessons are available. The survey involved 975 parents across the UK whose children are allowed to play on gaming devices. To find your nearest STAT teacher go to
Read also our A-Z of Therapies.

Cut the drugs bill with complementary therapies

Wouldn’t the government love to cut the £8.2 billion spent every year on drugs? Wouldn’t it be great if doctors offered you some alternatives –  acupuncture  for the pains in your joints (instead of drugs), reflexology for your problems with conceiving (instead of fertility drugs), or chiropractic for your bad back (instead of anti-inflammatories), or hypnotherapy for your anxiety (instead of anti-depressants)?  

Despite the fact that 50 per cent of the British public have tried complementary therapies, there is still a concerted campaign by certain parts of the media and medical establishment to quash them, citing lack of evidence. The public, however, is not so concerned with scientific evidence (provided there are no safety implications, which in the case of gentle therapies there are not) and they just want something that makes them better.

Many people are driven to complementary therapies because there of lack of success with conventional treatments. For example, IBS, cystitis, multiple sclerosis, indigestion, headaches, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), migraines, eczema, asthma, infertility, back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and so the list goes on, are not always that well resolved with drugs, which tend to suppress symptoms rather than cure them.  However, they normally have to pay for them.

Lots of people choose to try acupuncture, nutrition, reflexology, homeopathy, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, in addition to their conventional treatments, or some prefer the more natural approach.   As the programme The Food Hospital has shown changing your diet can do wonders for your health.  And there are no side-effects, so what can you lose? If you try it and it works you’re better, if it doesn’t you haven’t damaged your immune system or encountered unpleasant side-effects.

A few enlightened practices offer access to therapies, and acupuncture is quite widely available on the NHS. Read our articles: Complementary Therapies on the NHS; NHS provision of complementary therapies: Visionary healthcare.