Hello and Welcome

Hello, and a very warm welcome to Panacea Holistic Health & Beauty, based in Swallowfield, Berkshire.

Please spend a few minutes checking out the various tabs at the top of the page which will tell you a little bit about what I can do for you, to help you feel good and look fantastic.

The site will be used to publish ‘News & Views’, about all things health and wellbeing, as well as information about appointments, offers and products.  ‘News & Views’ can be found below this post, or you can use the different search options, to the right and below.

To stay in touch please opt in to follow this site and/or click on the Facebook ‘Like’ button, both of which are to the right of this post.  If you would like to book an appointment, or order products please email me at panacea(dot)solutions(at)btinternet(dot)com or text 07970 509908.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit and have found something of interest to you.  If you have any comments or suggestions about what you would like either from Panacea Holistic Health and Beauty or from this site generally, please leave me a comment below and I will do my best to help.

With my thanks and kindest regards


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My Mission? To Help You Feel ‘Fit, Foxy and Fabulous’!

‘How are you going to do that?’ I hear you ask…

Well, to my mind there are a number of stages to go through to feel this way, but I am going to take your through those stages one step at a time so that you don’t have to give it a second thought.  Your job is simply to focus on you, after all, for us mum’s it’s not often that we take the time to do that is it?

I won’t be asking you to make drastic changes overnight, but I will be making suggestions as we go through the weeks and months to help you along the path to fabulousness.  It may be something to do with relaxation, it may be a little guidance on healthy eating, it could involve some weight loss tips, I may have a few pampering suggestions, there will certainly be something on moving more, and maybe even a special treat or two along the way.  One thing I can promise you is that I won’t be preaching or bullying you in any way, but encouraging you to be kind to yourself.  We should all show ourselves a little kindness every day.

For those of you that are in a hurry, I am delighted to be able to introduce you to the MUTU System. This program is ideal for those of you that want to be rid of your ‘mummy tummy’ however long you may have had it. It targets closing a diastasis (check here if you’re not sure if you have one), exercising to tone up and get a lovely flat tummy whilst losing weight, and healthy eating to help too. It will show you how this can be done whilst fitting it around a busy life. No gym membership, no diet clubs or fads, no calorie counting, no stress and with lots of kindness. Suitable for all mummies, whether your little ones are days, weeks or many years old. It’s never too late.  But don’t take my word for it, click on the box below, and read all about it from the lovely Wendy who devised the program.

The MuTu® System

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The Holistic Approach To Super Smooth, Healthy Skin

‘What’s a holistic approach?’ I hear you ask! I don’t think you can look at beauty in isolation from your health.  The choices we make in our beauty regimes have a direct impact on our health, and the choices we make that effect our health also impact our natural beauty.

Let’s take an example that I’m sure all mums are only too familiar with.  Has anyone ever had one, or a series of, sleepless nights??  How do you feel the next day?  Sluggish? Craving carbs and chocolate? Moody…snappy, short tempered, tearful, all of the above?  These are all examples of your mind and body reacting to a lack of sleep, and I’m sure you will agree that it’s a pretty unhealthy state to be.  So we’re not feeling great but how do we look?  Dark circles?  Drawn?  Pale?  Generally unwell?  It’s certainly not a good look! Before you reach for the latest super product let me save you from wasting your money right now; leaving aside make up, no amount of fancy creams and lotions can reverse the effects of a sleepless night!

So the principle of HOLISTIC health and beauty is to look after your health, and have a beauty regime that supports and compliments your health rather than sabotages it.

I have outlined below a practical application of this holistic approach to give you my trade secrets of super smooth healthy skin in 4 easy steps.

1 Exfoliate

I’m not going to recommend an exfoliating product (although if you want a treat there are some fabulous ones available from both Neal’s Yard and ARK) but a ‘bath lily’, or exfoliating glove. This way, you can exfoliate every time you shower, without it taking any more precious time.  Apply a small amount of shower gel, more on that in a minute, and give your body a really good scrub.  You need to be vigorous here, as if you are trying to get the grass stains off of children’s knees!  This will not only slough away dead skin cells, it will also help to prevent ingrowing hairs, and stimulate your circulation.  This ensures that there is plenty of blood to deliver nutrients and fats to you skin and take away toxins, all essential for healthy skin.

2 Clean

Avoid any shower gels containing Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) or anything similar.  These can damage the outer layer of your skin, they are known skin irritants, they can modify your skin structure to enable the penetration of your shower gels ingredients, they are a known cause of dermatitis, and they aggravate eczema and psoriasis.  The end result of all this is that, at best, they will leave your skin damaged, tight and dry. I’m pleased to say that toxin free, skin friendly alternatives are available from both Neal’s Yard and ARK.

3 Moisturise

…if you want to, but do steps 1, 2 and 4, and you really won’t need to!

If you do want to, maybe for a special occasion, again avoid SLS and mineral oils such as PARAFINIUM LIQUIDIUM.  This sits on the surface of the skin and forms a film, blocking pores, and trapping in toxins and irritants.  Choose instead natural oils and butters which will simply keep the skin supple and feed it nutrients.  Again, Neal’s Yard and ARK can be relied upon to provide just these kind of products.

One of my personal favourites

One of my personal favourites

4  Take a Fish Oil Supplement.

This is, arguably, the most important step, particularly when you consider the added benefits for your brain, heart, joints, hair and fingernails! (There’s that health/beauty connection again)  Not all fish oil is equal however so choose one that is derived from the flesh of small oily fish.  Avoid fish liver oil as the liver is the organ that processes toxins,   and avoid oil from large fish as the risk of toxins accumulating increases the higher up the food chain you go.  You should take a minimum of 500mg DHA and 750mg EPA a day, and this product from Alimen ticks all the boxes.  If you also eat oily fish this is a bonus!  How can I be so sure that this is important for healthy skin?  If you take too much fish oil, your skin and hair will become greasy!

Just a teasoon a day, also available in capsules

Just a teasoon a day, also available in capsules

I can supply all the products that I have mentioned here;  Neal’s Yard‘s organic products, ARK skincare who are a natural spa brand, and a range of supplements, including fish oils in capsule form, an oil, and a children’s oil too.  I also offer a refill service for your shop bought shower gels and shampoos which are no frills, natural products without the branded price tags.  All products are available to order online or in person and I donate up to 10% of the value of all sales when you mention one of my ‘good causes’.   

If you have success with rediscovering your super smooth, healthy skin let me know in the comments below.  You won’t believe how simple it really is🙂

Posted in ARK Skincare, Beauty, Good Causes, Health, Neals Yard Remedies, News and Views, Products, Wellness, Wellness tools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Affordable, Toxin Free Skincare…Is There Such a Thing?

Well, the short answer is that it’s not easy to come by.  For many households, the expense of supplying the whole family with ‘safe’, everyday skincare products is simply prohibitive.  This doesn’t sit well with me as I strongly believe that everyone should have access to products that are not only safe, but beneficial to use, and so I set out to find a solution.

Photo Credit: Maya Picture/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: Maya Picture/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I already recommend Neal’s Yard Remedies, which is one of the ‘cleanest’ brands available, not only avoiding all potentially toxic chemicals, but choosing organic ingredients where possible, together with ARK Age Aware Skincare products which also avoid the most widely accepted chemical ‘nasties’.  Both these brands deliver high performing products that are a pleasure to use, but at a price that is not accessible to all.

Following the news over the summer from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regarding exposure to environmental toxins in everyday household products, it is clear to me that there needs to be an affordable alternative.  Whilst acknowledging that the products were unlikely to be ‘truly harmful for most babies’, they went on to say that ‘based on current evidence, it is impossible to give an accurate assessment of risk’.  Of course, the skincare industry immediately responded saying that there was no need for anyone, pregnant or otherwise, to worry.   “The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has advised pregnant women to take a ‘safety first’ approach to cosmetic products and the good news is that there are already strict laws in place for cosmetics that allow us all to do just that.”  Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

Whilst the individual chemical ingredients used in the manufacture of our skincare products are individually tested, what they simply cannot replicate is the long term use of the cocktail of chemicals that we are exposed to through our entire skincare collection, never mind the food that we eat, and the air that we breath.  My own view has always been that where possible I will reduce my exposure to environmental toxins.  I have to accept that I have little control over the quality of the air that I breath, but I can control what I put on, and in, my body ie my skincare and food choices.

So, I am very excited to be able to offer an affordable solution for two of the most heavily used products, Shower Gel and Shampoo.  They are both made from natural, toxin free ingredients and, to keep costs to a minimum, are available only as a refill service.  My family and I have been using these products for a number of years, including my children from around a year old.  Here’s what you need to know:-

Natural, Toxin Free, Refill Service

 Bring your empty store bought shampoo and shower gel bottles for refilling with natural, toxin free, unbranded products.  The ingredients are listed below.


water (aqua); aloe vera (aloe barbadensis); decyl glucose (decyl glucoside); guar gum (guar gum); apple cider vinegar (acetic acid)

 Bath/Shower Gel

water (aqua); decyl glucose (decyl glucoside); xanthan gum (xanthan gum); apple cider vinegar (Acetic Acid)

 £1.35 per 100 ml

As with all the products I sell a charity donation will apply to all orders; full details can be found here. To order please contact me in the usual way, or message me via the Facebook Page.

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Family Friendly Healthy Eating – Chick Pea Curry

The term ‘healthy eating’ means many different things to so many people. Low fat, low carb, low GI, low calorie, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, grain free, the list goes on. For me, unless you have a dietary intolerance, or allergy, healthy eating is all about doing more of the good things, and less of the bad, in a word it’s ‘moderation’.

I don’t believe that healthy eating is the preserve of adults alone. I have two small boys, aged 2 and 4 who eat the same food as me, and we eat at the same time. Meals and mealtimes are shared in our house, to be savoured and enjoyed.

My boys have been enjoying this recipe for a while. When they were very little I used to mash it down and they loved it. Now they have it straight out of the pan and it doesn’t ‘touch the sides’ making me a very happy, worry free mummy.


Here is what you will need to serve two adults and two small children, but I often double it up. It’s great for lunch the next day or even mixed with rice as a cold ‘salad’. It freezes too.

1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tin full fat coconut milk (I freeze the other half for next time)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 good tsp curry powder, or 1/2 tsp cumin and turmeric
5/6 blocks frozen spinach

A word about the ingredients, I use frozen spinach for convenience but fresh works just as well, just make sure you cram in as much as you can as it will disappear as soon as it has wilted down. For the garlic, ginger and chilli, if you don’t use it often, or are short of time, Sainsburys do them frozen into teaspoon sized cubes for a time and cost effective alternative. I use a korma powder for my little ones’ sensitive palates but you could use something more fiery and increase the chilli too. More generally, buy the best quality ingredients you can afford.

1. Heat some oil (I use coconut oil) in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion. A couple of minutes later add the garlic, ginger and chilli, stirring occasionally until soft.

2. Add the chickpeas and 1/3rd tin of water and simmer for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the curry powder, chopped tomatoes, and coconut milk, bring to the boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 mins or until the sauce has reduced to thick, tomatoey, creamy gorgeousness.

4. Add the spinach and continue to simmer until the spinach blocks have broken down. They will release extra moisture, but if it gets too thick you can add a little water here.

5. Serve with brown basmati rice, and a dollop of natural yoghurt if you like.

On a little ‘healthy eating technical point’ I serve it with brown rice as it’s the only rice we eat, but in this case the brown rice provides the amino acids missing from chickpeas to provide a complete protein source; this wouldn’t be the case with white rice. I also love that it is a meat free meal, which is good for our digestion, good for our pockets and good for the environment too. Oh and it has lots of fibre, and good fats, and of course spinach…need I say more?!

As well as the ‘feel good factor’ of knowing that my family have eaten a healthy meal it always leaves me feeling fully satisfied and somehow ‘lighter’ for having eaten a clean, wholesome meal.

Give it a try, ‘vegetarian’ food has never been so tasty!


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What is ‘Age Aware Skincare’?

Do you look in the mirror in the morning and wish you could wash away the years?  It seems to me that as we leave behind the  sleep deprived years of a young family and reach an age of self assurance, suddenly our appearance begins to age.  Or is it only now that we have the time to notice?  Whatever, it seems to be cruel timing.  For most of us the more radical solutions of surgery and/or fillers is either unaffordable or undesirable, so what is a girl to do?

Some of us look to overhaul our lifestyle to slow the effects of ageing, and many of us scan the shops and the media for a skincare range that can work miracles.  Most of the ranges available seem to take one approach, to offer a range of products according to your skin type; for oily skin, for dry skin, for mature skin, for combination skin.  Now here’s the thing.  The needs of a 20 something skin with fine lines and tightness is very different to the needs of a 60 something with the same problems.  Likewise a blemish prone skin of a teenager is very different to a blemish prone 40 something skin.  Even within these types our skin can present with different needs day to day, week to week and month to month; my skin certainly reacts differently to a cold wind, a hot sunny day or a late, over indulgent night.  Thankfully, Shula Starkey realised this and over four years she and  Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, a Naturopathic doctor and leading expert in preventative health and nutrition, developed the ARK Age Aware Skincare range.

Shula and the Age Maintain range

Shula and the Age Maintain range

ARK Age Aware Skincare has a revolutionary approach, offering a range of products (cleanser, exfoliator, masque and moisturiser) specific to each age group, adding in a range of serums for specific skincare issues within those groups.  If we look again at our 20 something with fine lines and tightness she would be using the Age Prepare range with either the Hydrating or Antioxidant serum.  Our 60 something on the other hand would be using the Age Repair range with either the Antioxidant or Phytohormone serum.  As you can see, the products for the same condition are very different due to the difference in age.  I don’t know about you but this makes perfect sense to me, as it ensures that the individual needs of everyone’s skin are catered for.

As you know, for me, what goes into a skincare product,and therefore what goes into my body, is of paramount importance.  I am pleased to report that there is nothing to be afraid of lurking in these ranges.  ARK are a natural skincare brand, and their products contain no parabens, SLES, lanolin, formaldehyde, mineral oil, artificial colours or fragrances.

Sadly I can’t tell you that this new approach will turn back the years, but I can tell you that the ethos and quality of the products is such they can keep you looking your very best.  Sometimes a glowing and radiant complexion really can lend a youthfulness to our appearance and, I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that!

Until last year ARK Age Aware Skincare was only available in their ARK London Spas, but I am delighted that it has now been made available to therapists nationwide and will be coming to Swallowfield very soon!  For a limited period I will be giving you the chance to try out this luxurious range with a very special offer.  From the 1st May all luxury facials will be just £20.  Booking information can by found here.  The products will also be available to order with 10% of the purchase price being donated to one of my good causes.

I hope that, like me, you find the concept of age appropriate skincare refreshingly different and I look forward to introducing you to the range very soon.  In the meantime, why not have a read of some of product reviews which you can find herehere and here.

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A How-to Guide to Forming New Habits

How many times have you made a new years resolution only to find that some months, weeks or even days later your resolution has fallen by the wayside?  For most people it’s every year!  If you’re anything like me you are then left feeling deflated rather than newly enthused with a sense of achievement.   If this is sounding familiar to you I am pleased to say that there is a blueprint for successful resolutions, and it’s all about forming new habits.

Photo Credit: Staurt Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: Staurt Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The problem with forming new habits, as with resolutions, is that we often fall into the trap of making it too complicated, too difficult, too ambitious.  To be successful it is essential to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Learn the rules of successful habit forming and you will have a tool to make life changing goals a reality.

  •  Habit forming rule 1.  Make it so easy that you simply cannot fail.  So easy that not doing it would seem ridiculous.  If you want to start exercising  begin with a plank, or 1-2 minutes of squats every day.  If you want to to eat more healthily start with one extra vegetable a day.  If you want to start drinking more, drink one extra glass of water a day.  Whatever it is, do it for four weeks and the habit will be formed.  From here, or sooner if you want to, you can gradually start increasing the activity until you reach your target.
  • Habit forming rule 2.  Don’t let negative thoughts sabotage your efforts.  We all have them, the little voice in your head telling you that the exercise is too hard, and you should watch some tv instead, that you deserve a cake for a treat after all the healthy eating you’ve been doing, that you really need a coffee instead of a water.  Because these voices are our own they always know exactly what to say, and when to say it to be at their most tempting, but they musn’t be allowed to interfere.  They don’t control us, we control them, so just acknowledge the thought and let it go while you continue on your way to forming your new habit.
  • Habit forming rule 3.  Savour the fruits of your labour.  If you don’t find pleasure in your new habit it won’t last.  Whatever it is pay attention and enjoy the tastes, feelings, sensations that come with your new habit.  This is often over looked as we are so busy ploughing on through our day our new habits can become another ‘job’ on the to-do list.  But remember that they are the route to your goal that you have decided will improve your life.  Take time to enjoy the ride.
  • Habit forming rule 4.  Be prepared to stumble, but don’t fall.  This is the one that troubles me, I’ll be doing a great job and then disaster strikes and my new habit falls by the wayside.  Sounds familiar?  Then make yourself accountable. Tell all your friends about your new daily habit, post it on Facebook, and devise a forfeit for any days that you miss.  Then, as soon as you can, get back on track.  Missing one day is disappointing, missing two days becomes a problem, but miss three days and all your work on forming your new habit is undone, so do your very best to stay on course.  Don’t forget though, that even if you miss three or more days, you can still start over.

Now all that remains is to find something to practice these new habit forming rules on.  Make it something super, super easy, and apply all four of the above rules every day, for two weeks initially.  By then you will be well on your way to not only cementing your new habit, but also getting to grips with the techniques involved in how to form new habits,  an invaluable skill throughout your lifetime.

If you are struggling for inspiration why not try Jenny Burrell’s ‘Just Change One Thing Challenge’?  This week she is suggesting we all try ‘Conscious Consumption‘ which involves choosing at least one meal a day to sit at a table, with no distractions (including tv/radio/phones/laptops), and savour what you are eating.  Consider how you feel about your food whilst you are eating and how you feel after your meal.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  How do you fair with forming new habits and resolutions? Could this work for you?  If you decide to try it out let me know what you’ve decided to tackle and how you get on.  I’m thinking about taking a couple of my child free hours every day and having a social media embargo to increase my productivity.  This post is the fruit of today’s effort!

I will post again on future challenges Jenny sets, but in the meantime if you want to take any of this further check out Leo Babauta’s ‘Zen Habits Sea Change Program‘.  Leo is a life changing writer who’s work was the source for both this post and the ‘conscious consumption’ post linked above.

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Healthy Nails In A Never Ending Winter

Yesterday one of my regular manicure clients texted me to postpone her appointment, “..Nails have broken – must be cold weather…” For those with natural nails, breaks can be a real problem in cold weather but this doesn’t need to be the case.

To demonstrate I have taken this photo of my own nails this morning. They are un-manicured and in their completely natural state so please forgive the imperfections, but hopefully you can see that they are thriving.


Maintaining strong healthy nails is all about moisturising, in all it’s forms, all of which can be done at home. Here are my top tips:-

  • Fluids. Drink lots. This doesn’t have to be water, but keep caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol to a minimum.
  • Omega oils. You need a good supply, so either eat at least 3 portions of oily fish every week (mackerel and sardines are a fantastic and thrifty option) or if you’re not confident that you can do this, supplement. This is what I do and I use this. If you decide to go the supplement route be sure to avoid cod liver oils, choosing oils pressed from the flesh of oily fish instead.
  • Hand washing. This, of course, includes washing up, bathing, and showering too; any time your nails are in contact with any form of soap and water. Try to avoid any soaps/shower gels that contain SLS or SLES as these are the very harshest of detergents and strip the natural oils from your hands and nails. For washing up we all know the importance of wearing gloves but I must confess that I fail miserably here, relying instead on the relative mildness of an environmentally friendly brand of washing up liquid!
  • Hand cream. It’s important to consider what you’re using and how often. First, be sure to read the ingredients label and avoid any products containing pertrochemical/mineral oils. These simply sit on the skin/nails and cannot penetrate to add moisture. Instead look for natural oils and butters. I use this one many times a day; when I get up in the morning, after putting my hands in water, after being outside in the elements and certainly last thing at night. Don’t forget to massage in around the cuticles and nails.

The importance of a good diet, and achieving optimum nutrition underlies the health of every cell in our bodies so it’s role shouldn’t be underestimated for healthy nails too.

So how have your nails faired through this unending winter? Do you have your own methods of keeping them long and lovely?

I hope you can see that it is possible to protect your nails from the elements by paying attention to fluids and oils, both inside and out, and without resorting to expensive manicures to maintain them. Of course, if you want a little extra pampering I’d be very happy to help!

Sadly, I’m off to cut mine now in preparation for my next Aromatherapy Massage client…

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The Panacea Wellness Service

I am very excited to be launching my new Wellness Service today.

When I came up with the idea it really was a eureka moment. It’s what I’ve been wanting to do for so long I’m delighted to finally have a vehicle to assist more people to feel better. As it’s not a ‘hands on treatment’ appointments don’t need to be face to face, opening up a world of Skype/Facetime consultations so it can be accessible to all.  Perfect!

Photo credit Adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo credit Adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is it and how can it help?

Well, if you are feeling the strain of modern living, are tired all the time or just feel ‘under the weather’ but can’t put your finger on why, then this is for you. Or you may have something specific you would like help with. This could be having difficulty sleeping, trying to conceive/give your baby the best start throughout your pregnancy, wanting to lose weight, feeling down, skin problems, feeling stressed, suffering with repeated illnesses or infections or even just wanting to take some steps to be healthier.

Before I began my journey into health and wellbeing I hadn’t realised that there was so much that could be done to improve quality of life in such small and attainable steps. Really, it can be done!

What happens at a Wellness Appointment?

Initially we will simply have a chat. I will ask you what prompted you to make the appointment, about how you are feeling, and ask you about your lifestyle. All you need to do is be honest with yourself; there are no right or wrong answers. I will take the information and work on some solutions for you. I would hope in most cases to be able to give you some ideas or techniques to take away with you so that you can begin feeling better straight away, but there may well be further analysis and recommendations I will make following your appointment. Sometimes these recommendations will include referring you to other healthcare or wellbeing professionals. This could be someone that can help you to be more active, someone that can help you address deep rooted fears or phobias, or even your GP. Of course all recommendations will be tailored to not only addressing your needs, but also to fitting in with your lifestyle and preferences.

Sadly I can’t promise that I can give you a magic pill which will make you feel like a carefree teenager all over again. What I can promise though is that together we can improve your sense of wellness and vitality.

To try and ensure that this is accessible to all, I am keeping the cost of these appointments to a minimum, so please don’t struggle on. There is no maximum age, 80 somethings are very welcome!

  • Initial consultation(1hr) – £10
  • Follow up appointments(30mins) – £5

Contact me now and lets make a start on your better tomorrow:)



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