Tag Archives: Mentholatum

Pain relief – and exercising sensibly

You don’t need expensive equipment to get better

Looking round the Gym of a the very VIP hospital where i wa being treated – I did wonder at the lack of expensive equipment.  I had been sent there by my specialist to get help with joint pain, pain in spine,

Personal trainer monitoring a client's movemen...

Personal trainer monitoring movement Wikipedia

etc. after cancer.

The Gym was light, cheerful, and clean – but not many gizmos, except for a treadmill.  So I wondered at the lack of ‘toys for the boys’.

Until I was invited to a talk given by Mentholatum,  the firm that manufactures Deep Freeze and Deep Heat.  And then the words of a speaker started to make sense.  Toby Garbett modestly introducing himself as “I’m a Personal Trainer”, then we Continue reading

What was in the Goody Bag at Cancer Wellbeing Event


Every visitor to the Cancer Wellbeing Event

got a Goody Bag !



Visitors crowding into Kensington Town Hall for the Cancer Wellbeing Day found companies had been incredibly generous with samples.  Ijeoma, Simmone and Paula in the LINk organisers’ office nearly ended up in the street, as their office filled up with the goodies that poured in for the Event.

As a patient, I had been horrified by some of the products I was given to supposedly help my peeling skin, painful eyes, splitting feet etc.  I remember the Pharmacist at the Royal Marsden shaking his head as he handed over yet another ‘approved’ but useless product, saying “I am afraid this won’t do you any good”.  And he was right.

So I was determined that at this event visitors were going to take away with them samples of all the many products that companies make for us, but we are never told about.  Some of them were developed abroad especially for cancer survivors – all of them have been used by me and my friends – and had helped us.

As a cancer survivor, I wanted nurses, doctors, carers etc. to know

  • What WE liked
  • What helped us
  • What products were really helpful, etc.

so I asked those companies that had helped me if they could let us have a few samples.  The response was overwhelming !

So here’s what was in the Goody Bag – and I hope that you find something useful that might help you handle side effects from cancer drugs.

However – please ask your CNS or doctor before you start using anything mentioned here – and then enjoy!

The bags contained a selection of the following, and if anyone wants to try something but it wasn’t in their bag – contact me at at verite@greenbee.net and I will ask the company if they can send samples.   Looking for more information?  Just key in the name into the Search window above the right hand column;  I have written more about these products in various articles when I tried them out.

DEEP FREEZE PATCHES  You can buy these patches at any good chemist, they are made by Mentholatum, and are used by just about ever major football and rugby club to treat their players when they have an injury.  They can work for us when we get pains – but if pain persists then use the Deep Heat sister product.

EQ8 is a refreshing and fruity new energy drink with a virtuous difference – it’s made from natural ingredients and is designed to give a natural energy lift. With just a nip of natural caffeine, EQ8 is the ideal way to revive and re-energise naturally and makes a great alternative to tea and coffee. Plus, EQ8 Cranberry & Apple is filled with anti-oxidants and counts as one of your five-a-day.

www.eq8energy.com  or follow EQ8 at http://www.facebook.com/eq8energy or twitter@eq8energy.


These are my unsung heroes when it comes to products!  This is an Australian company, and many of us know that cancer patients are really well looked after in Oz, particularly when it comes to products that help with drug side effects.  Their Heel Balm saved my feet when they looked like horses’  hooves,  and I even discovered that I can get this on prescription – why doesn’t anyone ever tell us?  They make a range of different skin care products, such as Lip Balm and Dry Skin cream, and other products are also available on on prescription.  Your doctor can look this up in the BNF book on their desk.



Keep a supply in your freezer for those days when drugs act up and you feel nauseous. Developed for pregnant women, someone had the bright idea that they might help cancer patients too – and now some hospitals are trialling them in their chemo wards.




Living Nature is endorsed by Breast Cancer Network New Zealand as ‘above reproach’ for products, practices and committment to helping women’.

The company’s Philosophy is that they believe that when it comes to beauty solutions, nature has the best answers.  When developing their skin care and cosmetic products, they look at how nature does it and are inspired by the remarkable healing properties of New Zealand’s native plants. 85% of New Zealand’s native plants are not found anywhere else in the world and the bio-activity of some of these ancient species is amazing. Active Manuka Honey is nature’s miracle skin healer, Manuka Oil is a powerful skin protector – just a few of their unique New Zealand ‘Hero ingredients’.







Started just ten years ago, the Organic Pharmacy has spread across London, and now has an outlet in Los Angeles.   One reason why the company is growing so rapidly is because they aim to give you as much information as possible. Whether you suffer from breast cancer, skin allergies and sensitivities or you want to optimise your skin and health, they say “an informed, honest choice is your right, we encourage all our customers to ask as many questions as they need to and we are there to support you every step of the way”.  Their website has a list of carcinogens and toxins to watch out for.  And as they say, “We hope that we have shown the world it is possible to choose an organic product that is beautiful to look at, luxurious to use and more effective than its synthetic counterparts without compromising your health or beauty.   Not only did this company supply us with lots of blister packs of their soothing day creams, but they also gave a fascinating talk about products that could help us.  www.theorganicpharmacy.com


Peachykeen Organics gave us Vouchers for 25% off any products you order online.

Their range is organic, and if  you have ‘Brillo Pad’ skin I find their Body Butter is brilliant;  although it is very oily, it sinks into your skin fast, leaving you with smooth skin.  www.peachykeenorganics.co.uk


Another Mentholatum product, which is incredibly soothing for when we get those nasty red eyes as side effects from some drugs.  Ask advice of your medical team before you start using this – or better still, your pharmacist – as they know all about this product.


Carers looking after bed-bound people found either a Synergy  If Bed Bath pack or a Dry Shampoo pack in their bag.  There has been a lot of comment recently in the press that elderly patients are no longer given bed baths whilst in hospital (Ugggh!), but now there is no excuse – these packs don’t need bowls of water – but are used straight from the packet.  I have used the Dry Shampoo when in a hurry and my hair is really in need of TLC!  If visiting an elderly person in hospital and you suspect they aren’t being looked after – take some packs in with you!


So often anyone who has coloured their hair finds that they can’t get help when undergoing  treatment.  But Tints of Nature Shampoo and Conditioner has studied what we need, and formulated products with natural and certified organic extracts for gentle but effective cleansing. Natural proteins and conditioners care for the hair, leaving it healthy and manageable. The range is free from Sodium Chloride (salt) and harsh sulphates, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  Sample packs of  Tints of Nature Shampoo and Conditioner were included in the bags, and they have lots of fashionable  colours which can be mixed with a natural colour to cover grey hair.  www.herbuk.com






Some lucky bags contained Wahanda spa gift vouchers.  Even if your bag didn’t have one, this is an incredible service that is very cancer survivor friendly.  We should all have a monthly massage during the years when we are on hormone therapy, and every week Wahanda comes up with incredible ‘money off’ offers where a full 12 hour massage can be around £20.  They also offer reflexcology, facials and other beauty treatments – and even Pilates.  http://www.wahanda.com/the-wahanda-gift-voucher/

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Caring for elderly patients – hints, tips and stairlift

How to help when they think you are

still a ‘child’


queen 02

Did Princess Anne start her Royal Trust for Carers out of frustration? !!   Imagine trying to make this pair of pensioners listen to you.

Most Carers, looking after someone older than them, will find they have difficulty in getting them to follow their requests.  And however much you know, they won’t take advice from a ‘child’ (however old you might be).

When my brother was 35 ,  he and father started an argument over dinner.  Daddy eventually became furious as my brother was winning, so thumped the table and shouted “GO UPSTAIRS TO BED”.  And couldn’t see why we all burst out laughing.

So you have my sympathy – and a few tips gleaned from other Carers, and learnt whilst looking after two parents with cancer, who wouldn’t have dreamt of listening to me!


Our parents’ generation are often horrified at us spending so much on our faces.  Mother’s friends bought their skincare at Woolworths, until it closed down.  So they see no need to spend more than a fiver on a jar of face-cream.

When it became obvious that mother needed better skincare, otherwise her face would have become deeeply lined and painful, I took to sneaking Clinique and Elemis into her shopping basket when I had to go to Boots or John Lewis.  Provided I ditched the packaging going home, I could say that ‘”this was on special offer”.  And her face lost its dry, parched skin.


As we get older, our body skin gets parched.  Add cancer drug side effects to the equation, and you have a recipe for itchy skin.   Mother did complain about this, and it must have been painful as she actually asked advice.  As is usual, she had been prescribed E45;  her skin must have become tolerant, so I got her to change to Cetraben (on prescription) and her itching disappeared.  Again, most of her generation wouldn’t dream of using a body cream, but if you explain the problem to the Doctor they will prescribe Cetraben or something similar, then all you have to do is suggest that as the doctor has prescribed this expensive product, why not use it as it would be a shame to waste it.


Again, our ‘fads’ with eating fruit and veg – especially if we insist on Organic – are alien to many older people.  And all the newspaper comment about hospital food has made me question what’s in the ready-meals we buy for the elderly, out of supermarket freezer cabinets.  Yes, they are convenient. Yes, they can be popped into the microwave.  But – what do they contain?

OAPs are usually very patriotic, and can see the sense in supporting British Farmers.  Our local Farmer’s Market has stalls selling ready-prepared meals;  all dishes that the older generation love, such as Cottage Pie, Steak and Kidney, etc.  So I have done a deal with one of the stalls;  I order about three or four of their ready-prepared meals (each meal makes up two portions for an elderly appetite).  I provided the right-sized small containers (which they said they would provide next time), and each week I know the old people will get nutritious meals.

Jane, the farmer’s wife who makes the meals, says she is thinking up new dishes – so there will be plenty of variety.  And I am happy because we have talked over what goes into the pies, and Jane says she wouldn’t know an E-number if it came up and hit her.  She has a regular customer, and I know that every day a nutritious meal will be served by an overworked carer who doesn’t have time to make up a meal from scratch.  Jane has now started to provide ‘comfort puddings’, such as jam roly poly and ginger pudding – and these have been greeted with cries of delight.

P.S.  Sally has just phoned up to ask at which supermarket I bought ‘that lovely pie?  She doesn’t believe in  small shops – but always insists that I buy all her food at the supermarket “because they don’t make a profit out of customers”.  Bless!  Had to do some quick thinking to gloss over the fact the pie had come from the Farmer’s Market.


Mentholatum is a well-known name to most chemists, as they make all kinds of useful over-the-counter remedies, such as Deep Heat, Deep Freeze, Regenovate, etc.  If someone complains of painful joints, and the doctors don’t seem able to help, have a talk with your pharmacist, and more than likely they will suggest one of the remedies made by this company.

They are serious about research, and if you look carefully next time one of those precious mega-millionaire footballers pretends to fall on the pitch in agony, more than likely the coach/physio will come dashing onto the pitch and fish out a canister of Deep Freeze to spray on ‘where it’s hurting’.  So if it works for footballers, Grandad is bound to believe it will work for him.

And I use it myself on my drug-side effect joint pain – and it works for me.  And I am no over-paid footballer (more’s the pity).

Warning:  do discuss whatever medicines Grandad or Grandmother are taking, as there are a few conditions where these type of remedies might react.


If you are worried that a workman might be impersonating an employee of one of the utility companies, my invaluable gas engineer, Colin Blaize, says

1.  Get the workmen to phone before they arrive (they all have mobiles)

2.   Either go on the company’s website to see if they have their employee listed, and their photo posted.  For British Gas look under ‘operatives’ or similar headings for other companies (personnel, our staff, etc).  There should be a photo of the person who is visiting.

3.  Or phone the company to confirm that the person arriving is the right one.

4.  If police come to the door at night, get them to post their warrant card through the door – dial 999 and ask them to verify that the card hasn’t been stolen and it is right police officer.  And don’t forget to hand back the card!


Mother became very unsteady on her feet, and eventually we were horrified to find a new doctor had prescribed some very strong sleeping pills.  We tried to wean her off them – inducing tantrums.  So I took a sample pill down to the herbal remedy shop, and asked the manageress if she could provide something totally similar, but that wouldn’t harm an old lady.   Up she came with an idential object – which she said was a Vitamin supplement and wouldn’t cause any harm.

These were popped into the dosset box, and the sleeping pills fished out.  Next day, after the first night on the vitamin pills,  I innocently enquired “did you sleep well?” and was told “the best night ever”.




And, if you are at your wit’s end, and badly need advice and/or a helping hand, Princess Anne set up her Carer’s Trust to offer help.

To the public, she seems a very contained, self-sufficient and efficient figure.  But, when  The Queen found an intruder in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace, it was  the Princess who realised, under her mother’s dignified exterior, she was very upset and worried.  So she wouldn’t allow her mother to sleep without another member of the family in whichever residence she was staying, and often would fly to be with her for a night, when Prince Philip was away on official  visits.

Their website has a section about useful information for those Carers looking after someone with cancer, to a discussion on where to find lists of reliable tradesmen and workmen.  www.carers.org


Washing an elderly person’s hair is often fraught with problems, but a company called Oasis has come up with a clever idea:  a Shampoo Cap.

Everything needed is contained in one hygienic pack.  Instructions are written on the outside, but basically you can put the pack inside the microwave to warm it up first, then place the cap over the hair, so it covers all of it.

Massage gently, making sure all the contents are spread through the hair, then take this off and discard.  And your patient has clean, hygienic hair.

Made by Synergyhealth who make simple kitsyns for giving patients ‘waterless’ bed baths, and other clever ideas.  01772-2999000  www.synergyhealthcareplc.com Enhanced by Zemanta


This is one of main aids that you have to fight to have installed – then once in, the elderly love using it to zip up and down.

Hertfordshire based company EMS Stairlifts has set up STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE. Conceived by directors Jonathan Muir, Mick Armstrong and Thomas Sergeant, this philanthropically motivated initiative has been designed to give back something meaningful to the communities they have served for around the last twenty five years.

EMS Stairlifts is one the UK’s oldest stairlift specialists and has a wealth of experience in the sale, installation, service, maintenance of hoists, stair, floor, step and bath lifts. Based in Baldock Hertfordshire EMS Stairlifts serves the Home Counties region and owns Europe’s largest showroom of full size and fully operative stairlifts.

As Mick Armstrong says,  “While local authorities, housing associations and charities fund the cost of stairlifts for hundreds of people, unfortunately there are many others who, for a whole variety of reasons, are refused such financial assistance and it is precisely for this reason we have set up this scheme.We plan to donate one stairlift, inclusive of all fitting, service cover and warranties, worth thousands of pounds, completely free of charge every month to those applicants we consider most deserving.”

Head of sales Thomas Sergeant made it clear that the STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE is not a publicity seeking stunt and said: “EMS is a very successful company that has grown substantially every year and this initiative has been embraced by all the staff, everyone is involved. We intend to honour this sizeable commitment for the foreseeable future, supplying free stairlifts around the region we operate in for many years to come.”

When asked about selection criteria and how the lucky recipients will be chosen, Jonathan Muir replied: “We hope to hear about people who have given much to their communities throughout their lives, perhaps having been involved with charitable endeavours or served their country and who now find themselves needing help but unable to afford a stairlift or obtain a funding grant. It is those people we feel are deserving of our help now.”

Visiting EMS Stairlifts for the first time, Oliver Heald, MP, remarked, “I was impressed that Baldock has the country’s major showroom for fully operational stairlifts. This is a huge advantage for customers and I spoke to one of my constituents who was very pleased to see and try the stairlifts in action.”

This constituent was Veronica Lee from Hertford, who, along with her son Chris, certainly got more than they bargained for during their visit to the showroom last week.

After visiting the EMS Stairlifts website Chris had brought his mother over to the Baldock showroom and was delighted to discover it was the best, if not the only, place to try a large number of fully working stairlifts.

However, neither of them was expecting a personal welcome from their local MP and an opportunity to discuss one or two constituency matters in addition to choosing a stairlift.

Picture shows Mick Armstrong, Thomas Sergeant and Jonathan Muir of EMS Stairlifts.                                                                Front: Veronica Lee and Oliver Heald MP


Light therapy is forging ahead


Image via Wikipedia

Researchers experiment

with light therapy


Hospitals in Europe are offering a ‘new’ treatment – light therapy.

I say ‘new’ – because the Greeks were using light and sun to aid healing over two thousand years ago;  they knew the benefits of light therapy when you were sick.

Now, as well as hospitals, some  over-the-counter-remedies also make use of light.  It’s all happening!

The first time I saw light being used as therapy was at La Roche Posay.  I had gone there to get help with skin problems caused by cancer drugs.  Showing me around, Dr. Lemoine said “we are researching light therapy to treat scars from burns”, and ushered  me into a room with a soft coach, and batteries of different coloured lights shining down from the ceiling.

He explained that this wasn’t designed for my conditions, but as I was a journalist would I like to experience the different lights that their other patients would receive?  So they left me there for half an hour, whilst different lights played across the ceiling.  I felt relaxed and happy as I came out – and promptly forgot all about it.

But I did notice as I travelled around Europe for the best treatment to help me with side effects, that many of the state-of-the-art clinics I visited seemed to be expermenting with light.  For instance, in Germany  Klinic Bad Sulza had banks of special lights to treat patients with Psoriasis.

Now, Mentholatum, the pharmaceutical company with lots of innovative ideas, has produced two small, hand-held torch-like devices, which might help with the problem of spots and acne, particularly if these are a problem due to cancer treatment.

Intrigued?  Will light therapy work for you?

Possibly.  Especially if you suffer from Acne or Cold Sores.

The Mentholatum range has two little gadgets using special lights, which are targeted on those who suffer from either of these distressing conditions.  As they say, “light has the potential to induce effects that are either desirable (diagnostic, therapeutic) or undersirable (toxic).  It is the selection of light of a specific wavelength, intensity and dose which results in the controlled therapeutic and beneficial use of light therapy”.

For Acne, there is a portable light system, Clearlight.  The size of a torch,                                                                                             it provides targeted treatment for spots and acne

This emits what is called ‘blue light therapy’, which has been used extensively for years by dermatologists for the successful treatment of spots, acne and blemishes. It has been scientifically proven that blue light at the specific wavelength of 415nm kills spot causing bacteria.

Part of the OXY range, Clearlight harnesses the healing power of blue-light technology in a safe and convenient hand-held device for home use. The Clearlight penetrates to the root of P. acnes, killing spot-causing bacteria and helping prevent spots from erupting.

It’s kind to skin, as the light emits NO heat, and NO harmful UV rays. It does NOT cause drying, peeling or discomfort, either.

You use Clearlight to treat active breakouts, or whenever you feel a spot erupting, to visibly reduce the appearance of spots and acne.  It can be used with your daily spot treatment, and whenever you experience a spot outbreak.

To use, all you do is press the power button and place the Clearlight device over the spot. Listen for the beep indicating that the therapeutic light is at work. The device will automatically switch itself off at the end of the 3-minute treatment cycle. Use twice daily, morning and evening, for 3 minutes until your spot has cleared.  It costs £24.99.

But, do not use Oxy Clearlight if you suffer from a photosensitive disorder (sensitivity to sunlight) or are taking any medication that prevents you from being exposed to sunlight.

For Cold Sores they have a device called LipZor to help heal cold sores.

LipZor is a patented, portable electronic device using light therapy to treat these nasty erruptions.  The device uses ‘light’ of a specific wavelength: 1072 nanomtres – to target tissues around the cold sore and improve immunological function, helping boost and speed up the light healing process.

The makers also claim that if you use the device as soon as you feel that ominous tingle, LipZor might help prevent an outbreak.   Zapping the outbreak area with this portable device you stimulate the body’s immunological function and help speed up the healing process.

In clinical trials healing time was reduced by up to three days, and can be used during the tingling phase, or later on, when that horrid blister breaks out.

Unfortunately, just shining an electric torch on a cold sore isn’t going to do much good.  The science behind this gadget says that the wavelength it delivers is critical, as the light needs to hit the tissue in and around the cold sore, to be absorbed by the photoreceptors within the tissue cells.  But using the right wavelengths helps Nature promote the body’s own healing response.

LipZor costs £39, and is obtainable in good chemists, whose advice you should follow when first using the device.

Fast forward a few years

Currently Scientists are expermenting on using light to target and destroy cancer cells in mice.

Researchers have designed a light-based therapy that allows the selective destruction of tumour cells in mice without harming surrounding normal tissue. This method of cancer therapy could theoretically work against tumours in humans, such as those of the breast, lung, prostate, as well as cancer cells in the blood such as leukemias, say scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of NIH.

Current photodynamic therapy is not specific for cancer cells, resulting in damage to surrounding normal tissue. Therefore, the researchers in this study set out to develop a light therapy that could more accurately target cancer cells while sparing a greater number of normal cells, using photoimmunotherapy, or PIT.  This uses light to rapidly and selectively kill cancer cells.






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Pain as side effect of drugs is badly handled

Why are medics

so bad at treating Pain?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Andy Roddick of US...

Roddick stumbles with pain daylife


It happens to Tennis Players such as Andy Roddick, footballers – and other sportsmen.  But they have highly-paid doctors in their team, ready to help at the first twinge.

In Britain, we find it difficult to get effective help;  at a recent Parliamentary meeting, Ash Soni, member of the Government’s prestigious Future Forum,  condemned the way cancer patients suffered from side effects from drugs.  Instead, doctors dish out painkillers as an easy way to handle pain.

Unless you are treated privately.  Or happen to live in an area where the post-code lottery is banned.

When my invaluable private neurology specialist sent me off to see his tame Physio, she gave me very specific targeted exercises to help relieve cancer-drug related pain.  Provided I keep up with a half-hour session each week doing these exercise, this pain has disappeared.

Contrast that with Cindy’s treatment.  We were chatting in the waiting room – as you do – when she said through gritted teeth, “the next nurse who approaches me with a clipboard and a perky smile, to ask “on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?” is going to get bopped on the head with that clipboard”.

And as evilly-grinning perky nurse approached, Cindy warned her :  “I DON’T know how had MY pain is.  I only know it is BAD ENOUGH that it is making me miserable.  Do you want ME to start screaming?  Or what will get into your thick head that I need help?   Give me that clipboard – I will ram it over your head and you can tell me how the pain scale registers for you.

The startled nurse shot back into her cubby hole;  when Cindy was called through by another nurse, the door shut firmly, and we never heard the end.


This is magazine for professional nurses;  recently they printed an excellent article on Pain, saying “It is one of the most challenging aspects of achieving quality palliative care for the patient coping with cancer.

  • “A patient may experience psychic pain caused by having cancer and physical pain caused by the disease process.
  • A patient may have residual pain from a preexisting condition, or the ongoing pain of a concomitant disease or infection.
  • Or, the patient’s pain can be caused by cancer treatments.

Neuropathic pain is one of the worst types of pain for the patient to experience and the oncology clinician to treat. Radiation therapy, infections such as herpes zoster in immunocompromised patients, or nerve impingement from a tumor can all cause neuropathic pain, as can chemotherapy.

The latter affects sensory, motor, and autonomic pathways and is usually referred to as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN is a debilitating condition affecting patients with cancer or who are recovering from cancer. No medication specifically targets this type of unremitting pain.


A number of chemotherapy agents are culprits of peripheral neuropathy in patients with cancer.

Neuropathic pain often worsens over time; the longer the patient is exposed to chemotherapeutic treatments the worse the pain gets—even as the medications effectively treat the cancer. Amy P. Abernethy, MD, director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, explained it this way :

“Several things happen in the treatment of cancer related neuropathic pain. The medicines we have don’t work well, so we end up using accumulating medications with accumulating side effects.

“It takes a long time to get there. So for people who have a limited life expectancy, we don’t have medicines that work overnight. We’re sequentially adding things, different medications. Figuring out what’s going to work on someone’s pain takes a while.

Also, with lack of NHS resources, the PBP (poor bxxxxy patient) finds doctors don’t have time to help, so yet again they are prescribed the next pain-killer drug on the list, and left to ‘see if this works’.

Furthermore, the neuropathy of cancer is a persistent problem. One study found that cancer survivors can experience pain for more than a decade after completing treatment.


Some patients find relief with meditation.

Some improve with applications of moist heat, such as Deep Heat

Others prefer ice treatment such as Deep Freeze

(depending on which drug contributed to the pain).

These two products have helped me with different types of pain, and can be obtained in all good chemists – so worth a try (and you see these in most doctor’s bags treating top sportsmen).


Physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture may also be effective for certain patients.

  I also get relief by using Regenovex patches if I get a particularly bad   ‘attack’ and can’t work out what causes the pain.

These are made by Mentholatum, whose products you often see carried by sports coaches to relieve pain in highly-paid footballers and athletes bodies.




In the States most palliative care specialists conclude that symptomatic treatment is the best approach for CIPN at this time.

They suggest starting with a broad-spectrum analgesic, such as

  • an NSAID.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip)
  • and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor, generics), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor, generics)
  • Gaba-pentin (Gabarone, Neurontin, generics) or pregabalin (Lyrica) are often ineffective for patients with CIPN.
  • Anticonvulsants do not seem to relieve neuropathy related to chemotherapy, although they are often effective for other types of neuropathic pain.

If the pain is unresponsive to any of these treatments, many patients will find relief with an opioid.

But should we copy this in Britain?  In my case, my neuro-surgeon kept a very close eye on me;  after prescribing Gabapentin, he called me back into his office a month later, to say he had been reviewing my case, and didn’t think this was right for me – giving me a reasoned explanation which made a lot of sense.  But how many NHS doctors would have the time to do this?


Judith Paice, PhD, RN, director of the Cancer Pain Program in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, recommends a multifaceted approach to managing CIPN, including physical activity.

“These patients need to exercise, to keep moving to ensure that they don’t lose muscle strength,” she advises.

However, their symptoms require special safety precautions, because “they can lose proprioception—the spatial orientation of their bodies—so they are at risk for falls and other injuries.

They should make sure their walking surfaces are nonskid, eliminate throw rugs, and use a night light. If their hands are affected, they should turn down the temperature of their hot water so they don’t burn themselves because, paradoxically, their sensation of what is normal is reduced. They need frequent assessments of their feet and good foot care.

A terrible irony is that someone can survive the onslaught of cancer, only to spend the next decade or more coping with neuropathic pain caused by the very treatment that ensures the person’s survival. As more patients with cancer are survivors, more of them suffer with CIPN.


Given the scope of the problem, a search for medications that specifically treat this type of pain makes sense. One drug being considered, KRN5500, is derived from the antibiotic spicamycin.7 It was discovered by researchers looking for new treatments for myeloid leukemia. Although the derivative was not effective for myeloid leukemia, it did prove surprisingly successful at relieving neuropathic pain, and joint trials with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are underway. This may be the very welcome beginning of a new armamentarium for CIPN. ONA


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Carol Smillie and using seaweed to zap spots


When spots make your life a misery, simple

seaweed can offer help

Undergoing cancer treatment, some people are incredibly lucky.  The drugs they take dry up their skin from inside – making spots shrivel up and disappear.

For others, the spots go on, and there seem to be a constant supply of new zits and blackheads making life a misery.  For some even unluckier people, they suddenly develop crops of spots, and can’t get rid of them.

There is hope

Scientists have discovered a new use for seaweed, and it is helping clear up skins that suffer from these nasties.

Recently Carol Smillie and her daughter Christie were showing off their skins after using the new seaweed-based Oxy products to help control spot outbreaks.

Oxy Tube with fresh looking packaging

Produced by the Mentholatum company, (makers of Deep Heat and Regenovex), their scientists have been harnessing seaweed off the shores of Brittany, as a basis for the Oxy range.

Now Oxy products are being sold in major chemists – alongside their topical gels  such as Deep Freeze and Regenovex.  These do a good job of helping relieve pain and help mega-precious footballers – and cancer patients with aching joints.  So the ‘stable’ is a good one.

Dealing with Spots

We all think acne is something we get in our teens, and hope to grow out of.  Now, this company own the OXY brand of topical skincare treatments, designed to tackle spots, blackheads and excess oil.

For those of us with cancer – spots can be a horrid reminder of our teens as the spots make their unwelcome appearance again.

Seaweed – is this the new miracle ingredient?

Scientists are now using new methods to combat spots, and and a lot of research has gone into using seaweed to combat these nasties.

As a plant, I have been watching seaweed for some time;  it is probably the latest ‘miracle’ ingredient, judging by the uses companies are finding for those long tendrils.  A friend living in Brighton gathers the squishy brown tendrils when she goes for shore walks, then brings them home to add to her bath.  Soaking in the warm, seaweed infused water certainly gives her a gorgeous skin.

This time it is the Laminar or Laminaire (below) variety of seaweed the scientists are using, and also a type of brown seaweed that is helpful – but to get the benefits you need to do a bit more with it than just soak in the bath.

Those clever people at Mentholatum have been working with this at a works by the seashore in Brittany, France, and have now come up with Oxy skincare products that have proven very successful in trials.

I suppose I am lucky – my skin just dried out from cancer drugs, but sitting next to me at the Oxy product launch was a friend who had had  horrendous spots as a result of cancer drugs, and she was saying what a benefit it had been.

Celebrity Trials

Another one who is keen on this product is Carol Smillie, and her very pretty teenage daughter Christie.

Carol says “the fact that some of its key ingredient properties come from seaweed ……. I much prefer the thought that as a mum, my daughter is using a product which uses ingredients from nature.  My daughter is a normal teenager ….. loves to wear make-up ……  Christie’s been using the new Revitalised Oxy ranged for several months now, and it really has the desired effect”.

Oxy skin preparations contain several active ingredients, including Phycosaccharide – harvested  from brown seaweed along with others from the coast of Brittany.  According to Dr. Carrie Ruxton, this is also a rich source of potassium, sodium, magnesium and iodine – plus also being a good source of anti–inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.  She has been working on a double-blind randomised and placebo-controlled trial at the San Gallicano Institute and Acne Clinic in Rome.

As a result, Oxy has developed a brand new Oxy range, just launched in major chemists.  More info:  www.oxy.co.uk


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Seaweed is becoming a celebrity plant

Seaweed is the latest super plant


Some forms are now used to help those with acne and skin spots from cancer

Another type is used to help cancer drug-dried out skin

This rather slimy weed floating around in seawater has thousands of uses, many of which are still to be discovered.  And it can be free to use, if you live near the sea.

Premila, a friend who lives in Brighton, collects the dark green large leaved seaweed you see above, takes it home and dumps it in the bath, and says she has a lovely relaxing soak.


It all started with Dr. Richard Russell (1687 – 1759) who was an 18th century physician working in Brighton.  He  encouraged his patients to use a form of water therapy that involved submersing his patients in the sea, and then drinking seawater.  This developed into Thalassotherapy, taken up eagerly by the French, and now on offer around their coastline and in the Mediterranean.

But I am glad to say that drinking sea water is no longer encouraged!  Ugh! But now medical spas using thalassotherapy treatment are found all round Europe’s sea coasts.

 Help with Acne and Spots

And come September, Mentholatum has a brand new product launching that is proving incredibly helpful to those suffering from acne and spots induced by cancer treatment.

Watch this space in September.

More Seaweed miracles

I have written about the benefits of using an Icelandic seaweed-based skincare developed by Dr. Jón Bragi Bjarnason,  Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Iceland.

This is for my type of skin – the one that is totally dried out by cancer drugs.  There are two main  products –

Age Management Gel

An Age Management Gel that you wear as a moisturiser.  It comes in a clear dispenser, and you only need one or two small drops.  Spread this over your face, and WAIT 15 minutes before putting anything else on your face.  £120.  But it lasts me 3 – 4 months, and my skin is very thirsty.

There is also a Face and Body Salvation – a clear spray that is particularly good if you are out in the sun, or travelling by air.

Then there is also a Mask – which has all the benefits of the seaweed ingredients to give your face a lift (£10).

And the seaweed content?  As they say, “the diverse marine life of Iceland’s abundant waters inspired Dr Bragi to scientifically explore the effects of a new and undiscovered enzyme. He has since dedicated his life to the understanding and development of marine enzymes, and owns the worldwide patent for these powerful extracts.

His extensive research initially focused on the therapeutic value of the enzymes for arthritis and wound healing. Clinical evidence of their effectiveness was so compelling that it prompted Dr Bragi to explore their cosmetic potential as well.

He decided to develop a unique line of skin care products based on his marine enzyme technology.

Now, after seven years of extensive trials – with incredible results – Dr. Bragi’s skincare formulations are commercially available to the public for the first time.


Important Information

As a non-scientist, my way of testing is to actually try a product on my skin, and any of my friends who have had cancer whom I can persuade!  So when trying out products I surf the web to find good/bad info that might throw more light on how and why a product works.  I came across Marta, on http://www.truthinageing.com, who – like me – tests things on herself.  She had some good things to say about Dr. Bragi, but had tested the Age Management product and was not impressed.  So she posted an article.

The Dr. Bragi team had the courtesy to reply – I thought their comments were intesting:

1. Dr Bragi Technical Team Jul 24th, 2009

Dear Marta,

Thank you for showing an interest in our brand, it’s always good to see that our products have caught people’s attention.

After reading your blog we felt inclined to write back and correct you on a few points you made about our product. Our customers opinions and comments mean a lot to us and we appreciate your honesty however we thought we would explain a few things that perhaps were misunderstood during your research.

Firstly, let us tell you a little more about Penzyme. Indeed, this is a marine enzyme and obtained from through a strict purification process from sustainably fished organic Icelandic cod, however, no animals are killed in the name of our products – the ingredient is obtained a s a by product from cod used to obtain Omega-3 supplements which are consumed in abundance all over the world.

The cod used comes from the North Atlantic, which is extremely pure and contains absolutely no mercury or other heavy metals.

Secondly, you are absolutely right about Penzyme being made by Zymetech and used in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Bragi is Iceland’s most respected biochemist and produces the enzyme at the University of Iceland and sells this through Zymetech which is his research and manufacture company. Dr Bragi dedicated his life to the study of marine enzymes and as you pointed out, it has been sold over the counter for a while for the treatment of various conditions. The efficacy is backed by a plethora of empirical research data which we will happily provide for anyone that may be interested. Moreover, Penzyme holds a global patent for its efficacy. Obtaining a patent is an extremely complicated and extensively vetted procedure; this is why we are so proud to produce a product containing a scientifically backed ingredient. The enzyme used in our skincare line is the same, however, it is formulated in different percentages. It is not mass produced but made in small batches by Jon Bragi himself and we are very careful with our ingredients adapted for use on the face.

The discovery of Penzyme’s efficacy on wrinkles, rosacea, acne and so on was an unexpected discovery during clinical trials on wound healing, this then lead on to more successful research which again, we will happily provide to our customers. Due to the concentration, formulation and sheer net weight, the Age Management Moisturiser is expensive but lasts a very long time and we encourage our customers to use as little as possible. This brings us to another of your points, the ‘thickness, tackiness and stickiness’ of the product. The formulation contains no oil; it is based purely on glycerine and sorbitol which may occasionally feel sticky. The enzyme can only survive in a very strict environment, which means we can only use those two base ingredients however we will soon be adding Hyaluronic Acid, which will not only make the product far less sticky but also even more efficient. Ingredients like urea (obtained from plants) and hydrochloric acid are also needed to balance out the correct pH for the enzyme, these are present in negligible percentages of 0.01%. Sodium hydroxide is used in the process as a buffing agent, only 0.15% is used.

We hope this helps you understand our product more and we are always here to answer any questions, as is Dr Bragi himself. We try to be as transparent and possible and offer all information available in order to help our customers understand the science behind our brand. We are sorry to hear the product did not work for you and we will happily send you a complimentary sample of our award winning Intensive Treatment Mask, perhaps that will change your mind and you will join the many satisfied Dr Bragi customers around the globe.

Sincerely yours,

The Dr Bragi Technical Team
2. Martamarta Jul 24th, 2009

Thank you Dr Bragi tech team for taking the time to write such an informative response. The fact that the enzyme can only live in a very strict environment is fascinating and seems obvious now that you say it. The future addition of hyaluronic acid sounds like a very good idea – I felt that it needed a moisture boost. And I’d love to try the mask!
My best, Marta

P.P.S  Hyaluronic acid is definitely something to watch – Mentholatum use this in some of their products.   I should definiutely have paid more attention to Science lessons at school, instead of learning how to read comics held in my lap.


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Zapping Joint Pain for cancer sufferers

Regenovex helped me walk more easily


Joint pain is one of the most prevalent but dreaded side effects of drugs – and can really drag you down.

As a survivor, you think treatment is over – then you start to feel pain in places you didn’t know existed.

When we fill out those medical questionnaires, apparently ‘Do you suffer from joint pain’ has more ticks than most other categories – so it affects many of us.  Doctors come up with all sorts of solutions;  often it is ‘buy this supplement over the counter’, and you just wonder if you are buying the right thing.

So when Mentholatum, who have produced helpful products for eyes (Rohto),  Mouth Ulcers (Algopain-eze) and Lymphoedemia (Deep Freeze), which I have written about elsewhere, come up with little capsules for joint pain – I gave them a try.

Warning! I am NOT a doctor, only a patient!  So I can’t tell you any medical reason for these capsules to work, but I can say they are helping me enormously.  The latest drug I am on has produced bad joint pain in places I didn’t know I had joints, and I have been hobbling around.Today, I suddenly realised I wasn’t having to favour any joints – they seemed to be working properly.  I tried out a few moves – went further, and have discovered that things are feeling much, much better!

So why the relief?
Probably the best place to get answers is to go on to www.thejointageinginformationservicepanel.com
and see what their panel of specialists has to say:

  • Dr. Jane Griffin, whose patients include many of the UK’s top rugby players, England Women’s Golf Assn. and the British Olympic Association.
  • Dr. Dominic Radford, another sports specialist,
  • Dr. Gill Jenkins who is apractising GP with an interest in rheumatology and bones,
  • and Sally Evans, a top Physio who works with the England Rugby players, as well as being an expert in musculoskeletal profiling.

I was lucky enough to meet up with this panel, whose sensible advice included the need to eat one – two portions of oily fish a week, but no more (problems with contaminants/pollutants).

However, they warn you MUST NOT take Regenovox if you are allergic to seafood.

They pointed out thatRegenovex contained Natural Marine Bionovex Oil, a pure marine oil derived from New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels – we are hearing a lot about benefits from these.

They told a group of us that Regenovex Capsules have been designed to help maintain daily joint health.
Their “unique, technically advanced formulation contains two functional ingredients from natural sources:
Marine Bionovex® oil + Hyaluronic Acid (HA).

  • An advanced formulation designed for joint health
  • Functional ingredients from natural sources
  • Small gelatin free softgel capsules
  • Free from artificial colours, preservatives, yeast, sugar
  • Convenient and easy to swallow

And I can’t promise you will be able to copy the figures below – but you never know!




Mouth Ulcers – new product to zap them

Aphthous ulcer in the back of the mouth
Image via Wikipedia

When you get a painful mouth

There is one good thing about having cancer:  as a medical writer you are never short of a subject on which to tryout  something that might be helpful.

Last month a PR company asked me to lunch (well, someone has to go eat it!).  They were launching two new products that came out of the Mentholatum stable, and as I have written about other products in their ‘stable’ (see


I knew a good lunch wasn’t going to hide a bad product.

So after lunch, the new products went into my bathroom  cupboard, and sure enough it wasn’t long before I was trying out the Algopain-eze RemeSense Dissolvable Mouth Ulcer Patch. A big name for tiny little patches that adhere to the site of the ulcer, and gave me instant relief.

Broken Tooth

One of my drugs was playing up – and it was over Christmas.  a chunk of tooth filling joined the Christmas turkey, and by next morning the crumbling filling was catching inside my mouth, and it was very painful. How on earth drugs can dissolve this strong product I don’t know, but it makes me worry what they are doing to the rest of our insides.

But the moment I struck one of the patches inside the box on top of the ulcer, the relief!

I had to hold the beige side of the patch to the ulcer with my finger for several seconds, and remember not to keep on touching it with my tongue, but apart from that the patch would stay on for two or three hours – sometimes longer – and got me through the time until the dentist was open again and could file off the protruding filling that was making such a mess.

You can buy these in any good chemist, and they cost £9.50 for 7 patches.

The same company also makes Algopain-eze Herpatch, which does the same thing for cold sores.

They cost £4.94 for a box, so might be worthwhile picking up one next time you get your prescriptions – we are right in the middle of the cold sore season.

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