Cannabis-derived oil goes mainstream, but is it all smoke and mirrors?

Cannabis-derived oil goes mainstream, but is it all smoke and mirrors?

Reading Time: 6 minutes


Chances are, CBD oil is already on your radar. There has been a huge buzz about it recently, due to its reported benefits – health journalism has been awash with stories of this potential remedy for a wide range of ailments, including anxiety, insomnia, skin conditions, epilepsy and arthritis. But what is the story behind the hype – and is it all too good to be true?

The first thing to clarify is there is a huge difference between CBD oil and medicinal cannabis. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant – it has attracted interest as it seems to have a wide range of therapeutic properties. One of the other compounds in the cannabis plant, prevalent in the marijuana variety, is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – unlike CBD, THC is psychoactive, and this is what gives users the famous cannabis ‘high’.

CBD oil is now in mainstream use – Holland & Barratt were the first UK high street retailer to stock it, with sales doubling in 12 months, and the health company Naturopathica has recently launched the first CBD lozenges. There are also increasing numbers of UK cafés serving up coffee and snacks containing CBD, to help customers combat anxiety and stress!

A recently retired colleague of ours, a lady in her mid- seventies who is caring for her husband who is suffering from dementia, has noticed a marked difference in his anxiety levels since she has been including CBD oil in his diet.

Cannabis is still illegal for recreational use in the UK, but the medical use of cannabis was legalised in November 2018. However, this is only when prescribed by a registered specialist doctor, and notably the current guidelines do not recommend the use of medicinal cannabis oil – which is ironic, given that the UK is home to GW Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s largest producers of medical cannabis, and the company behind the cannabis-derived products Sativex and Epidiolex.

This has frustrated many, including the parents of seven-year-old Alfie Dingley, an epileptic boy from Warwickshire who suffered up to 30 seizures a day due to a rare genetic condition. He hit the headlines in 2017 when it emerged his family had moved to Holland, where medicinal cannabis oil was legal – with treatment, Alfie’s seizures reduced to just one a month! The family returned to the UK and petitioned the government to make it legal in the UK. Since the change to UK law last November, Alfie now has regular prescriptions for his condition, but the family subsequently launched another petition to encourage doctors to “prescribe full extract oil without fear”, as the guidelines mean that few doctors are actually prescribing it.

While most of the compounds in cannabis are ‘controlled substances’ under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD is not. It is currently illegal in the UK to have products with a THC level of over 0.2%, but by using cannabis plants with lower than threshold levels of THC, and high levels of CBD, manufacturers are legally able to sell products – although these are not officially authorised as medicines, so manufacturers cannot make any medical claims on the packaging. Despite this, many people swear by their therapeutic qualities anecdotally.

Any internet search will lead you to an abundance of anecdotal material about CBD. It is widely known to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it keeps your body in a state of equilibrium, making it useful in treating medical conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, muscle and joint pain, insomnia, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. It is easy to take – there are e-liquids for vaping, sprays for under the tongue, CBD capsules and CBD balms to apply to the skin.

Oxford University is carrying out a £10 million research programme into the medical use of marijuana, so hopefully it won’t be long before science and legislation catch up with what the public already seems to know.

Meanwhile the popularity of CBD oil grows daily, and if the coffee and cake at your local café includes this magical ingredient to reduce stress and anxiety, might you be tempted…?

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Reading Time: 6 minutes


If you are looking for a bit of escapism in these turbulent times (didn’t even mention the B word), and if you can get the kids farmed out if you have any, or want to get away with a loved one.  Then you should seriously consider a City Break in the number one destination for adventure and diversity – London.

I am going to give you three options only to get you started, with some linked suggestions – ranging in price so that it does not pull too hard on your purse strings, or could equally cost you an arm and a leg if you go for broke.



I have a rather interesting suggestion for you if you enjoy an artsy boutique hotel with an edgy interior.  40 Winks, which has housed both Hollywood Royalty and the more ‘under the radar’ glamorous guest is run by the charismatic but cosy Interior Designer David Carter who welcomes his guests as if they are family.

40 Winks is situated in the trendy eclectic East End of London but is only three minutes’ walk to the tube and only a 10 minute ride into the City Centre.

Each room is artfully designed and just stepping inside the door take you into another World.  Perfect for the quick getaway.  The prices are incredibly reasonable too, coming in at around £115-150 per night.

A great boarding platform in every way as it will set you up for the great venture into town, where there are a plethora of places popping up to explore and immerse yourself to finally sweep away those Brexit blues.



The Karaoke and Bao Restaurant which is opening in May should be your first port of call.

BAO is the great Taiwanese restaurant that took London by storm with its funky, animated steamed buns that have been plastered all over Instagram. So everyone is talking about the latest opening coming to Borough in May which will join the other outposts including BAO Soho and BAO Fitzrovia, XU Teahouse and Restaurant, as well as the original BAO BAR stand which remains at Netil Market.

Oh, joy of joy it’ll have a karaoke room named BAO KTV?!  This is incredible, as normally with Karaoke and bao never the twain will meet, although you can see why because Karaoke is incredibly popular in Taiwan so it all makes sense.  It opens on May 6th.  I have already made my reservation.




Lyaness has recently been reinvented from Dandelyan which was voted best bar in the World.

The bar rebranded as Sea Containers remains in the Thames-side ground floor position it’s been in for the last few years. But everything inside is different. Named after Chetiyawardana’s 2018 International Women’s Day pop-up that ran at bar Super Lyan, the interior is a gorgeous palate of powder blue, greys and golds channeling a 1920s chic and a 1970s retro. The work of creative director Jacu Strauss, and the team at Lore Studio, who also created Amsterdam’s Super Lyan with Chetiyawardana’s, Jacu.

There is also a sensational view across the Thames.

The cocktails are incredible as you would imagine from this great mixologist and you will relish both the drinks and the ambience in this mini paradise.


If you are a fan of jazz then why don’t you come to the legendary Pheasantry in King’s Road on 9th June to see our very own Dee Anderson perform with her band Topsyike.  They are a funky Jazz fusion band of some notoriety, and will be performing their own compositions as well as some jazz standards such as Don’t Explain by Billie Holiday, Put a Spell on You and Amy Winehouse’s Love is a Losing Game.  You can listen to the music whilst devouring a very tasty Pizza and a glass of wine as this iconic venue has in recent years been taken over by Pizza Express.

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“No Coward Soul Is Mine” – Welsh dancer turns hair loss on its head

“No Coward Soul Is Mine” – Welsh dancer turns hair loss on its head

Reading Time: 7 minutes


Josie Sinnadurai is an extraordinary woman. She has carved out a successful career as a flamenco dancer, touring all over the world and starring in a Hollywood movie (Woody Harrelson’s Lost in London). She has a core of steel and exudes calm determination – on her bedroom door for years she has had the Emily Brontë poem “No Coward Soul is Mine”. But recently her courage and stoicism have been tested to the limit.

In December 2018, just before her 25th birthday, Josie noticed that she was waking up to clumps of hair on her pillow, and that more hair was falling out when she washed or brushed it. She was working in Seville and returned to her home town of Brecon to consult her GP, who told her that it was probably temporary.

However back in Seville, despite using treatments prescribed by a local dermatologist, in the hope that her hair would grow back, the hair loss continued. In her stoic way, Josie remained calm and carried on working – but soon noticed that she was losing her facial and body hair too. She was diagnosed at this point with sudden-onset alopecia universalis, an auto-immune condition resulting in complete loss of all facial, head and body hair.

Not much is known about alopecia, and there is currently no definitive treatment, so sufferers of the condition are faced with the probability of their hair never growing back. Gail Porter, Matt Lucas and Andre Agassi have all famously had to deal with sudden-onset hair loss, and last summer Jada Pinkett Smith also went public with her stress-related alopecia. One can only imagine the stress of hair loss – but to couple that with being in the public eye can only add more pressure to an already sensitive situation.

So hats off to Josie’s reaction! Naturally at first she was in shock. She always had a wonderful head of hair – thick, dark and glossy – and for any woman to lose it all suddenly is a huge thing to process, especially with the speed of the onset, when there is little time to come to terms with it. Emotions of distress, shock and mourning are of course natural. But Josie took control of her situation and put together a strategy to manage what was happening.

“After a couple of days processing the diagnosis, I calmed down and told myself that this wasn’t the worst thing in the world that could happen” she said. “I wasn’t in pain and it wasn’t like losing my hair was going to kill me. At the end of the day, this was only my appearance.”

She decided to document her hair loss, photographing her scalp at each stage. As time went on, she found the inner strength to turn something she couldn’t control on its head – and went far beyond turning lemons into lemonade! She organised a farewell photoshoot of her remaining hair, and then threw a party with friends and family where she shaved her head.
“I even baked a cake. It was my way of saying goodbye to my hair,” Josie said. “The evening was very emotional but also a celebration.”

Next, to boost her confidence and embrace her new look, she had a beautiful henna ‘crown’ tattoo, which looks amazing – feminine and powerful – with something of the Warrior Queen about it! As Josie explained:

“Being proactive about my hair loss gave me the confidence to move forward with my life. Instead of feeling down and sad, I felt excited about the future.”

Josie now wants to spread the word about alopecia universalis, and hopefully to inspire others who are learning to cope with its sudden arrival.

There are of course still challenges – in London Josie fits in with her new look, however in Seville, where she is currently based, some people still stare. But she is fine with that – “I think they’re more embarrassed than I am” – and she has a great friendship group who have supported her throughout. Being a flamenco dancer, Josie currently wears a wig when performing, as the genre traditionally requires the classic Spanish look, which includes thick long hair! But moving forward she is considering dancing without a wig, using this as “an opportunity to question the traditional binary flamenco aesthetic look”, so watch this space! And in her daily life, she is embracing and rocking her new look, with funky headscarves, great make-up and jewellery.

‘Proud’ doesn’t begin to cover what her family and friends feel about how Josie has responded to this traumatic turn of events. She is not only an incredibly talented young woman, but also an inspiring example of how it’s not the hand that life deals you, but the way you play your cards that counts – in Josie’s case, with strength, positivity and panache.

Watch the video of Josie shaving her head.

Josie will be on tour from 12th – 24th April 2019 in London and Wales:


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Reading Time: 6 minutes


Performers are always having the conversation about the fear of first nights, their nerves when singing or dancing for the first time in a show, or the fear of forgetting their lines.  Their hearts pounding, mouths hellishly dry and beads of perspiration breaking out on their forehead.  Then all is all resolved when they walk on stage, the symptoms miraculously disappearing, allowing them to perform perfectly without a glitch.

In the majority of cases performers are at home on stage or in front of a camera, but what happens if the nerves really do take over, and start wreaking havoc in a performer’s life.

Actor Denise Welch recently admitted to an overwhelming bout of anxiety whilst on tour, and explained how she suffered from bouts of depression.  This brave lady has told the world how she has been suffering over the years, and how it creeps up on us without warning and sets out to wreak our lives.

Anxiety does not discriminate and can affect any one of us, and I am sure the majority of you will have suffered from this devastating condition at some time in your life.  Thankfully it is no longer a stigma or considered a weakness to own up to mental health issues, and it is now being encouraged by public figures, actors and even members of our Royal family, to speak out about it, because when we share problems they are far more easily overcome.

I have suffered personally from acute anxiety and it began at school when I was asked to read in assembly when I was 14.  I was incredibly excited as I had begun to be interested in a local amateur dramatic group for under 20s, and this was my opportunity to shine.  To my horror, as I began to read my hands started to shake, my voice began to tremble and I had to walk offstage not finishing the piece of prose I had been asked to perform.  I felt humiliated and desperate, which was not helped by the words of sympathy from my classmates, which only added to my grief.  In those days anxiety and depression were swept under the carpet, and yet I had managed to give a highly visible display of acute anxiety in front of 200 people.  I was devastated.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful teacher called Mrs Frears who taught literature and drama, who supported me throughout and encouraged me to get back on the stage and perform.  I owe so much to her as she not only helped me turn it round, she also was a big part of why I went to performing arts school and worked in theatre and television.

The best advice that was ever given to me when I was tackling the ongoing problem of acute anxiety was from a brilliant psychotherapist who told me to embrace the anxiety, and not try to push it away.  He said that I should give it a name as it was a living entity, and respect it and nurture it – I called it Martha.

I now live with the concept of ‘Martha’ and speak to her as a friend when she turns up unexpectedly.  She can be high maintenance sometimes, in terms of time, but is well worth it as I can then get to grips with my own agenda and learn to live with my own fears and anxieties.  It has certainly worked for me.

I now mentor and train speakers in Presentation and Public Speaking skills and a big part of that is managing anxiety.  Why am I such an expert, is it because I have performed on stage for decades as an actor and singer?  Of course that is a big part of it.  But the most important aspect of my training is my ability to recognise fear of speaking in public because I have suffered badly from anxiety.

The condition is also not just reserved for performers and can infiltrate any area of your life, affecting your social interactions your relationships and even your everyday working life.  It has no boundaries and there is no pattern of how or where it can manifest.

I have a friend who seems to have everything, a wonderful husband, beautiful kids, fabulous country house, great circle of friends, successful career – on the surface everything seems to be perfect, and yet she is the most anxious person I know.

There are so many ways of dealing with fear and anxiety, and these can be personal to you. You can begin by reaching out and knowing that you are not completely alone, which is a brilliant way to start.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


As I give another major shout out for the “Hub at no3” recently opened by the wonderful Lynne Franks in Somerset, I must to introduce you to Saskia Marjoram, another force of nature, who administers Flower Remedies.

Up until then I only knew about Rescue Remedy – that I took in abundance when under stress or in hiding from mankind.

But after a rather apprehensive start, I was persuaded by Lynne to book a session in Flower Remedy Healing and I was soon won over by Saskia’s utter belief in the power of her flower essences and knowledge of how to administer them.

Saskia arrived with all of her essences in a box, a bit like Mary Poppins, and as she brought them out, they seemed to hold a magic of their own, and as she described, their very own personality.

Saskia evokes your own choice of flowers by a method she has developed over years, and told me that whatever my choice, it will be relevant to my lifestyle.

I chose the flowers relating to fun and enjoyment, both of which I had shied away from in recent months for a variety of reasons, so this did not surprise me.  She then made me my very own mixture of the essences I had selected.

It was a joy to be given my very own potion made for me by Saskia in hub@no3 – and I have just finished my first bottle after several weeks.

Did it work, have I had more fun?  I don’t really have to stop and think, as when you participate in magic – amazing things happen – and they are all full of fun fun fun.

I would recommend a visit to “hub at no3” if you have a free weekend or few days, but if not Saskia can do Flower Remedy healing on Skype or Facetime.

Saskia has been working with flowers her entire life. As a professional gardener for more than 30 years, and florist to HRH Prince of Wales, she started making flower essences in 2003 with her friend and business partner Christine Felce.

She goes on to say that she is ‘continually fascinated by how plants and humans interact.  My deep love, friendship and knowledge of the flowers has continued to grow as I discover just how powerfully their energy affects, and interacts, with us.

Flower essences contain the vibrational energy of the plant they came from, this energy is held as a memory in water. Taking this vibration into yourself reminds your own personal energy how to be, helping unlearn held patterns, bringing awareness to problems (and solutions) and rebalancing your whole being.

My essences are made in the same way as the Bach Flower Remedies and are usually taken as drops under the tongue. They do not smell.

Flower essences work deeply bringing positive and effective change to our lives. They act as catalysts, bringing awareness and shifting patterns so that you can take responsibility for your own healing in a safe, natural and simple way.


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Reading Time: 4 minutes


With all of the wonderful alternative and holistic therapies I have tried, Reiki had alluded me until last week when at a Retreat in Somerset  just opened by Lynne Franks, I decided to try it.

I had booked a massage with the lovely Helen, a resident practitioner, who is also an expert in Reiki and a clairvoyant, and as she described the Universal energy of healing called Reiki, felt compelled to book a session.

Helen had already told me that whilst rendering the treatment, she had flashes of insight into the person, in the form of images or names of people or even glimpses of their future.  She asked me if it was something I would be interesting in hearing throughout the session.  I was fascinated, and a little sceptical, even though I firmly believe in holistic healing and even clairvoyance, I had arrived with a severe lower back pain which I was sure would not be shifted in one session.

How wrong could I be?  Helen was obviously an expert in the field of Reiki, and came up with names she could have not possibly known before.

The practise of Reiki in Japanese is translated as ‘miraculous or divine spirit or intention’ and I could not describe it better.  After the session I felt elated if not a little light headed, and Helen told me to drink lots of water, which I did.

The following day my back pain had disappeared.

I couldn’t believe it either – it was miraculous, and Helen had not touched my body at all throughout the Reiki session, just held her hands across the areas she felt needed help, which were the painful areas and my left knee which had also been giving me a bit of discomfort.

Descriptions of Reiki seem to be Universal healing energy administered through healing hands, and even though I had questioned the validity, it had worked.

I have to confess, Helen seemed extremely tuned into me and a great practitioner in the art of healing and Reiki, which was an awesome combination, and so if you can’t get down the The Hub, at least contact an expert in your area and try it.

But for those of you who are believers in Universal energy, it is a good start, and perhaps you can begin by following these simple principles

Just for today do not worry
Just for today do not anger
Honour your parents, teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to every living thing

You can find a Reiki practitioner by logging onto

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