Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Stress relief: is there a 'quick fix'?

Sometimes this may be
your best option...
(in moderation, of course.)
I suffer with stress at the moment – everyone does sometimes.  I also suffer with Depression, and I’ve had my fair share of heart-breaks, loneliness and anxiety.

Recently, I heard somebody recommending ‘Rescue Remedies’ as a cure for stress.  Later that same week, I saw a stand in Boots pharmacy, stocking different varieties of the product.  Both of these events made me angry.

A few years ago, a friend of mine took part in the 10:23 campaign.  A prominent employee of Boots had openly admitted there was no evidence that homeopathic treatments were effective and yet, Boots, a trusted pharmacy, continued to sell them.  (If you’re unsure what homeopathy is, the 10:23 page has a good overview.)

The 10:23 campaign aimed to prove the fallacy of homeopathy through organising a mass overdose of homeopathic products.   The event proved the point: my friend took 30 times the recommended dose, and suffered no effects, positive or negative.

‘Rescue Remedies’ are a form of homeopathy known as ‘Bach Flower Remedies’.  If you read the label, it clearly states that the ‘medicine’ is a severe dilution of the ‘active ingredient’.   In reality, all that is left in the bottle is brandy.  (I’ll give them credit there: at least it’s not just water, as in many cases.  And I suppose a stiff-drink can sometimes help stress.)

These products are a placebo.  Nothing more. 

The reason they make me angry is because people believe they work, and so part with their cash for them (and they’re not cheap!), making someone very rich for ... nothing. 

A placebo may work – yes.  The brain is remarkable and the psychological impact of taking something you believe to work cannot be underestimated.  But many of the illnesses – such as Depression, for example – supposedly helped by homeopathy have genuine medical treatments, which are both effective and offer the same ‘placebo’ benefit of a...err...placebo.  And, the more money that is spent on ‘researching’, producing and stocking the placebos, the less there is for developing real treatments.

I wish there was a miracle cure for loneliness, anxiety, stress or the ‘Monday morning blues’ (seriously, it’s on their website!).  But there isn’t. 

There are, however, products that can genuinely assist with well-being – and I’m not just talking about prescription drugs.  For example, did you know black tea, bananas and omega 3 have all been linked with reducing stress?  (One of those three links contains several other stress-relieving foods!)

Please stop wasting your money on products such as Rescue Remedies.  If you’re taking anything branded as an ‘alternative medicine’, at least find out what it is and how it’s made first.

As Tim Minchin says in his song, Storm: ‘Do you know what they call "alternative medicine" that's been proved to work? ...



  1. truth ... i sometimes use 'alternative,' but they are things like you mentiond ... bananas. many foods have "medicinal" qualities in that sense. I have never heard of RR.... guess that's good. :)

  2. Best fix is a lasting, permanent one that is freely available to all, any place, any time on demand without prescription or fee and with no adverse side-effects ;-)


  3. Hi Faith Traveller, thanks for reading and for your comment. I don't share your opinion that faith can overcome all anxiety, stress or depression as it is not my experience. It can also be dangerous if people do not seek professional medical advice for conditions, believing instead they can be cured by other means.

    And, within faith communities, such beliefs can also create a feeling that the sufferer is not a good enough believer - they do not have enough faith - or else they'd be healed. This is unhelpful for the sufferer and perpetuates a stigma surrounding mental illness, making it difficult for sufferers to be open about their condition, through fear of being judged as inferior.

    Apologies if this sounds as though I am picking on you, it is just something I feel strongly about. I do appreciate your comments, and realise there are many different philosophies and ideas in the world - diversity is a good thing and I wouldn't want to try and make you conform to my way of thinking! :)