All’s fair in the search for a cure
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Does it work? Can eleuthero cure common colds and flu?Who are the people who attend health fairs and what do they expect to get out of them, writes SYLVIA THOMPSON
HEALTH FAIRS attract those who are suffering from a particular condition, the worried well and the downright curious. And so it was that almost 1,500 people turned up to the Dalkey Good Health Fair on a January weekend in Dalkey, Co Dublin.
Organiser Aoife Kelly was a little disappointed that numbers were down from a peak of 2,000 visitors in 2008/2009, but was “consoled by the fact that people were genuinely interested and engaged with the exhibitors”. According to Kelly, the focus of the fair – now in its seventh year – is firmly on family health, fitness and general wellbeing.
The free event hosted more than 30 stands, ranging from practitioners of reiki and rolfing (deep tissue manipulation and movement education) to pilates teachers, osteopaths and personal trainers, and a businessman promoting salt therapy spas.
“The idea is to educate people in what’s available. The fair allows people to become informed about various therapies and treatments without having to make a commitment. They can try things out and go away and decide what course of action they want to follow,” says Kelly.
Osteopath Loretta Plowman says there were lots of questions about back and neck pain, digestive problems and period pain.
“I think there are many people who are surviving but not thriving, people who don’t have a spring in their step,” she says.
“It’s really easy to keep going, yet not to feel right. Many people don’t realise that they are exhausted, yet they don’t take time out to rest. The importance of rest is becoming forgotten in our society.”
Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Donn Brennan says he noticed how many people still didn’t know about the Indian system of medicine.
“People are intuitively aware that they can make dramatic changes to their health through diet and exercise and Ayurveda is a system that helps to motivate and empower them to make these changes,” he says.
Barbara Smyth from Sandycove was trying out Qi Energy at the fair. “I look after my health and I’m very interested in alternative therapies. They keep you young and open your mind. The taster therapies are a good idea, but they are short,” she says.
Another visitor was having a free Amatsu treatment, a Japanese form of osteopathy. “I had three falls and I’ve osteoporosis. I had a lot of trauma from childhood and young adulthood which manifested as pain in my body,” she explains.
“Amatsu has helped me release the pain over a period of two years. Now, I’m starting to nourish my own body with good food.”
Amatsu practitioner Trish Cavanagh says people come with digestive problems, low back pain, knee pain, headaches and sinus problems. “Amatsu also helps ease arthritis pain and it’s good for stress,” she says.
Free taster classes in yoga and pilates, talks and demonstrations were held in a separate room at the fair.
Some attracted only a handful of people while others – such as Brennan’s introduction to Ayurvedic medicine and the juicing demonstration by Oliver McCabe from Select Stores, the local health store and cafe – were more popular.
January is the most popular month for detoxing, but McCabe warns that you should make sure you are settled back into your routine before starting any juice detox programme.
“Remember, you’ve got to cut out dairy, wheat, alcohol, cigarettes and refined processed foods. You should try a one- to three-day programme first with juices and porridge for breakfast, soups and juices for lunch and maybe a vegetable stew and brown rice for dinner,” he suggests.
He offered samples and recipes for juices for fighting the flu, cleansing the liver, as well as simple, healthy and tasty ones.