Cooking on prescription

Doctors teaching cooking? Why not. More and more physicians turn to this simple measure to inspire people to get back to their kitchen. This is a place where a treatment for any illness can start, a cure can be found and a sense of community and connection can begin to heal the mind and soul of every person.

Cooking can change lives, can even save lives. This is why in my hospice we have started giving cooking demonstrations for patients and bereaved relatives. And they are such fun, both for staff and for patients and relatives! To paraphrase Andrew Boorde from his 1547 medical book ‘Breviary of Health’: ‘A Good Physician Is Half A Cook’.

As a doctor with specialisation in nutritional medicine I am delighted to be putting on my apron at work and taking part in the new revolution in medicine and healthcare which starts from real food in our kitchens!

PAH Bereaved relatives Nov 2013 copy     Ladies lunch group colour version IMG_3673

Health – the greatest of human blessings

More than 50 people attended my talk last Friday, organised by the Stuart Low Trust.

The audience wanted to know how by their own efforts they could improve their health.

Food, physical activity, singing, music, the arts, lifestyle habits and having a spiritual practice, were some of the Hippocratic practices that I explored as ways to restore ‘balance’ and hence a more healthy condition in the body.


‘A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit in his illnesses’ Hippocrates

The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of 60 books attributed to the great ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, although not all of them are written directly by him.


Hippocrates’ plane tree, under which he taught his pupils

In the Corpus, a number of texts refer to the need for each person to take initiative for their own health. In the book ‘Regimen in Health’ the author says the following: 

‘A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit in his illnesses’

The Hippocratic doctor practised medicine close to the patient, listening carefully to their story and observing in great detail all aspects of signs and symptoms, as they developed over a period of time. Only then did he reach a conclusion as to the best treatment to restore health.

During treatment, the doctor continued to observe the patient and adapted his advice according to changes in the person’s clinical situation and environment.

Each person was given a personalised healthcare plan which involved adapting diet, physical activity and other aspects of daily life such as baths, sleep, natural exercises (singing, meditation) and habits.

In conjunction with this, the physician asked each person to take initiative for their own health. Engaging them in their own care was important for the success of the prescribed treatment, especially since it quite often lasted a long time.

The patient was asked to pay close attention to the reactions in their body.

This personalised approach and patient education and empowerment could help many people in our days, as diseases that are linked to our lifestyle (such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer) are increasing.

These diseases require a combined approach, which pays attention not only to drugs, but also to each person’s diet, physical activity and lifestyle in general.

This approach can only be successful if the patient is fully engaged with it and adopts it for a long time, if not for lifetime. 



Health and Being

In this quote, Dalai Lama talks about Health and Being.
These two words combined together make the name of this website.
My aim is to bring to the forefront information that can help others and myself reach health and wellbeing.
As a physician, scientist and historian I will combine these domains of knowledge, seeking an understanding of the significance of modern research findings.

The Dalai Lama was asked: 
“what surprises you the most?”.
He replied: 
“Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die,
and then he dies having never lived”.
Statue of Hygeia with snake in one hand and egg in the other (150-200 AD). Museum of Kos