For every ill — just drink more water

The new year saw me visiting a beauty salon. ‘Will they let you in, mum?' asked my son with his customary dry wit, but I rose above this derogation and took my Christmas treatment voucher to Cambridge.

There I had a delightful massage and indoctrination session. ‘Hmm,’ said the therapist, who wasn’t even a foetus when I entered medical school, ‘your skin is dehydrated — you don’t drink enough. I’m going to do a facial massage to get rid of your toxins. They build up if you don’t drink, and make you feel tired and dull.’

My mind was whirling. Toxins? In my face? Making me tired and dull? Where were they from, these toxins, and why hadn’t my kidneys or my liver had anything to say about it?

And dehydrated? Numerous cups of decaff coffee every morning should surely count as fluid replacement of some sort?

Oh no, quoth she, you need water. Tap water will do. And think about yoga. She shouldn’t really tell me this but it would help balance my chakra.

I wanted to ask if that was why I fell over after the port, but didn’t dare. She was telling me why I might want to smear whale blubber on my cheeks rather than soap, and why having my feet massaged would improve my menstrual cycle.

I eventually escaped bearing another appointment, six sachets of sheep placenta and a bottle of moisturiser never tested on goats. Oh, and £56 lighter in my purse.

Still, there is a different belief system operating here, and it smells nicer than ours. It involves nice treatments that aim to improve the way people feel, rather than horrid ones that improve the way doctors’ quality points feel. It may be barmy, but so is prescribing orlistat and lots of us do.

I reflect upon it as I start my next surgery and Mrs Big Bum comes about, well, her big bum. ‘You need to drink more water,’ I hear myself begin, ‘and take up yoga.’ You’re never too old to learn.

- Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk. You can write to her at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com

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