The cherry-flavoured way to perfect health

The allergist's room at the back of the shop looked less like a clinic than a fairground booth

"WHY?" ENQUIRED my friend, examining the white package on my kitchen table, "are you stirring cherry-flavoured chicken sternum cartilage into your coffee?"

"I should have thought that was obvious," I replied tartly (health food always makes me irritable), "particularly to someone like yourself in the medical profession." My friend is a doctor. "Well, tell me anyway," he said. And when I got my breath back, I did.

I should explain that even mixed with finest Jamaican Blue Mountain, cherry-flavoured chicken sternum cartilage tastes so appalling that, for a minute or so after I'd swallowed it, my entire system shut down. Half- an-hour later he had heard the whole sorry story and wasn't impressed, but then that usually is the way with NHS doctors when it comes to alternative medicine.

For the last year I have been a slave, as they say, to arthritis. I can't play Chopin or Joplin anymore, my fingers won't stretch that far. I can't run round the park because my trainers feel like horse shoes. Only my family and close friends know of my suffering for I am not one to complain. Nor do I believe in burdening others with my problems - unless, of course, they say how are you when I tell them in some detail about my condition.

To cut a long story short, I've tried everything - drugs, exercise, acupuncture, cod liver oil, prayer - no dice. It was my piano teacher who suggested that I might be allergic to something. She's so clever. She found me a whole bunch of tight-fisted Mozart sonatas to play instead of my usual repertoire of waltzes and rags and I'm struggling on. Anyway, she told me about this marvellous allergy-testing clinic in Putney where all you do is eat nothing for 24 hours then go first thing in the morning without even cleaning your teeth so that there's no trace, even of toothpaste, in your system. I balked a little at the prospect of boarding a Number 22 bus with unbrushed teeth, but needs must and I telephoned for an appointment.

"Good as New," said the woman at the other end. "Is this the allergy clinic?" I said. "No, it's a second-hand designer dress exchange," she replied. "The clinic's moved to Purley, but I'll give you the number." From where we live, Putney is a doddle; Purley is a schlepp. The good news was that I could clean my teeth. "We at the One Earth clinic prefer to test synogenistically with essential oils," explained Kadisha the Purley allergist, a dark, handsome woman swathed in fringed shawls, beads and gangling bracelets. Her cell-like room at the back of a health shop looked less like a clinic than a fairground booth where you might get your fortune told. Still, her manner was professional.

She strapped an electrode on to my left wrist, plugged the other end into what looked like a gas meter on the desk, opened a box containing 300 small glass phials and began. Inside each glass phial was the essential oil of a food substance which, via the electrode and the gas meter, registered a score between 1 and 10 on a small screen. One signified a void, 10 meant okay, five indicated caution. For the record, I must eschew milk, wheat, ketchup, chocolate, cloves, red meat and red wine. I should go easy on eel, pineapple and pickled onion and everything else I can pig out on including monosodium glutamates, soya cheese and quark, whatever that is. If I suddenly get the urge to eat rump steak, said Kadisha pocketing the pounds 50 cheque I'd just given her for her services, the poison would be counter-balanced by a solution of honey, cider vinegar and molasses.

She then wrote a long list of recommended health foods to which I was not allergic. All of them, surprisingly, were available in the shop at the front. They included Mrs Lepper's gluten-free millet pasta, Mrs Krimble's fat-free Dutch fruit cake, a nasty-sounding soya ice-cream called Dreem Kreem which, said Kadisha smacking her lips, was absolutely delicious and, of course, the famous cherry-flavoured chicken sternum cartilage to oil my joints.

Enough said. I bought everything on the list, including a home-made flap jack the size of a gym shoe. I ate it on Purley station waiting for the train. There was something curiously acrid about the taste and, come to think of it, the smell of that flap jack. Maybe it was a gym shoe. The man on the bench beside me looked at it hard, looked at me hard, then got up and moved to the other end of the platform. In the end I gave up the struggle and dropped it in the nearest bin where it lay on top of the sweep wrappers, heavy, inert and malodorous like a dead ferret. I promise you, compared to the chicken sternum cartilage that flap jack was fois gras and strawberries. "If I were you, I'd stick to asprins and cod liver oil for your arthritis," advised my doctor friend finishing his coffee. Maybe he's right - doctors sometimes are.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory