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The two sisters sat in the airport lounge, waiting for their flight to Kerala. It was delayed. They were keen to get going. Their mother had died the day before and they were going to settle her affairs. “She had a good life. She lived to 97,” explained one of the sisters. “You know what her secret was? Coconuts.”

THE shortlist; 10 WAYS TO GIVE UP SMOKING

Hypnotherapy: Maureen Kay quickly pinpoints the reason why you smoke in a pre-trance chat, making hypnosis more effective. One-hour session costs pounds 120. Contact The Good Health Clinic, 182-186 Kensington Church St, London W8 (0171 221 2266), or call the National Council of Hypnotherapists (01590 683770) for a hypnotherapist near you.

Trance meeting

Most people's idea of hypnotism is either a steely-eyed Svengali or grown men being dragged on stage and turned into thumb- sucking two- year-olds. Just what Serena Mackesy thought, until she fell under the spell of a certain Mr McKenna ...

Letter: Research into alternative medicine is alive and well

Emma Brooker says: "Health-Watch defines itself as `pro- science' and aims to dispel the miasma of woolly thinking and half-truth which, it claims, hangs over the world of alternative health".

Colin Stagg contemplates the truth

Man cleared of Rachel Nickell murder submits to trial by television, reports Louise Jury

Alternative methods of relaxation: Healthy Pregnancy

Last year midwives at Watford Hospital recruited more than 600 pregnant women to take part in a research project, writes Lee Rodwell. The results - now awaiting publication - will be of interest to those who believe massaging the perineum with almond oil can reduce tearing or the need for an episiotomy when the baby is born.

Aromatherapists pour oils on troubled ailments

Aromatherapy, once regarded as the preserve of cranks and "new-agers", has finally arrived in the mainstream and is becoming available on the NHS.

When the dream of motherhood dies

For many women the prospect of a baby is shattered by the nightmare of miscarriage.

Letter: Germ war

The arrogance of the Darwinian doctors never ceases to amaze me. For the past few decades, they have supported a system of medicine based largely on drug suppression of symptoms, and totally derided everything else. Now, according to Kenan Malik ("Why illness means health", Review, 23 June), they claim credit for common-sense ideas one can read any day in journals sympathetic to alternative and complementary medicine.

NHS 'rationing' to affect range of treatments

Infertility treatments and a range of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures are becoming less available on the NHS, according to the the latest survey of health authorities purchasing plans.

Cancer research muddle that put the fear of death into Sheila Hancock

Sheila Hancock will not forget the day she heard that the chances of her dying from her breast cancer had doubled. The prognosis came not from her doctor, or consultant, or nurse, but from the TV set in the corner of the hospital room where she was recovering from a gall bladder operation one autumn evening.

Hypnotic tapes claims were inflated

Paul McKenna, the television hypnotist, put his name to exaggerated claims about "powerful hypnotic tapes" his company was selling, the Advertising Standards Authority said yesterday. It was upholding a complaint challenging claims made for the audio tapes in a national newspaper advertisement.

Cold turkey can give you cold feet

For those addicted to their daily fix of nicotine, stopping smoking is as difficult as giving up heroin. But help is at hand. Sarah Lonsdale surveys the options

Interest grows in 'new' cures

GLENDA COOPER

Multiple choice Sclerosis

Beta-interferon is just the latest treatment for MS sufferers. Nick Walker looks at the bewildering array of therapies

Beta patient wins right to a brighter future

CASE STUDY
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Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...