Coronavirus: Eight ways to support your immunity

Right now, we’re in the early stages of the COVID-19, coronavirus spread.  Some of us are self-isolating, businesses are beginning to close, people are getting sick.  At this time of panic and uncertainty, a great thing we can do to support ourselves and stay healthy is to support our immune system.

I’ve put together a list of evidence-based things we can all do to support our immune systems to be at their optimum.

Eight ways to support your immune system

  1. 1. Increase fruit and vegetables in your diet. At the moment food is becoming scarce! But if you’re able to, continue to eat a varied, healthy diet based on fruit and veg to provide your body with a wide range of micronutrients.  We may want to reach for comfort food right now, and that’s ok, as long as you balance with some nutrient-rich foods.

Increase fruit and vegetables

  1. 2. Aim to have 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night. Research shows that having good quality sleep strengthens your immune system. When we sleep, we create and release particular hormones, proteins and chemicals that are involved in fighting off infection and disease.  If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, you are lying awake worrying about things, and you feel very tired on waking, you may be suffering from sleep deficiency.  Try going to bed earlier.  Try to do more exercise earlier in the day rather than late at night.  Have a good routine before bed.  Try to top up on naps during the day.  Get outdoors in the morning to get some natural sunlight (see below).

Good quality sleep

  1. 3. Physical activity increases the strength of the immune system. We know that exercise increases blood circulation which in turn increases the movement of immune cells through the body. After exercise we also secrete more cytokines, a protein that regulates inflammation and is involved in fighting infection and trauma in the body.  If you can’t get out to do your usual exercise, think of things you can do at home like the gardening (with those added benefits of being outside), doing the housework, hoovering, running up and down the stairs, or doing some yoga or online workouts.
  1. 4. Whilst getting too much sun is considered harmful to the skin, getting short amounts of sun exposure is good for the immune system. Vitamin D produces anti-microbial molecules which aid immune functions.  Getting out for just 15 minutes a day is enough to produce the right amount of vitamin D.  There are also wider benefits to getting outside, including supporting your mental health and if you’re doing it in the morning, it’ll improve your circadian rhythms and in turn your sleep.  Try and get out into the garden, go for a walk somewhere spacious (the National Trust have just opened their parks and woodlands for free during the outbreak), or try to get some sun on your skin by opening the window!
  1. 5. Reduce and manage your stress levels. Hard to do when cooped up at home! But there are some simple and easy things you can do at home to help process stress. Find something that works for you, but you could try abdominal breathing, listening to music, dancing around like a loon in your front room, doing something creative like drawing, knitting, putting together a photo album, there’s social connection (see below), and of course, massage!

Listening to music

  1. 6. Washing your hands really is a great way to support your immune system, by effectively ridding you of anything you may have picked up unwittingly. Keeping surfaces clear and clean, washing tea towels and bath towels regularly, keeping up with the housework while we’re stuck at home!

Washing hands

  1. 7. Be moderate with your alcohol intake. Studies show that excessive alcohol can cause immunodeficiency, leading to increased illness. Like alcohol, caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and elevated cortisol levels are known to reduce the ability of your immune system to fight infections.  Make sure you stick to no more than two cups of coffee a day.
Glasses of wine
  1. 8. And last but not least, increasing social connection.  Whilst we may not be able to see our friends and family in person right now, picking up the phone or video calling and having a chat can help us feel supported, connected and lift our spirits.  We are all very good at communicating by text, on social media, by email.  But there’s nothing better than actually talking, having a conversation.  An having a good laugh with someone you love is one of the best medicines.  If you’re holed up with someone you’re physically close to, having a hug, giving someone a massage (of course!), having a kiss (and more!) releases a hormone called oxytocin which will relax you and in turn help to support your immune system.
social connection


So during this strange and unprecedented time, there are ways we can look after ourselves and others.  Stay safe and as healthy as possible people, and look after one another.


Hello! I’m Debbie, a holistic therapist passionate about helping people feel better using reflexology and natural therapies. I work with people who are living with stress, stress-related conditions, anxiety and depression to achieve a long-term shift in their physical and mental wellbeing, by reminding the body to relax, let go, and feel more at ease.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

Is Reflexology good for foot problems?

Does Reflexology help with local foot problems?


Reflexology is a popular holistic therapy that is well-known for its ability to support physical, emotional, and mental health. But did you know that it’s also an effective therapy for people who are experiencing issues with their feet?

As a reflexologist, I’ve noticed an increasing number of clients seeking treatment for local foot problems such as bunions, plantar fasciitis, and sore feet. In response to this growing demand, I’ve been researching and expanding my knowledge and skills in this particular area.

That’s why I was thrilled to discover Geraldine Villeneuve’s approach, knowledge, and techniques. Her book ‘Put Your Best Feet Forward’ is a must-read for anyone interested in addressing structural foot problems that can cause imbalances elsewhere in the body. Her specific reflexology and massage approach is both inspiring and effective.

As a fan of Geraldine’s work, I was excited to learn she was over in the UK this summer to run her first extended course here. I immediately jumped at the chance to book on, and couldn’t wait to further develop my skills in this area and offer even more effective treatments to my clients.

Structural Reflexology for Local Foot Problems

Structural Reflexology Course London June 2019

Structural Reflexology

Geraldine’s unique style of reflexology combines an understanding of the foot as a reflection of the body with extensive knowlege of foot function and alignment. This brings relief to problems with the feet and the rest of the body.

Feet need to be free to function as naturally as possible.  They are a complex and intelligent design! Shoes that are restricted in width and flexibility begin to cause problems such as broken arches, bunions, and sore and aching feet.

The structural reflexology session is 90 minutes long, and it covers the lower leg and the feet.  We use a combination of massage techniques, reflexology, PNF stretching (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) and joint mobilisation, working with the muscles and ligaments of the lower leg, feet and ankles.

These techniques seek to correct and relieve local foot problems that are causing symptoms elsewhere in the body.

If you have local foot problems including fallen arches (or ‘flat feet’), bunions, plantar fasciitis and other issues with the feet, this could be the treatment for you!

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of Structural Reflexology, do get in touch with me:

You can also find out more about Structural Reflexology through the founder’s website:

Coping with stress – interesting article

Stress Anxiety

Coping with stress and anxiety

It’s no secret that we all have our own unique ways of handling stress and anxiety. I recently stumbled upon this article in The Guardian that features a diverse group of successful people in medicine, media, sports, politics and business, sharing their tried-and-tested coping strategies for dealing with the daily grind.

What’s even more exciting is the cultural shift we’ve seen in recent years surrounding mental health and wellbeing. People are more open than ever about their struggles and how they manage them. The stigma is lifting and we’re all learning that it’s okay to not be okay.

Some of the great tips included in the piece are regular exercise, better sleep habits, unplugging from technology, being prepared, accepting that feeling nervous is normal, enjoying music, and practicing mindfulness.

As a practitioner of reflexology and other holistic therapies, I think these coping strategies mesh perfectly with the calming and healing benefits of these treatments. Reflexology in particular can be an amazing way to relax, recenter and find inner peace amidst the chaos of daily life.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety and want to try out reflexology or any of the other treatments I offer, please just drop me a line or give me a call.

New Year Growth

Wow! I am really excited.  I’ve just done my accounts for last month and I’ve had the most busy month since moving back to Bristol.  Seeing my holistic therapies business growing whilst supporting my clients with natural, holistic therapies is really where it’s at.  
I’m super excited! This January, I’ve welcomed some lovely new clients and have loved catching up with some regulars too.
It’s been hard to go from a busy practice in London to starting from scratch in a different city. It has been challenging, but it’s been great to see it all unfold.
I really do love my job; witnessing the changes that people make during and after a treatment is what makes my work so worthwhile.
A lovely new client last week relayed how after months of suffering from chronic sinusitis, her sinuses were clear after the first two sessions.  
I am happy. Here’s a (old) photo of me, happy!
I am getting booked up this month already, so please do get in touch with me or with the clinics directly in Knowle and Bedminster if you’d like to book in.
Happy Face

New Year Tension – The Perfect Antidote


First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful New Year! This new year, I’ve had a great flurry of bookings with me for Indian Head Massage.  In my work, it’s common to see seemingly random busier periods.  There’s a natural ebb and flow of clients, sometimes accompanied by a preference for certain therapies.  It’s fun to try and work out what’s behind it.

I’m pretty sure this recent influx for Indian Head Massage follows the craziness of the Christmas period.

Now I love Christmas Day; I love spending time with family and friends and celebrating.  The lead up, on the other hand, can be stressful!  Running around frantically trying to find the right presents, remembering the wrapping paper, the crackers, the Christmas decorations… It can go on and on!


Indian Head Massage

The Benefits of Indian Head Massage

What’s fantastic about Indian Head Massage is that it not only addresses physical tension, it also has an impact on emotional and mental tension too, working holistically.  These benefits are the perfect antidote to the stresses and strains of Christmas.

The massage focusses on areas of the body that often hold the stress of our daily lives; the upper back, shoulders, arms, neck, head and face. Computer work tightens the shoulders, phone calls and texting puts out your neck, stress built up at work and home may often lead to clenching your jaw and tension headaches, and worry and frustration often shows up in your face.  These daily stresses can multiply over Christmas. I’m surprised there isn’t a condition called ‘Christmas Jaw’!

Indian Head Massage is a seated massage, and you remain fully clothed.  This makes it accessible to a wide range of clients.  Adaptable to the space you’re in, it can be carried out at a clinic, in your own home or at work, making it easy fit into your working day.

If you think you would benefit from this wonderful treatment and would like to find out more, contact me or book in at the Wells Road Osteopaths in Knowle and the Centre for Whole Health in Bedminster.

Why Pollen Therapies?


How I chose my business name to reflect my love of bees, nature and the great outdoors 

Shortly after I qualified back in 2011 I had my first baby. Here I was, fresh after my course, raring to go with my reflexology, but with a tiny baby! I had had these wonderful ideas of supporting clients while my baby slept peacefully upstairs… Little did I know about those first few months of motherhood!

What I did have time for, though, was reflection.  I spent those first few months, during the long feeds and frequent nappy changes, mulling over names for my therapy business. I wanted something that captured who I am and what my business would be about – no mean feat! I kept returning to the affinity I have with bees; my name, Deborah, means bee in Hebrew and one of my earliest memories is trying to nurse a bee back to health as a child. I love the time of year the bees reappear suddenly as if by magic, signalling the shift in the seasons as the flowers begin to blossom.

Pollen Therapies also reflects my love of nature.  Our move to Bristol in 2016 was in large part to have greater access to the outdoors – having beaches, rolling hills, mountains and rugged coastline within easy reach is truly special.  We have “outdoor kids”; our eldest will attempt to climb every tree he comes across and is happiest running through everlasting fields, and our youngest will sit happily in a muddy puddle with slugs, snails and woodlice for company.

Being in connection with nature, using its wisdom and its gifts to support better wellbeing is fundamental to the work I do.  Mindful walks in nature is one of the best medicines we can support ourselves with and it is one of the most common pieces of advice I give to my clients.  Having just a few minutes every day outdoors, away from technology, feeling in the present, can have a great impact on our overall wellbeing.

Blending all these ideas together brought me to the name ‘Pollen Therapies’.  It always reminds me of what brought me to the work in the first place and what drives me to continue supporting clients.

If you’d like to find out about how reflexology and my other therapies can support you, please do get in touch.


Getting into Gardening


This year my partner and I have started gardening.  There’s a wealth of research out there into the physical and mental benefits of gardening.  We’ve really enjoyed getting out into the fresh air, get our bodies moving, and have time to nurture the space.

We moved last year to a new house that offers us space to both work from home.  With our new house came a big garden, perfect for our little two to run around in and cause havoc!

What became clear pretty quickly was that with a big garden comes much gardening… And so after a slow start, this year we started our gardening journey.  Little by little, we’re spending more time in the garden, taming the weeds, planting some new varieties, and tending to the more established ones.  We even grew tomatoes for the first time, and recently harvested them to our great delight; they were delicious!

When I was younger, gardening always seemed like something that ‘old people’ did.  I’m now one of those old people and I’m really benefitting from the mindful moments spent nurturing our outdoor space.

The Benefits of Gardening

The benefits of gardening are plenty.  Getting out in the garden keeps you physically active, but it also allows you some time to reflect and connect with nature.  Gardening gives you a chance to step away from the over-stimulating world of technology that we live in and slow things down.  There have been studies into the benefits of gardening for reducing anxiety and depression.

One of the most common pieces of advice I give my reflexology and massage clients is to get outdoors, even for five minutes a day, with no distractions, phone off, and have a mindful moment.  It really makes a huge difference and is easy to incorporate even into the busiest of lives.

My next project is making the perfect spot for this in my garden – a place for reflection and a cup of tea.  Bliss…



If at first you don’t succeed…


I recently achieved my diploma in Champissage, a special form of Indian Head Massage developed by  the late Narendra Mehta,  an MBE winning therapist who is credited with bringing Indian Head Massage to the UK back in the 1980s.  This therapy focuses on the shoulders, upper arms, neck, head and face, relieving muscular tension and promoting a more relaxed state.

I took the training course while I was pregnant with my second baby; I had a real drive to learn and expand my therapy skills before the baby arrived as I knew by experience that everything would be turned upside for a while afterwards!  During that time I also gained my qualifications in Thai Foot Massage and Facial Rejuvenation (Natural Facelift) Massage.

Almost immediately after the Indian Head Massage course, we had a series of changes in our lives.  We lost some family, we had our beautiful daughter, we moved cities, started new jobs, and life took over.

So Indian Head Massage took a bit of a back seat.

I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to complete my course, be qualified and start offering this wonderful therapy.  Finally in September 2017 I was able to restart my case studies and, with determination and grit, completed my case studies and exams in June 2018.

To achieve the diploma, I had to complete 25 case studies on five clients and report on my findings.  My final exams included both practical and theory; carrying out a complete session on my tutor, and a theory paper that included the anatomy and physiology of all the bones and muscles in the shoulders, arms, neck, head and face, and the physical and emotional benefits of the treatment techniques.

My tutor, Mary Dalgleish, a wonderful teacher and very experienced practitioner, has encouraged me to share my case study findings, and so below is the summary of my case studies, undertaken over the last nine months.

Here’s the photo of me immediately after passing my exams and achieving my diploma – I was absolutely delighted!

Achieving my Diploma in Indian Champissage June 2018

Indian Head Case Studies – Debbie Allardice 2017/2018

My Experience

I took the Indian Head Massage course back in 2014 when I was pregnant with my second child.  I started my case studies in 2015, but work, juggling the two kids and moving city to Bristol in 2016 saw me restarting my case studies in earnest in 2017.

Starting with my client ‘P’ in Sept 2017, my technique felt quite clunky. As I’ve been a practicing therapist for a few years now, learning a new skill and a new therapy can sometimes feel strange when I’m used to having fluidity with my other sessions.  Once you’ve mastered a new skill you’re able to employ your intuition and respond to the client’s needs more readily.

To help me to understand the approach for each move and the benefit and outcome intended, I referred back to the sequence and the notes during these initial sessions, which made these initial sessions feel disjointed. I bought the DVD so that I could refer back to the techniques visually, and this helped me to improve and gain a better understanding of the flow of the moves.  As my memory for the order of the techniques and their intentions and benefits improved, so did the connection I had with the client’s needs; I became more able to focus on the knots and tension that the client and work with those areas rather than focussing on each individual technique.

This progression made the overall treatment much more beneficial for the client but also much more rewarding for me.

Feedback from clients has also helped to make small changes that make a big difference to the session; initially I was tilting back the clients’ heads back too far to perform the moves on the face.  A couple of clients found their necks were stiff following the treatment, rather than more loose as I’d intended!  Adjusting the positioning of the pillow to support the client’s head during the facial moves made a huge difference to their experience.  I also managed to find a more comfortable chair for the clients after realising that the back was too high and the seat too rigid for some of them.

As the sessions progressed and my experience built, I was able to work more intuitively and with sensitivity to the clients’ needs, and gained the fluidity in delivering the session that I had aimed for.

The clients

What really seemed to connect each case study was the release of tension – physical and emotional – by the end of the session.  Whilst it’s a short treatment, the clients were able to leave feeling less tense, more relaxed and often more sleepy.   The more familiar with the session the clients became, the quicker they were able to relax into it.

The impact on their emotional wellbeing was quite striking in all cases.  This ability for the treatment to almost ‘break-down’ layers of stress and tension is worth noting, as clients may feel more relaxed but also more vulnerable at the end of the session.  It would be all the more important to be sensitive and supportive to clients feeling vulnerable following a treatment.

Some of the clients found that the techniques really improved blocked sinuses, relieved tension in their face and head and gave a feeling of clarity around their eyes.

The neck and shoulder tension that everyone seemed to have was so indicative of a commonality of computer use and desk-based work.  I would think to extend the sessions for people who had a big build up of tension in these areas so that I could focus on breaking this down over a course of treatments.

What is wonderful about this treatment is that it is short enough to be accommodated during a break from work or on an evening, with benefits that will last several days.

I’m really looking forward to offering this fantastic new treatment to my clients.

> If you’d like to come and try the wonderful benefits of Indian Head Massage, book a session with me at the Wells Road Osteopaths in Knowle or the Centre for Whole Health in Bedminster.

A new family tradition


Over the last few months my children have become really interested in what I do, and massage and reflexology seem to have become a daily topic in the house.

My eldest who’s just turned 7 (and is so excited about having done so), offers a neck massage to us grateful parents whenever he sees that we are tired or cranky.  He’s really enjoying developing his own techniques and seems to really relish being able to soothe us at the end of a tiring day.  My daughter, 3 going on 4, is experimenting with a form of ‘eye massage’ she’s developed – a surprisingly relaxing, very short massage around the eyes!

Most bath-times now include a little hand, foot or head massage, either me treating the children, the children practicing on each other or, amazingly sometimes, the children practicing on me!  It’s wonderful to see them really enjoying it and truly relaxing with a stroke of the hand, squeeze of the toes and a gentle twist of the feet.

I’m so happy that they are responding so well to this form of relaxation and are eager to practice it themselves.  They also seem to understand the benefit of helping others to feel better too.

Massage and reflexology for children is a wonderful way of bonding as a family and a great way to teach them how to soothe themselves in times of anxiety, stress or sadness.

A great book for little children that combines a story with some simple reflexology techniques you can use before bed, and a particular favourite of my daughter, is The Mouse’s House by Susan Quayle.

If you would like to find out how you can use massage and reflexology with your own children, contact me to discuss or book a session in South Bristol at the Wells Road Osteopaths or the Centre for Whole Health.

Reflexology Lymph Drainage

I’m really excited to now be offering a truly brilliant form of advanced reflexology: Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD).

RLD is an award winning reflexology technique originally developed by Sally Kay BSc (Hons) whilst working in Cancer Care. It was developed to mirror the basis of Manual Lymph Drainage massage via the reflexes of the feet to work with clients with unilateral secondary lymphoedema in Breast Cancer patients.

The techniques used aim stimulate the lymphatic system via the reflexes in the feet.

It is a truly wonderful, deeply relaxing treatment.

The effectiveness of the treatment for supporting people with secondary Lymphoedema has been researched and you can access the results online here.

The method includes using quantitative and qualitative data collection.  Measurements of the affected arm are taken to compare the volume size of the affected and the unaffected arm, and to compare any improvement in volume before and after the treatment.   Outcomes measures are also used to chart any changes in quality of life and everyday wellbeing.

RLD may also be beneficial for the same conditions that MLD has been used to support:

If you’d like to try this new great new technique, please do get in touch with me.