Spectator Health


May 2015

A cure for what ails you?

Were the ancients right about garlic as a great healer? Professor Edzard Ernst investigates



Editor's Letter

Editor’s letter

9 May 2015

Welcome to this, the fifth edition of Spectator Health. In this issue we have a powerful essay by Johann Hari telling the story of how our drug laws fail addicts.… Read more


Check up

Check up

9 May 2015

  The hidden perils of dining out   For many, eating out is associated with a treat. According to a new study, however, meals out are more likely to lead… Read more


Health spa

A Paris spa with a far-eastern difference

9 May 2015

 Mandarin Oriental, Paris   Visitors to the city of love are spoilt for choice when it comes to top-notch hotels. For that reason, demanding guests increasingly expect high-end spas that… Read more



The essential facts about post-mortems

9 May 2015

A post-mortem (also called an autopsy) is an examination performed after someone has died. There are two main reasons for performing a post-mortem in the UK. The most common is… Read more



The surprising power of garlic

I’d better declare a conflict of interest straight away: I am rather taken by anything to do with garlic, have researched it for more than 30 years, and am particularly… Read more

Illustration by David Humphries

The case for prescription heroin

9 May 2015

In 1982 a doctor called John Marks walked into a grey little GP surgery in the Wirral, in the drizzly north of England where they used to build ships but… Read more

Heads up: even among older people the brain can form new pathways

The balance cure: how I got back on my feet

9 May 2015

I don’t remember with any clarity the first time I fell, just a sudden awareness that rather than being perpendicular to the floor, I was lying on it. How strange, I… Read more

Are your tests up to date? New techniques such as endobronchial ultrasound are twice as readily available in France

Britain's shameful record on lung cancer

9 May 2015

General elections come and go — and pub bores bray about it not mattering who you vote for because the government still gets in — but illness does not have… Read more


Seven gadgets to make you fitter, stronger and better slept

9 May 2015

New gadgets — so-called wearables — are mapping our every waking move, helping us to track everything from calories to steps, heartbeats to hours in the sun. According to the… Read more

Green green grass… drinking milk gave early Europeans ‘a big survival advantage’

Don't tolerate being told you're dairy intolerant

9 May 2015

On the shelves of Whole Foods, a vast and vastly expensive American supermarket in west London, you will find 14 different types of cow-free milk. There are cartons of soya,… Read more


The misery of adult acne (and what to do about it)

9 May 2015

At some time in our lives we all hark back to blissful, carefree teenage years. We conveniently forget the tricky parts like the awkwardness, the embarrassing unrequited love — and those… Read more

Mr El-Amir in his surgery

The surgeon who's bringing new hope on Britain's commonest cause of blindness

9 May 2015

On the wall in Ahmed El-Amir’s consulting room in the Harley Street Eye Clinic is a framed antique poster depicting the world in two halves. ‘L’Ancien Monde et Le Nouveau’,… Read more


The five steps that helped me beat anxiety – and can help you too

9 May 2015

Like Christmas, Eurovision and tube strikes, it happens too often — a phone call that begins: ‘Hi Patrick. [Name] is having an anxiety meltdown. He/she is off work, not functioning,… Read more

Shore thing: leave sunbathing to reptiles or end up looking like one

Want to stay young? Stay out of the sun

9 May 2015

Nothing concentrates the mind of a 23-year-old medical student more than the failure to buy a drink in a bar. I was on my elective in Australia; a two-month period… Read more



Why the NHS needs less professional management

9 May 2015

I once had a medical secretary who, aged 65, was about to retire. She had been a secretary for about 45 years and was extremely competent. She knew how to spell… Read more


'Drink eight glasses of water a day'? Don't swallow it!

9 May 2015

In September 2013, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, lent her name to a major health campaign. That campaign was a drive to make Americans drink more… Read more


The greatest slogan in nutrition means much, much less than you think

9 May 2015

I remember when one was guaranteed two things from London cabbies — a good journey and a good natter. Once we’d done the weather, cyclists and the congestion charge, they… Read more


The sex counsellors' guide to happiness

Happiness has become a serious health issue. If you Google the words ‘happiness and longevity’ you’ll get over a million results — and while many of the claims will be… Read more


A carry-on at my convenience

9 May 2015

Five weeks on tour with Harvey the play, followed by a week at home and two days at a spa hotel with my chap, has discombobulated my nocturnal wanderings. I… Read more