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Newsletter June 2011

Dear Éiriú Eolas family,

The season, whether in the northern hemisphere, or the southern is now
(hopefully for the north) in full swing. We hope wherever you are on the
BBM (“big blue marble”) this finds you happy and well.

This month we’re bringing you an article on the importance of Vitamin D in
maintaining good health. Where ever you are, getting enough of the
“sunshine vitamin” can be a problem with our mostly urban, indoor
lifestyle, regardless of the weather or season. After reading this
article you’ll want to be sure your levels are at their optimum.

Ollie Hopkins is featured in this month’s “Meet the Teacher”. He is one
of the latest group to be certified as an Éiriú Eolas teacher, and along
with his fellow graduates, is a welcome addition to our ranks. He is from
England, currently teaching in Leicester.

With new teachers being certified, Eiriu Eolas has been growing steadily.
We will be featuring them in future issues. In the meantime, you can
check out the latest events on the EE website here

If you’ve just joined us, you can find all our previous newsletters
archived here eiriu-eolas.org/category/newsletters

Finally, we’d love to get to know you all through the magic of the
internet. The Forum eiriu-eolas.org/forum is a wonderful place to
meet fellow practitioners as well as the teachers, and get your questions
answered in real time, if you don’t have access to classes in your area.

Remember, Breathe Life!

The Éiriú Eolas Team

Featured teacher: Ollie Hopkins

For Ollie, a seemingly lifetime searching for a self-healing technique that anyone could use, and a deep down knowing that it had to with breathing and mastering it, led him to the Éiriú Eolas breathing meditation programme.

“Before, nothing that I’d found lasted, hence experiencing Éiriú Eolas was a revelation! I knew instantly that I’d found that self-healing programme that anyone could do with rapid benefits. And all this, achieved without people needing to have any special ‘set ups’. The techniques are completely natural and easy to learn. It was what I’d been looking for to share with other people. There was the added benefit that I could ‘walk my talk’, through my own experience, empathize with where people are, able to recognize what people are experiencing, and what may happen as the classes progress: emotional release and detoxification that I’d experienced from the beginning, and still am!”

One major point that has impressed Ollie is the scientific grounding of the techniques within the programme.

“What really impressed me, right from the beginning, was the tremendous amount of research behind it, backed up by accepted medical papers and books in various disciplines.”

And for Ollie, this research continues with feedback from practitioners worldwide, enhancing the process: its practical application, with full access to the forum, to share experiences, to receive any feedback asked for, and access to a much wider community of users.

A couple of other things have impressed Ollie too.

“Another thing I like is the community aspect to the teaching, the provision of a safe environment where people are respected, listened to, be understood and helped. On top of the breathing and meditation work there is the dietary advice recommended that allows the body to safely detox, which when combined with the breathing meditation can lead to significant improvements in overall health. All in all, it’s a beautiful context in which to teach.”

As a qualified engineer, business manager, psychotherapist, and now retired, Ollie is now focused on sharing the Éiriú Eolas program with retired people, those who are unwaged, students and people with health problems.

Starting in June, 2011, Ollie’s classes are held every Tuesday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, at the Friend’s Meeting House, 16 Queen’s Road, Leicester, LE2 1WP. You can contact him on Tel: 0116 270 9066, or by email: oliver@eiriu-eolas.org.

The virtues of Vitamin D: It’s time we saw the light

There’s no such thing as a cure-all, but Vitamin D comes pretty close. Jeremy Laurance explains how a little sunshine could help you live a lot longer.

It may not be the first supplement to be called a “wonder
vitamin”, but it is one of the few to have lived up to the name.
Last week, the biggest review of the role of vitamin D in health
found that people who took supplements of the vitamin for six years
reduced their risk of dying from all causes.

Overall mortality

It was the proof that researchers had been waiting for. Earlier
studies had suggested that vitamin D played a key role in
protecting against cancer, heart disease and diabetes –
conditions that account for 60 to 70 per cent of all deaths in the
West. The new study, by scientists from the International Agency
for Research on Cancer in Lyon and the European Institute of
Oncology in Milan and published in Archives of Internal Medicine,
shows that it does. The review of 18 trials involving 57,000 people
found that those who took the supplements had an 7 per cent lower
risk of death overall during the six-year period of the study.

Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard
School of Public Health, said that the research added “a new
chapter in the accumulating evidence for the beneficial role of
vitamin D on health”. He called for a debate on the merits of
“moderate sun exposure, food fortification with vitamin D and
higher dose supplements for adults”.

Vitamin D is important because we are often short of it. Most
healthy individuals get all the vitamins and minerals they need
from eating a balanced diet, but vitamin D is the exception. It is
made by the action of sunlight on the skin, which accounts for 90
per cent of the body’s supply. Very little comes from food.

But the increasing use of sunscreens and the decreasing amount
of time spent outdoors, especially by children, has contributed to
what many scientists believe is an increasing problem of vitamin D
deficiency. In the winter, the sun in Britain is barely strong
enough to make the vitamin, and by spring, say scientists, 60 per
cent of the population is deficient (defined as a blood level below
30ng per millilitre).

Colds and flu

The traditional advice for avoiding these winter ailments has
been to swallow large quantities of vitamin C. But we may have been
turning to the wrong vitamin. Researchers from Winthrop University
Hospital in Mineola, New York, found that giving supplements of
vitamin D to a group of volunteers reduced episodes of infection
with colds and flu by 70 per cent over three years. All the
participants were Afro-Caribbean women whose dark skin means that
they make less vitamin D. The researchers said that the vitamin
stimulated “innate immunity” to viruses and bacteria. The decline
in vitamin D levels between November and March could be the
“seasonal stimulus” that accounts for the peak in colds and flu in
the winter. “Since there is an epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency
in the US, the public health implications of this observation could
be great,” the researchers wrote.

Heart disease

High rates of heart disease in Scotland have been blamed on the
north’s weak sunlight and short summers. Differences in sunlight
may also explain the higher rates of heart disease in England
compared with southern Europe. Some experts believe that the health
benefits of life in the Mediterranean may have as much to do with
the sun there as with the regional food.

A study of almost 10,000 women over 65 by the University of
California found that those who took vitamin D supplements had a 31
per cent lower risk of dying of heart disease; researchers at the
University of Bonn found lower levels of vitamin D in patients with
chronic heart failure.

Vitamin D works by lowering insulin resistance, which is one of
the major factors in heart disease. It is also used by the thyroid
gland, which secretes a hormone that regulates the body’s levels of
calcium, which in turns helps regulate blood pressure.


A 40-year review of research found that a daily dose of vitamin
D could halve the risk of breast and bowel cancer, two of the
biggest cancer killers. Scientists from the University of San Diego
reviewed 63 scientific papers published since the 1960s and
concluded that there was a need for “public health action” to boost
vitamin D levels. They said that a daily dose of 1,000
international units (25 micrograms) was needed; the recommended
level in the US is currently only 400 units. Vitamin D deficiency
“may account for several thousand premature deaths from colon,
breast, ovarian and other cancers annually,” they wrote in the
American Journal of Public Health.

The research showed that African Americans with darker skins and
people living in the north-eastern US, where it is less sunny, were
more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, and had higher cancer
rates. This could explain why black Americans die sooner that
whites from cancer, even after allowing for differences in income
and access to health care.

In June, the Canadian Cancer Society recommended that adults
start taking vitamin D supplements to reduce their risk of


This is the disease traditionally linked with vitamin D
deficiency. A century ago, the typical bow-legged gait of children
whose bones had softened and deformed in the absence of the vitamin
was a common sight. Cod liver oil, which contains vitamin D, was
introduced as a welfare food in 1942 and virtually eliminated the
condition. Now, rickets is reappearing. Last June, doctors in
Dundee reported five cases in ethnically Asian children; dark skin
produces vitamin D more slowly than lighter skin.

Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium, which is the
building material for new bones. As well as leading to rickets,
deficiencies can contribute to poor tooth formation, stunted growth
and general ill health.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is consulting on
a proposal to recommend supplements for certain pregnant women at
risk: vegans and women who cover their skin for religious reasons.
Supplements are already recommended for infants at risk, and are
available free to families on income support and jobseeker’s


Vitamin D supplements given to babies born in Finland reduced
their risk of Type 1 diabetes by 80 per cent. Researchers followed
12,000 children born in 1966 until 1997 and found that those who
developed rickets, indicating vitamin D deficiency, were three
times more likely to become diabetic. Vitamin D is believed to act
as an immunosuppressive agent, which may prevent an overly
aggressive response from the immune system from destroying
insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

In Oxford, the number of five-year-olds with diabetes has
increased fivefold, and the number of 15-year-olds with it has
doubled. Doctors say that this increase is too steep to be caused
by genetic factors, and must be due to changes in the environment.
“Our research shows that an alarmingly high number of people in the
UK do not get enough vitamin D,” said Elina Hypoponen, from the
Institute of Child Health in London, who led the Finland study. “In
winter, nine out of 10 adults have sub-optimal levels.”

Multiple sclerosis

The idea that sunlight might protect against MS arose because
the condition is more common in countries further from the equator:
gloomy Chicago has a higher rate than sunny Florida, for example.
Cloudy Scotland has the highest rate of MS in the world. Scots born
in May, after the long, dark winter, have an above-average risk,
while those born in November, after the summer holidays, have the
lowest risk.

Sir Donald Acheson, former UK Chief Medical Officer, published a
study in 2004 suggesting that people who spent more time in the sun
had a lower risk than those who stayed out of it. Published in the
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, it concluded that a
certain level of exposure to the sun might be necessary throughout
the year.


Could vitamin D deficiency be behind the explosion in autism?
John Cannell, a psychiatrist and vitamin D advocate, thinks so. The
evidence is circumstantial, but Cannell says that medical advice to
avoid the sun and cover up since the 1980s has paralleled the rise
in autism. Flagging levels of vitamin D could be the decisive
factor. Dr Richard Mills, research director at the National
Autistic Society, said: “There has been speculation about autism
being more common in high-latitude countries that get less
sunlight, and a tie-up with rickets has been suggested –
observations which support the theory.”

How to get it – and how much you should take

* 90 per cent of the body’s supply of vitamin D is generated by
the action of sunlight on the skin.

* Vitamin D lasts for around 60 days in the body, so it needs
regular topping up.

* Twenty minutes twice a week in the sun with exposed hands,
arms and face is adequate to maintain reserves.

* There is no recommended supplementary dose in the UK.

* In the US, the recommended supplementary dose is 400
international units a day.

* Some scientists say that 1,000 international units of vitamin
D a day may be necessary to prevent disease.

* Vitamin D supplements cost around 5p a day.

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