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picalilly (Somerset, UK)

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Omron MIT Elite Plus Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Download Facility
Omron MIT Elite Plus Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Download Facility
Price: £84.20

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT A Winner, 14 July 2012
I have to use a blood pressure machine regularly and I initially bought this (over other monitors) for its flat design - thus better portability - and because it can apparently be used even if people have an irregular heartbeat (for which many monitors are inaccurate, a known problem for professionals). I know that the manufacturer Omron is a big name in the field of medical equipment, so I (wrongly) thought that I could trust their expertise for a professional product in this price range.

I bought it for £82 3 years ago - a bargain compared to its RRP £117.40 and was initially rather taken in by its shiny-clean appearance. I didn't let myself get disappointed that its software was not compatible with my Mac (it was not an essential requirement, otherwise I would have bothered to find out before my purchase) - I had hoped for OS compatibility in this day and age (even 3 years ago), but it was not to be.
I've been using it since purchase both for people with regular/irregular heartbeats (I Did want to give it a good try and used both the normal and the large cuffs appropriately). I have been comparing it regularly with other machines (all calibrated regularly).
I completely agree with the 2 previous reviewers who found its readings inaccurate, mostly too high.
IF you do several readings in a row, you'll notice the first one (after you switch on the machine) will almost always be high. If you do several sequential readings usually the next values will be lower and in a similar range to each other, which allows an average result that Still has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
As for the claim that it can handle an irregular heartbeat - NO, sorry, IT CANNOT.
Not with my machine (and yes, it was checked and calibrated etc etc.). Given that this was my main reason to purchase this machine I am very, very disappointed with its performance. The truth is that most monitors WILL struggle with an irregular heartbeat, but if you market your monitor as being capable of dealing with an irregular pulse, then you better deliver on your promise!
Mega-FAIL, Omron!!!
Readings done with this machine - mostly done for people with atrial fibrillation (which is a common cause for an irregular heartbeat) vary like crazy (just as an example - the first may be 144/97, the next after 1-2min might be 90/44 and another done afterwards may then be 110/60).
That Cannot be right and it happened again and again with different people of various shapes and sizes.

To rely on these inaccurate readings could potentially lead to life-threatening situations, both in acute and non-acute settings, both for professionals and lay people.
The battery life is miserably short if you use it regularly. Its design may be slick (and possibly its computer interface on which I cannot comment), but that's about the only positive thing I can say about this monitor.
I've given it a fair and independent trial (which made Duracell a happy company). I've wasted enough of my time with it.
2 stars because it is usable if you take repeat values, only 1 star (actually Zero) for people with atrial fibrillation.
NOT A WINNER.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2014 11:35 PM GMT


Blood of the Land (From the Sea, From the Earth Book 1)
Blood of the Land (From the Sea, From the Earth Book 1)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tad disappointed, 20 Jun. 2012
I have to admit that I was expecting more after having read the enthusiastic reviews from amazon UK and US. Sure, they did point out pros and cons of this book, but given that they unanimously gave 5 stars and they were from readers who love fantasy I thought I found a sure winner. I really wanted to like this book, but I am sorry to say that it's not for me. It failed to capture my imagination and it did not engage my emotions to root with any of the characters. Jumping between protagonists did not work for me, because I was not given much chance to engage with the first character before the scene changed to another person and then another. At some point I realised that I really didn't care about any of them and that I was only minimally curious to see where this story was going at all. I forced myself to read on despite my lack of interest, because it is clear that the author has put a lot of effort into this book and I respect that, but after 65% of the book I just gave up - if a book hasn't spoken to my heart and imagination for more than half its pages, it's really unlikely to change at the end. The money I spent on this book felt wasted, I've read better books for free, 1 additional star only to acknowledge the author's effort. Sorry.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2012 1:27 PM BST


Touched (The Marnie Baranuik Files Book 1)
Touched (The Marnie Baranuik Files Book 1)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Superb Find, 16 Jun. 2012
What an incredible find !!!

I got this urban fantasy book at a time it was still a kindle freebie and it was on a whim that I decided to pick it out of the pile of unread freebies that I have been stockpiling like a hamster to read during my holidays.

The story starts with the psi gifted heroine who used to assist 2 FBI cops to investigate a vampire serial murderer, after which she retires from her FBI work. The 2 agents return to ask her for help with another gruesome murder and this kicks off this fast-paced, foul-mouthed, explosive, sexy, funny and entertaining story (if you don't let a bit of gore spoil your enjoyment) featuring a sassy heroine that manages to leave (unintentional) disaster in her wake.
I don't want to give away the story and spoil anyone's fun, but for me it was one of those "can't put it down, can't stop reading, it's too much fun" books. I thought the fun factor was similar to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and for me that's huge praise, because that's my favourite urban fantasy series ever!

There were some confusing commas which distracted from the fast pace a few times, but otherwise I thought the book was very clean, compared to the typos one can usually find in kindle freebies. The cover felt a bit "run off the mill" which initially put me off reading the book, but that taught me yet again that you can't judge a book by its cover.

Thank you, AJ Aalto, for the fireworks you put on paper, I Loved this book and I can't believe it was your first book! I would have happily paid for it given its quality and now I can't wait for the sequel. Please write some comparable, kick-ass sequels! I really can't wait!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2012 8:54 PM BST


No Title Available

273 of 350 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable!!, 20 May 2012
I find that taking Vitamin D is a Must for me and my family, because we, like many people in the UK, barely have any exposure to sun - and did you know that if you apply SPF 8+ your skin doesn't produce vitamin D ? People of ethnic origins that have darker skins produce less Vitamin D than people with pale skin. If people come from a culture where the body is traditionally fully covered, they are also likely to lack vitamin D. It gets deposited in the body's fat stores, so that's why people who are overweight or obese have even lower levels, because the stored vitamin is not available in case of a deficiency. (That also explains why the highest dose of Vit D in foods can be found in oily fish, although other foods in general contain only very small quantities.)
These are all reasons why vitamin D deficiency has become a global phenomenon.

I use this product because it is high dose Vitamin D3 in an easily absorbable form and excellent value (almost a year's supply for just £11 if you choose to take a high dose) and I feel much better for doing so. This is Not a product suitable for vegetarians and vegans, because it is made from lanolin and contains gelatin. (I've seen nifty little vegan sprays on amazon that can either be sprayed directly into the mouth or on food - e.g. for picky little children, who also need supplementation with the same amount as adults!) Vitamin D does not need to be supplemented daily, you could take a weekly dose (e.g. if you take 3 of these softgels a week, it works out around 2150 IU a day which is a safe dose.)

This will be a really Looong review about what I found out about Vitamin D3, followed by my personal anecdote how I started taking it, so have a cuppa ready, if you are really sure you want to read the rest!

It is not just a product review (clearly I am using it, for the reasons mentioned below) but I wrote So Much info about vitamin D3 for all the people like myself who trawl through amazon reviews and learn from others! So if you want to know whether the product is great - it is and I am taking it. If you want to know Why I am taking it, read on.

First some of the facts (I have a scientific background and tend to keep up to date with nutritional news):

- Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, it is a HORMONE, which is produced in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol when we are exposed to sunrays (mostly UVB between 10:00-14:00, so if you avoid the lunchtime sun as you're supposed to, and then also put on sunscreen SPF 8+ ...you will produce very little or no vitamin D. SPF15 is designed to absorb 99% of all UVB. At other times of the day and between October-March (in the UK) the sunrays don't hit the skin at the angle necessary for absorption/Vit D production.)

I will continue using the historical term "vitamin" but it is wrong. If we called it "hormone D" as some of the researchers already proposed, then it'd be easier, perhaps, to get our heads around how a deficiency can have so many different effects and be associated with so many "big" illnesses.
It's easy to understand the concept that a lack of insulin can lead to diabetes, a lack of sexual hormones to menopausal symptoms, a lack of thyroid hormones to hypothyroidism, treatment with (artificial) steroid (hormones) to a multitude of side effects like thinning of the skin, obesity, high sugar, high blood pressure, thinning of bones, etc. The skin is our biggest organ and hormone D3 = cholecalciferol is the hormone it produces (in fact it produces a precursor), so it makes it easier to understand how a deficiency can have a massive impact on a lot of processes in the body, because hormonal effects are always global, they don't occur just in one particular site.

- Vitamin D3 = cholecalciferol (found in animals) is the form we have in our bodies, Vitamin D2 = ergocalciferol (found in plants). A recent meta-analysis of 50 studies & > 90.000 people looked at the mortality and relative risk reduction when supplementing with Vit D3 versus D2 - the relative risk reduction was 6% lower with D3, but the mortality (relative) risk was actually 2% Higher with D2, so make sure you take Vit D3!!

- Research of recent years found that vitamin D influences > 2700 genes (see a fairly recent article in the New Scientist this year, sorry, don't have issue number, the research was done at the university of Oxford autumn 2011) and seems to be linked to a multitude of health problems including MS, osteoporosis/osteomalacia/ricketts, asthma, diabetes, depression, chronic aches and pains, psoriasis, several cancers (?17, including breast/prostate/bowel/lymphoma), loss of cognitive function, auto-immune conditions like SLE (a study found 86% of rheumatology patients to be Vit D deficient), Crohn's, low immunity

- intake recommendations have been revised/upped to 600 IU ( IU = international unit) for age 0-71 (infants 0-12 months 400 IU) and 800 IU for age 71+ - that's in the US.
There are some researchers who say these doses are too low. E.g. read the info/book by Dr. Zaidi, an endocrinologist and former associate professor at the UCLA from southern California who found All his patients were deficient in Vit D3 (except one lady who works as a lifeguard!). Dr. Zaidi himself says his patients usually need between 2000-6000 IU a day, but he carefully monitors their blood levels every 3 months and so far he hasn't had patients with vitamin D toxicity. - BTW I have no affiliation with him or any company selling Vit D!!

Update 21/08/12 - ****The European Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies has recently increased their tolerable upper limit to 4000 IU for adults and teenagers older than 11y, despite finding no evidence of hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) and hypercalciuria (too much calcium in the urine) in supplementation up to 11000 IU a day. The panel proposed an upper limit of 2000 IU a day for children between 1-10y. For infants < 1y the upper limit was set at 1000 IU a day. (Article can be found in the European Food Safety Journal.)****

- so far studies have confirmed benefits for bone health, but not for the other conditions studied (but studies involved a plethora of different regimes and included both D3 and D2 - look e.g. at the Mayo clinic website [...] and search for Vitamin D - which will give you details on studies, health conditions, dosing and Safety).

UPDATE 14/7 **** To be honest, the dose of your supplementation should depend on your actual values (I'm talking about the usual UK measures, sorry don't remember measurement units, but <10 = Really Bad News, you better supplement ASAP otherwise you are at risk of osteomalacia (softening of bones) and a multitude of other problems, <40 = deficiency, still requires supplementation, and above 40 is considered normal. There are people who suggest levels should ideally be between 60-100 (which are still considered normal), because then the first pre-requisite step in cancer formation Cannot actually take place - as usual, more research is needed. (Thanks to a fellow Vit D enthusiast who shared this info on amazon and suggested further reading about Prof. Michael Holick's research which I've done today.)
I personally think - whether fully confirmed or not, do I really need to wait until scientists find a confirmation for this theory, when I could run at high, but still normal levels? **** (back to original review)

- Scotland has the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the world (MS is rarely found in Asia and Africa, compared to northern countries) and a vitamin D researcher has been warning the Scottish government about the link between MS and vitamin D deficiency for > 10 y (it was in the news some months ago), asking them to introduce food fortification with Vit D (hasn't happened yet)

- taking doses higher than recommended could potentially cause side effects, so you take higher doses at your own risk. Be cautious in particular if you or any of your family have a history of kidney stones! (Funnily enough, despite these warnings, all the books I've read of people who are experienced in the management of Vit D deficiency state "I haven't seen any vitamin D toxicity in any of my patients so far, but"...) Particular caution is also needed in sarcoidosis, certain types of cancer, primary hyperparathyroidism and Tb.

- to help reduce the risk of side effects from taking Vit D, you'd benefit from Vit A (ideally from colourful veg rather than supplements), magnesium and
ESPECIALLY Vit K2 (which helps prevent calcification of organs/arteries, etc which is one of the risks when taking high D3 doses). Vitamin A, K and D are all fat soluble, so make sure you eat something that contains fat if you take these supplements in tablet form, and obviously you'd need an adequate intake of calcium as well!
(This is not a review about K2 but it has been hailed as "the next vitamin D3" and can only be obtained in minimal quantities from foods - I STRONGLY recommend taking Vit K2, PARTICULARLY if you intend to continue on high doses of Vit D3!! I would recommend a mix of so-called MK-4 and MK-7 vitamin K2, if you can find that, but if not, even "just" the regular K2 / MK-7 will do. Vitamin D3 tells the body to absorb more calcium and vitamin K2 then directs the calcium to the correct locations. I have not seen the studies myself, but it is said that Vit K2 can even reduce furring of the arteries, something I've only ever heard in connection with statins before, which is obviously a Big marketing point.)

- certain drugs further deplete the body of Vit D, especially STEROIDS (including inhaled ones), antiepileptic drugs (e.g. Phenytoin) etc.
- people who suffer from chronic kidney impairment are less able to metabolise vitamin D properly, so they are more likely to be Vit D3 deficient. Some of you might not even be aware that this is the case - but you can ask your GP about it - especially about something called eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate). If it is < 60 ml/min, you would fall in the stage 3 (or higher) category of chronic kidney disease (called CKD 3 which is very COMMON in older people, especially if they suffer with high blood pressure (+/- diabetes) and also take medication that may affect the kidney function - you may want to discuss this with your GP, including Vitamin D levels (and good blood pressure control)

- as I already said above, Vit D gets stored in fat, so people who are overweight have even lower levels. It gets produced in the skin, so when the skin thins as an effect of ageing or (steroid intake), it is less capable of producing Vit D.

There are several books on Vitamin D out there (as I said, I found Dr Zaidi's very useful), so do the reading for yourself, the info is on the internet and available as kindle books.

What follows is my own anecdote how I became aware of my own lack of hormone D.

Last year I went through a stressful period of working 14-15 hours daily for several months, the majority of time being spent in front of a computer screen. I felt as if I aged overnight and all my muscles and joints felt creaky and painful. Before going to a GP I thought that I could try to see how I can help myself first and bought several supplements in case I had become deficient (though I have a very healthy diet, don't smoke and barely ever drink alcohol)..
I took a handful of supplements and right the next day, after a refreshing 6h sleep I woke up at 6 am (normally I barely manage to crawl out of bed, tired and aching, like a zombie around 8am!). In those days I had to take 2 Paracetamols first to get rid of my joint aches before starting my day and there I was, fresh as a daisy and without pain! It was absolutely amazing, because I had taken that handful of supplements just before I went to bed! How could a single dose of *whatever* make such a dramatic impact? I was totally puzzled.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that this was not a particularly clever self-experiment, because there I was, with my own miracle cure and WITHOUT A CLUE which vitamin/supplement had done it! And taking them all longterm was Not an option for me. I narrowed the suspects down to Vit D and Vit B12 which are found in animal products only in very small quantities and are dependent on several other things for their absorption, so it makes sense that they'd be the ones I'd lack.

I started taking Vitamin D3 and that seemed to make all the difference, because I stopped having joint aches and didn't pick up a single cold this winter ( I had Loads and I mean LOADS of opportunities to do so!). I put my husband onto it as well and he noticed the same effect, his immune system became stronger and his skin got much smoother. I didn't have creaking joints anymore, so I bullied my parents into starting taking it, because my mum suffers from really painful osteoarthritis and I have started wondering whether osteoarthritis might be linked with a D3 (& omega 3) deficiency. I'll update this review if she reports any benefit.
I have also started taking Vit K2 and magnesium, because I don't want to risk side effects from my 5000 IU dose of Vitamin D - I have considered cutting down to 2000 IU at some point, but for now I feel so good that I don't want to change a thing!!

UPDATE 03/07/12 - after a few months of taking 5000IU daily, I have reduced the dose to one softgel about 3 times a week (which still gives me the equivalent of roughly 2100 IU daily), because I expect my stores to have been replenished in the meantime. So far so good, I haven't noticed any further change since doing that.
Comment Comments (45) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2014 2:56 PM GMT


Biotivia PteroMax Multi-Stilbene Capsules Pack of 60
Biotivia PteroMax Multi-Stilbene Capsules Pack of 60

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are you a human guinea pig?, 26 Mar. 2012
At the time of my review in March 2012 there is a 5 star review promising this product is natural and will improve your energy levels. The product information promises help for neurodegenerative disorders etc. Guess what - at present there is NO scientific evidence showing any benefit of Pterostilbene in humans, the first human study of its effects on metabolic changes is due to finish in 2013 and the rest is just extrapolation from animal data. Forget the claims the company makes about "published scientific evidence" - THERE IS NONE for humans at this point and very little on animals, mostly rats. If you consider taking this product, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be a guinea pig for a supplement that has not yet been properly assessed. You would take an expensive substance that despite being found in nature, was never meant to be consumed in such quantities. The equivalent of 100 kg of blueberries? Would you genuinely eat 100 kg of anything in one go? Consider that substances that might be beneficial at certain levels can become toxic in excessive quantities and that the benefits of fruit and veg intake mean you get a Combination of substances which work synergistically - many of which have not been investigated for their effects on human health or even discovered yet. The promises made in the product information are pure fabrication, because there is NO DATA in humans at this point - more research is needed to show whether this substance is beneficial for humans or not. As things stand at present - buy this only if you have money to burn.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2012 10:45 PM BST


Biotivia PteroMax Multi-Stilbene Capsules Pack of 30
Biotivia PteroMax Multi-Stilbene Capsules Pack of 30

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars False reviews and shameless marketing ploys masquerading as Amazon reviews, 26 Mar. 2012
At the time of my review in March 2012 there are several 5 star reviews for a product, at least one of which is from someone called J. Betz "real name". What an incredible coincidence that the managing director of Biotivia, the company selling this product, is called James Betz. I accept this may not be an unusual name, but it isn't the most common name on the planet either, so if they are indeed one and the same person, I would ask why J. Betz does not bother to disclose his affiliation with his company while highly praising a product that has not yet been fully tested on humans. At present there is NO scientific evidence showing any benefit of Pterostilbene in humans, the first human study of its effects on metabolic changes is due to finish in 2013 and the rest is just extrapolation from animal data. If you consider taking this product, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be a guinea pig for a supplement that has not yet been properly assessed. You would take an expensive substance that despite being found in nature, was never meant to be consumed in such quantities. The equivalent of 100 kg of blueberries? P-L-E-A-S-E. Would you genuinely eat 100 kg of anything in one go? Consider that substances that might be beneficial at certain levels can become toxic in excessive quantities and that the benefits of fruit and veg intake mean you get a Combination of substances which work synergistically - many of which have not been investigated for their effects on human health or even discovered yet. There is One genuine review for this expensive stuff at present, the other reviews seem to be shameless advertising, so buy this if you have money to burn.


GlycoExcel 100% Immune System Energy Boost 433mg X 60 Caps
GlycoExcel 100% Immune System Energy Boost 433mg X 60 Caps
Offered by Dosho Fitness
Price: £24.95

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bogus claims, 3 Mar. 2012
I realise some people will try to crucify me for not having wasted almost 30 quid before I posted a one star review about a product (I'd give it 0 stars if I could), but if you continue reading (and also read the comment I posted under the only other review at this point - an enthusiastic 5 star review) you may understand the reasons why I felt that I needed to write a review.

I have a strong suspicion that the previous review by snooker jimmey is not a genuine review at all. It smells too much of one of these marketing ploys to which some Amazon market-sellers seem to resort in recent times in order to promote their products. The market of supplements - big business in a time when many people try to help themselves by turning towards natural products, seems in my opinion more afflicted than other products by this new "malady" of fake amazon reviews..

The seller does not burden the Amazon customers with a list of the ingredients contained in this miraculous product. Why should we be allowed to make up our own mind about the ingredients (and possibly look them up +/- compare prices) - no need, the seller gives us all the information we need - it is "natural" and the helpful reviewer assures us that at £24.95 this product is in fact MUCH CHEAPER than products containing similar ingredients. The pseudo-scientific babble supposed to give it more credibility does not make much sense (e.g. there are no such things as "mitochondria cells" - mitochondria are Parts of our cells, small but vital elements within cells which have come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years, hence probably their inclusion in the product claims).

Not only that, but it is apparently supposed to bring relief to chronic fatigue/CFS and fibromyalgia/FMS sufferers and ALL other musculoskeletal conditions.
Anyone who has come across CFS and FMS sufferers knows that they are often among the most vulnerable and desperate people - because they suffer from disabling symptoms and chronic pain, for which they often have to take multiple drugs like strong painkillers and antidepressants. In many cases these drugs do not even control their symptoms properly, but at least they allow the sufferers to just about cope with the burdens of daily life. These are people who would do Anything to get better and £24.95 may seem like a small price to pay, compared with all the money the majority of them have often already spent on various other remedies, supplements and sessions with multiple complementary practitioners.

To claim that studies have shown that 91% of CFS/FMS sufferers achieved "complete control" of their symptoms after using this miraculous supplement is nothing but misleading and unethical. I am concerned that these claims could create false hopes in people who already have enough on their plates, without falling for some overpriced bogus product - this is the reason why I have written this review.

There is NO such miraculous treatment for CFS, FMS or any degenerative musculoskeletal conditions on the market today - if one had been discovered, trust that you would have already heard of it by now, because it Would have spread all over the media. Yes, it would be a product worth billions of pounds and a lot of big headlines, not just a fake 5 star review on Amazon.


Logic3 Wii Fit Balance Board Cushion Mat (Wii)
Logic3 Wii Fit Balance Board Cushion Mat (Wii)
Offered by SJD Spares
Price: £12.96

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 2 Dec. 2008
Stays where it's put & provides a good grip. More comfortable than the board, without changing performance. Also, it seems easier to clean than the board itself. I can't fault this product.


Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved
Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved
by Maryam Mafi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody speaks to the heart like Rumi, 2 Dec. 2008
Rumi's poetry goes straight to the heart. I absolutely love it and can really say that it changed my life.


Nintendo Wii Console (Includes Wii Sports)
Nintendo Wii Console (Includes Wii Sports)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars, 2 Dec. 2008
I do not have much to add to the 471 reviews so far, only that playing the Wii is pure fun and Nintendo has revolutionised the market with its innovative technology!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2008 7:46 PM GMT


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