Come to our Diploma Open Day in March 2017

We are happy to announce details of a Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine open day at Engineers House on 18th March 2017, designed to give a taster of our upcoming Diploma for Integrative Medicine.

This whole day seminar is aimed at healthcare professionals, CAM practitioners and students interested in finding out more about cardiovascular health from an Integrative Medicine (IM) perspective.

If you are interested in furthering your medical career by exploring Integrative Medicine in a professional, academic setting, please do email to reserve a place.

Further details can be found on our Facebook event page, which is here.

Weekly Hot Nutrition Tip: Beetroot

Beetroots are one of the healthiest vegetables to eat regularly – especially for people with high blood pressure.


Recent studies found that drinking a glass of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure for people with mild hypertension – it’s thought this is due to the high nitrate levels contained in the juice. This gets converted into nitric oxide in your body, which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels. It therefore improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

A study at Exeter University reported that beetroot juice also helps increase stamina and oxygen uptake by the body. It has been hypothesised that it may also help proper functioning of the brain – slowing down the onset of dementia.

Its wonderful crimson colour is due to the high phytonutrient content it contains.

Do you want to learn more about the medicinal and wellbeing benefits of food such as olive oil? Sign up to our Food for Wellbeing course here!

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Homeopathy: the Facts

We are proud to provide the NHS Homeopathy Service in Bristol and the South West. For further information about our clinics at the Litfield Medical Centre in Clifton, Bristol, and the Vine Surgery in Street, Somerset, please visit this page.


The following information has kindly been provided by the British Homeopathic Organisation.

It’s more than just a placebo

Homeopathy has been used successfully on babies, young children and animals. In these cases, the patients have no idea what medication they are taking, so the placebo argument does not hold.

Homeopathy costs the NHS very little

The total amount spent on Homeopathy in the NHS is approximately £4 million per year, representing less than 1% of the total NHS budget. In contrast, the NHS spends £282 million annually on anti-depressants which one study suggests only benefit 11% of patients diagnosed with depression.

Homeopathy is more than a passing fad

Homeopathy has been used for over 200 years and has been available on the NHS since the health service was formed in 1948. It is an important part of the health systems in many European countries including France, Germany and Italy.

Homeopathy is safe

When used approximately the practice is extremely safe as it produces no dangerous side-effects and can be used in conjunction with conventional medicines. In comparison, the European Commission estimated in 2008 that adverse reactions to conventional drugs kill 197,000 EU citizens each year.

Many treatments have limited evidence

A clinical evidence surgery carried out by the British Medical Journal found that out of 3000 medical treatments 50% were classified as having “unknown effectiveness”.

In support of high dilutions

What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules. It’s no pseudoscience. It’s no quackery. These are real phenomena which deserve further study,” Professional Luc Montagnier, French virologist and Nobel Laureate speaking in 2010

For further information please visit the Faculty of Homeopathy website which provides a wide range of resources in support of complementary medicine and its scientific study.

Weekly Hot Nutrition Tip: Olive Oil

Olive oil is an exceptionally healthy oil.

olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is packed full of heart-healthy polyphenols and recent large-scale studies have shown that it can improve several biomarkers of health. Olive oil can also raise good cholesterol levels and lower damaging LDL cholesterol levels.

Don’t be concerned about cooking with it – the oil is resistant to heat up to moderately high temperatures, as long as you don’t keep re-heating it. It has a high monounsaturated fatty acid content which makes it one of the most heart-healthy oils available.

Keep your olive oil in a cool dark place to prevent it from reacting to the light and going rancid.

Do you want to learn more about the medicinal and wellbeing benefits of food such as olive oil? Sign up to our Food for Wellbeing course here!

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Friends for Wellbeing lecture this weekend

The Friends for Wellbeing public engagement series will launch this weekend.

The first lecture will be a talk from CEO to the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine and Holistic Doctor, Elizabeth Thompson, who will speak to the Friends about the benefits of Holistic Medicine and how it can provide sustainable complementary healthcare in 2017 and beyond.

Friends for Wellbeing

This is the first of a new public engagement lecture series called Friends for Wellbeing, due to take place on the first Saturday of the month, where you can meet other members of the PCIM team.

Come along to Clifton Central Library on Princess Victoria Street from 2pm to 3:30pm to hear about Holistic Medicine, and our work with local communities in Bristol. This event is free but PCIM is grateful for any donations to cover room hire and refreshments.

The Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine (PCIM) is a centre of excellence for sustainable healthcare based in Clifton, Bristol. We support the transformation of the health service in the UK, combining the best of conventional and complementary healthcare to deliver a holistic approach to Mindfulness and Wellbeing.

We are an employee-owned social enterprise, led by healthcare professionals, delivering the NHS contract for Homeopathy in Bristol alongside private and community based services. We also provide Integrative Medicine education, training, research and evaluation programmes for clinicians and practitioners.

Join the Friends of the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine – a group that volunteers time to support our endeavours at local events – by completing the form below.

Join the Friends of PCIM

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Weekly Hot Nutrition Tip: Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is not only one of the healthiest, but also one of the most delicious and versatile vegetables to include in your diet.

butternut squash

One portion of butternut squash provides high quantities of Vitamin A, which gives your immune system a real boost. It also contains 50% of your daily Vitamin C requirements.

This vegetable’s beautiful, bright orange colour means that it’s full of carotenoids – these are antioxidants which can reduce inflammation in your body, which is the cause of many chronic health conditions.

Some people get put off by butternut squash’s tough skin, but if you chop it up and add it to other vegetables, such as peppers, courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes, and slow roast it, you can eat the skin. Simply add olive oil and a few herbs and any other seasonings you enjoy.

If you want to peel it, try peeling with a potato peeler, or if you find this a struggle, simply cut it in two lengthwise and slow roast in the oven on a low/medium temperature for 45 minutes until the flesh is soft. You can then scoop it out and make it into soup, or mash with some olive oil as an alternative to mashed potato.

Do you want to learn more about the medicinal and wellbeing benefits of food such as butternut squash? Sign up to our Food for Wellbeing course here!

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PCIM Chief Executive: January 2017

These are exciting times for the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine coming into 2017.

We are delighted to be delivering a Mindfulness course for people who have struggled with recurrent depression. We are delivering this into the Greenway Centre led by Dr Julia Wallond, our Mindfulness Lead. With charitable funding from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre we are able to offer the course to participants at very low cost. We have been connecting to local healthcare professionals to let them know the course is happening.

We are also delivering the second in a year of pilot Mindfulness courses for cancer patients. We have been working with Penny Brohn UK to deliver this course and it has proved very popular. The idea behind the course has been to deliver in different settings at different times of day to try and meet the needs of the many cancer patients across Bristol. Delivering charitable services into areas where holistic approaches are needed is exactly what the Portland Centre is all about.

Join our Mindfulness mailing list to hear about upcoming courses.

We also have courses where people pay and we are launching a Food for Wellbeing six week course at Bakesmiths on the Whiteladies where along with practical tips on how to cook healthy meals, participants can also meet with Holistic Doctors, Psychologists and Nutritionists.

Follow Food for Wellbeing on Facebook.

With many of our courses we try and evaluate any improvements in wellbeing and linking new services with evaluation and research is an important part of our vision. We have had cutbacks to the NHS Homoeopathic Service that PCIM deliver but people can still be referred by healthcare professionals using a prior approval policy that is on our website. The NHS homoeopathic service has been around for nearly 70 years and we regard it as a precious part of all the difference holistic approaches that we connect to. The private homoeopathic clinics are growing and we have plans to deliver low-cost homoeopathy along with private clinics into Bath.

Don’t forget the Creative Writing for Wellbeing course run by Fiona Hamilton from the Orchard Foundation which have been hugely popular. The next course starts end of March.

Add our next Creative Writing for Wellbeing Course to your Facebook diary.

We would love to connect to people who are interested in whole person care and from 11th February 2017 on a Saturday afternoon at Clifton library we will be having the first of the Friends for Wellbeing public engagement lectures – do come along to these free events and contribute to the discussion. I will be talking about Integrative Medicine and how all of us can look after ourselves by connecting to natural approaches.

I hope in my next update to be telling you more about some of the new services we are planning to launch March and April. We are grateful to all of you who have become a Friend of the Portland Centre and those that follow us on Facebook and Twitter. I hope that you find ways to support your health and well-being during 2017.

Weekly Hot Nutrition Tip: Ginger

For those of you who are struggling with winter colds and flu, it’s a good idea to include ginger in your diet.


Not only is ginger a potent anti-oxidant which can support immune health, recent research has reported potential benefits of eating it with a number of chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease. In the study, daily consumption was strongly associated with a lower risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease.

It’s beautifully warming and tastes delicious when used in a hot lemon drink. Simply chop approx a centimetre cubed piece of root and steep in hot water for 5 mins. Add fresh lemon to taste.

Do you want to learn more about the medicinal and wellbeing benefits of food such as ginger? Sign up to our Food for Wellbeing course here!

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Weekly Hot Nutrition Tip: Garlic

If you’re trying to keep colds or the flu at bay, or even if symptoms have started, one of the best things you can include in your diet is garlic.


Studies have shown it can reduce cold symptoms and positively enhance the immune system. It’s also beneficial for heart health.

When crushed or chopped it releases allicin (the substance in garlic which contains the health properties). Israeli researchers have recently discovered that it is heat sensitive, but if prepared and left aside for 10 minutes the beneficial properties are preserved – even when cooked. Simply get into the habit of preparing garlic first when you are cooking with it before you prepare the other ingredients in a meal.

Aim for 1- 2 cloves a day.

Some people with sensitive digestions may find it doesn’t agree with them, so go gently if you are one of these people.

Do you want to learn more about the medicinal and wellbeing benefits of eating food such as garlic? Sign up to our Food for Wellbeing course here!

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PCIM Chief Executive: July 2016

Portland Centre portraits

The Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine continues to have a busy time setting up new services, which meet our vision to offer holistic care, to create choice in healthcare, and to deliver services across different communities.

We are delighted to have won an Oxford Mindfulness Accessibility fund which will allow us to deliver a Mindfulness course for people who have suffered with depression. We will be working directly with general practitioners, practice nurses, and the social prescribing coordinator for Southmead to let people know about the Mindfulness course delivered directly into the Greenway Centre. We have had a successful course delivered from Litfield Medical Centre to support people with stress and that course has drawn people from all different avenues with a range of problems in their life. The next Mindfulness course for stress reduction will be delivered in The Vassal Centre in Fishponds, again with the idea to try and deliver care in a range of places where people need them.

Add our next Mindfulness (MBSR) Course to your Facebook diary.

Following on from the very successful Creative Writing for Wellbeing course led by Fiona Hamilton, the arts in healthcare lead for the Portland Centre, we are delivering another course in Redland beginning in October, but are also working towards delivering a tailor made course for older people who mind find themselves isolated. We are again working with the Greenway Centre on this collaboration.

Add our next Creative Writing for Wellbeing Course to your Facebook diary.

We’re delighted that we’re still able to deliver the NHS Homeopathic service, which was transferred to us from its previous home in South Bristol Community Hospital. The Homeopathic service has been delivered within the NHS since the NHS began in 1948. You might want to join us at an Open Doors Day event on 10th September, where we will tell the story of the history of Homeopathy in Bristol from the late 18th Century.

Don’t forget that you can become a Friend for the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine to support this new and exciting organisation, and our Open Doors Day is the first in a new public engagement series where people can come to our venue in Clifton Village and find out more about a range of Holistic approaches. We have a taster session for the Creative Writing for later life coming up at Clifton Library, and would love to see as many of you as possible there.

Add our Open Doors Day event to your Facebook diary.

You may be interested to know that as well as delivering NHS Homeopathy, we also deliver a private Homeopathic clinic so that those people who cannot access NHS funding can still access high quality medical Homeopathy.

Over the course of the last 18 months, the Portland Centre has also been leading on the delivery of Kitchen on Prescription, of a vision of delivering a pan-Bristol Kitchen on Prescription service. In recent years, the idea of Doctors and nurses being able to prescribe activities rather than drugs has been gaining momentum within the health service. We would love Kitchen on Prescription to be available to healthcare practitioners, so that people can be prescribed a course of cooking from scratch with nutritional and psychological input. The money from Bristol Green Capital 2016 allowed us to run a number of pilots with existing community food educators, and to develop a network and a curriculum for those courses to be delivered in the future. We will keep you updated on the progress with this venture.

Finally, we are aware that many of you really want to access Holistic approaches within mainstream healthcare, so we are also working with healthcare professionals to deliver a new diploma in Integrative Medicine which will allow clinicians to learn more about how Holistic approaches might work in every day practice. If you are a healthcare professional interested to join the first wave of students in January 2017, please click here for more information.

– Dr Elizabeth Thompson, CEO of the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine