What information would you say is essential for women to understand about alopecia?

I think it’s important for people to note that alopecia is a general overarching term for hair loss and encompasses many conditions. Women specifically are complex humans in many ways and that includes in relation to hair. Ninety percent of my patients are female, and their hair loss cases are often far more convoluted than their male counterparts. In other words, there are often several factors that play a role in female hair loss. Women should try to look beyond the physical area of thinning, taking a holistic view of their health and lifestyle to pinpoint triggers behind the hair loss.

Secondly, paying close attention to and understanding your hair and health can really help women identify changes in their hair. There are some instances where women may wear their hair in protective styles regularly and although this is generally fine, problems are more easily identified when you handle your hair regularly. With more consistent handling of the hair you learn to better understand how it behaves i.e. when it requires moisture, a trim or a shampoo. Without seeing or handling your hair regularly, you can sometimes miss slight changes that could be addressed early on.

Lastly, don’t wait! If you suspect something isn’t quite right visit your GP or a specialist for a second opinion. There are so many instances of hair loss that go unchecked until the very final stages of the condition. It is far easier to mitigate against the spread of hair loss than to regrow hair.

What are the actions we can do to help prevent/reverse alopecia where possible?

While there certainly isn’t a magic potion or one fix for all, there are some types of hair loss that can be prevented with better handling. Traction alopecia for example, can be avoided by being kinder to your scalp when detangling and styling. Temporary hair loss associated with stress and nutrition can be mitigated against by having a good understanding of your body and its changes. Knowledge of self is sometimes key to identifying changes and combating alopecia. 

However, in certain instances, such as in hair loss associated with health, you are likely to require more in-depth conversations, tests, and treatments beyond what you can do from home. Treatments for alopecia will vary based on individual circumstances but factors that specialists will take into consideration include the cause, length of time, extent of hair loss, progression, allergies and any other underlying conditions or medications among other things.

There are many products on the market that promise to aid those with hair loss. Are there any you would recommend?

There are very few products that are proven to support new growth and buyers should be wary of hair growth oils and the like however, it makes sense to look at the ingredients of a product to help determine whether it may stimulate hair growth. There are studies that have implicated the use of ingredients like caffeine to help stimulate growth. Generally speaking, when choosing products look for ingredients that stimulate the follicles by increasing blood circulation which draws oxygen and nutrients to the scalp. More importantly, always conduct your own due diligence and ask for studies and trials that support any enthusiastic claims. Regaine is the only commercially available product FDA proven to grow hair and this is only under certain circumstances. 

Interview with Smart Hair Clinic Consultant Trichologist  Nicola Smart

Our Immunity

Our Immunity


At this time everyone has questions, comments and concerns about their health and appreciate the importance of an optimum immune system.  To help, a better understanding of the body and the function of the immune system is needed.

The immune system is made up of organs and processes that enable the body to fight infections and toxins; which are rid from the body through the lymphatic system.  Organs in the immune and lymphatic system include the thymus, bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes.

The immune system uses white blood cells to fight infections.  Certain types of white blood cells are called phagocytes which consume invading organisms and infections to the body. Lymphocytes are another type of white blood cell, which is used to remember the bacteria (pathogen) and how to destroy it.

There are two kinds of lymphocytes – B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes.  Lymphocytes originate in the bone marrow.  The B lymphocytes stay in the marrow and mature into B cells.  The T lymphocytes move to the thymus gland from the marrow and mature into T cells. B lymphocytes are used to identify destructive organisms which the T cells will then be used to kill destroy.

B lymphocytes are triggered to make antibodies which latch onto specific bacteria. The antibodies stay in a person’s body and remain there so if the same infection were to reoccur the antibodies would be able to recognise it and act accordingly.

The lymphatic system produces and transports the white blood cells which contain the antibodies that protect the body.  Any cancerous, dead and damaged cells are removed from the blood stream by the lymphatic system.

As a result, any immune and lymphatic system weaknesses will lead to numerous diseases some of which could be fatal.


Give your immune system a helping hand

Minerals and vitamins are very important to ensure we care for immune system; for this we can seek natural foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables that contain these much needed nutrients.

Vitamins: A, C, D, and E.

Minerals: Iron, Selenium, Magnesium and Zinc


Good foods

Berries – Elderberries, used to help unclog mucus membranes and it’s antiviral, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Leafy Greens – Both kale and spinach are full of antioxidants and promote the production of white blood cells.  They’re rich in vitamin C, and a great source of folate, vitamin A, fiber, magnesium, and iron. Eaten as close to raw helps keep the nutrients live and most effective.

Green Tea – Used for centuries has been used for antiviral properties. Rich in antioxidants that fight infections.  Antioxidant EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) is a powerful compounds in green tea which helps prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.

Another component of green tea, L-theanine, which aids the production of T lymphocyte white cells, known to improve immune responses to infections.

The Spice – Cayenne pepper is packed with antioxidants including beta carotene, Vitamin A and C, which help to remove free radicals that can cause harm to the body.  Used by many to kick start the circulatory system as we suffer from colds and flu throughout the year.

The Mineral BoostSea Moss is an algae that contains 92 of the 102 minerals needed by our bodies.  It also provides amino acids, vitamin C, antioxidants, as well as antiviral and antimicrobial compounds to fight infections.  It is rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium iodide which is used to clear airways from phlegm.  Because of it’s consistency it is known to smoothly line the respiratory and gut lining.

Once prepared Sea Moss can be easily added to juices and smoothies.



To exercise and train the body is essential for everyday health.  Physical activity can help people exercise the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.  Lungs and airways expel toxins which could if left to linger, increase the chances of colds and flu like symptoms.

The effects of exercise on the immune system would also include the increase of white blood cells circulating, which could aid in the body’s effectiveness to cleans itself of toxins.

Exercise can help control body weight and reduce stress levels by regulating hormones secretion throughout the body.  In addition, the sweating caused by exercise will ensure toxins are eliminated by the body through the skin.

Completing 30-45mins exercise most days in the week is recommended.  This could include brisk walks, jogs and/or sporting activities.


**This page will be updated regularly with additional information.**



Our Food


When All Nations opened Dec 2017 in Hackney were people surprised to see a rich Caribbean menu which is vegan?

Yes.  Sometimes people come in and are surprised in the variety of vegan dishes.  People think they  have less choice in vegan food.  I want to show them we have a lot of choice and you can also have the healthy options that are substantial.   A lot of vegan foods now are processed, so I wanted to stick to the natural ingredients.  I use most of the ingredients I grew up on and keep it simple.  People  taste the difference between processed and natural ingredients but people are surprised to see you can keep a dish simple but still have a lot of flavours with the right herbs.


As a partner and mother of 7 children how did you manage to satisfy your family on vegan food.

Six of my boys were born into a vegan diet, and they do not crave anything else.  The eldest son was different.  He knows the taste of meat and I tried to turn this taste into something that compliment the dishes that I do.  Many times it is just seasoning the food right that makes it work. Sometimes people think they like the taste of the meat but really they just like how the meat I seasoned.  So if you season the vegan food well that works too.

In recent years vegan cooking has become popular.  But traditionally our dishes and diets were vegetable based.  So why do so many of us struggle to be vegan now.

People need a motivation and a reason to do things.  Now people eat so much meat that we need a reason to give the food a chance.  For some people once you say ‘vegan’ they turn their mind off it because they are used to eating in one way.

A lot of us grew up around meat.  But meat farming 50years ago was completely different to today.  How they process and prepare meat now is scary.  So now we have all these illnesses and people do not know which way to turn.    But people fear cutting out the meat.

But if they can open their mind and see it is a healthier option that can satisfy them then they would not struggle so much.

Personally, I decided to change my diet years ago when I had fibroids.  I have felt so much better since, I have had more energy and I can honestly say that living a vegan lifestyle had a positive affect on my life. 

What advice would you give people who do not know where to start on a vegan journey.

Being vegan you start to get used to the taste of food being different.  For juicing people can add Agave syrup.  But also a cleanse is good to help balance their palate then the raw food and juicing becomes the norm.  Have a cleanse to then build on a strong foundation.

Try a vegan meal in the week.  Try slowly to give it a space in your life.

At All Nations my ackee and mushroom dish is very popular.  When people get a the taste of the ackee they are surprised to not to miss the saltfish, and still get the taste they are looking for.

The diet of the black community is struggling due to western influence.  The people back home compared to here eat differently. 

It is a simple concept we are what we eat.  Sometimes we take that statement lightly but it is a simple fact.  Whatever you put in you will get the result of that, and sometimes when I look around I honestly see our people are being made sick on out diet, and have fear of not knowing how to try anything different.

Atreka – All Nations Vegan House

8 Sandringham Rd, Dalston, London E8 2LP

020 7254 0023

The chemicals in our hair care

The chemicals in our hair care

Interview with Tola Okogwu

For many women product ingredients are not a huge concern when looking for products. Why should this change?

I think we take for granted that the products we use regularly on our hair are safe but there are so many studies out there that suggest otherwise. When you want to lose weight, you know to check the ingredient on your food for anything unhealthy and we need to be more like that with our personal care products. 

In April 2018 I appeared in a BBC interview about a new study that showed that Black women are exposed to dozens of potentially hazardous chemicals through the hair products they use. Chemicals linked to hormone disruption, fibroids, asthma, infertility and even cancer.  There are a few studies, which have looked at the relationship between hair products and several health issues. This includes a study published in 2017 by researchers at Rutgers University, which found a link between breast cancer and the use of hair dyes and hair relaxers in Black women. Also a 2012 a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found that the use of relaxers in Black women is associated with fibroids.

Black women are over exposed yet inadequately protected when it comes to hair care products. Over use of braids, weaves and extensions, coupled with bad hair care practices have led to an over-reliance on products. Add in the cultural, historical and societal pressures Black women face when it comes to their hair and the problem is further exacerbated.  In addition, the way Black women use products is unique. Products are used frequently, generously and can be left on for weeks or even months, with continuous reapplication in between. However, there is very little research being done into the cumulative effects and potential risks associated with this method of product use.

The most recent study, conducted in April 2018 by the Silent Spring Institute, showed that 80% of Black hair products tested contain endocrine disrupting and asthma causing chemicals. Read More

Our women’s wellbeing for pregnancy and beyond


Our women’s wellbeing for pregnancy and beyond

Interview with Leah Salmon founder of Naturally You Coach


Leah Salmon is a home educating mother, wife, author, speaker, nutritionist, life coach & live blood analyst.  Working in the community for many years Leah has helped empower black women to improve their wellbeing.


As part of your consultancy you do Live Blood Analysis.  What does that entail?

To do this I take blood from the finger, place it on a slide and put under the microscope and project it onto the screen.  I show you round what I can see in your blood which is magnified 1000 times.  So I am able to see the white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma and the platelets.  From the shape, size and positioning of the cells we can see indications of different things to do with your health.

It’s like a reflection of your health.

The process is not meant to treat, cure or diagnose anything, and the Advertising Standards Agency makes sure we don’t ever make that claim.  But it does give us a very clear indication of what is going on in the person’s body so that does help in giving dietary recommendations as well.  It’s very interesting.


You have worked to help women improve their health for many years.  How and why did you start this journey?

When I was 11years old I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian.  My mum obliged as long as I was getting enough protein.  So in everybody’s estimation if you are a young growing girl you need to get a source of protein, and the only way was through soya.  So I was led down the path of eating soya at least 3 times a day.  I had soya milk, soya cheese, soya burgers, even soya bacon.  Literally, soya everything.  In the midst of eating insane amounts of soya I also very rarely ate fresh fruits and vegetables.  I rarely made meals from scratch.  Like me making a meal  would be like boiling pasta and putting cheese on top and a soya sausage.  That was the extent of my culinary skills, so I was what I called a junk food vegetarian.  So as long as there wasn’t any meat, poultry or fish in it then I ate it.  I wasn’t vegan.

So I had pizza and spicy bean burgers from the take away.  By the time I was 17 I developed a menstrual condition called Metrorrhagia where I would bleed between my periods.  So I would have my regular period and 2 weeks later I had another period.  And this lasted for about 2 years and came with all the other symptoms of PMS.  I had the extreme pain, heaviness, clots, the skin eruptions, food cravings and the emotional instabilities.  But when I was 17years old this Metrorrhagia developed as well and this lasted until I was about 19years old.  And I kept it that long because I did not want to tell anyone about it.  I found it very embarrassing to have those problems.  I thought I was being punished and I did not link it to the food I was eating as I was under the presumption (and a lot of the clients I work with are under the same impression) that to be vegan/vegetarian then I am healthy and there is no way my food can impact my health. Read More

The Yoni Steam



The Yoni Steam

Interview with Emma Etaka Ako founder of Mama Luna


What is the origin of vaginal steaming and cleansing and where is it popular today?
Womb steaming takes place all over the world but has origins in South Africa.  It is most popular in rural areas in Africa in rural areas in Nigeria, Bakino Faso and Ghana.

In northern Africa it is also practised in places namely Morocco. As well as Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan.

Yoni steaming is practiced in rural areas for post pregnancy wellbeing.  Usually there is a 40day ritual to help get the body back to full health and yoni steaming is used for this.

Outside of the continent yoni steaming is popular in Korea and in Thailand where it’s called Chai-yok

In India steaming is practised in the Ganges region and it is here the practice is called Yoni steaming. Yoni means temple or sacred gateway.  And in Europe the practice of yoni steaming in most popular in Poland.

Womb steaming is most commonly used from puberty in Central South America in countries such as Peru where it is called Bajos.  But the western society is still just coming on board with steaming.


What made you start learning about yoni steaming?
Well, I have always been into natural health.

In my early to mid-twenties I explored in my curiosity towards natural health and I was really interested in women’s empowerment.

Read More

The V Spot

The V Spot

Interview with Dr Rhoda Molife


Do you find that black women are comfortable speaking about their vaginas?

Generally, we’re not. You know in our culture anything to do with our sexuality is generally not for discussion. But here’s the good news – it is probably more to do with the generation we’re from – so our mothers and grandmothers didn’t talk to us about our vaginas, though I bet amongst themselves they probably did. And I think our generation and those younger  – in their 20s and 30s –  are more comfortable having these conversations and are more open about anything to do with our sexuality, especially when we’re together. What we may not talk so much about is vaginal health. I don’t think this is limited to black women…women period don’t talk so much about vaginal health.

What are the common issues you find are prevalent to black women when it comes to vaginal health?

You know I think the main issue is still about vaginal cleanliness. Should we use soap or douches to wash our vaginas? By now, we should know that we shouldn’t but there are still pockets of us that think that we need to scrub with all sorts to ‘keep clean’, not realising what a wonderful and smart mechanism the vagina has to keep itself clean and healthy and that all we need is water and a mild soap for the vulval (outer) area.

Read More


Interview with Philip Udeh


Do you think Sickle cell is misunderstood by the Black community?

Yes. Definitely.  Many people do not know what is but they ‘know’ that it’s bad.  They don’t know the mechanism of sickle cell.

There is a misconception about it, and sickle cell has a bad stigma attached to it.  There is a spiritual thing associated to it; like a curse. If you ask if someone has it in the family they will say ‘No!’ with pride!

It has become spiritually negative.  Really sickle cell is a genetic disorder and if we knew about it we can mitigate sickle cell.  Even if a person has it they can improve their quality of life.  To be honest even people with sickle cell do not understand it.  They know how the disorder makes it hard for oxygen to get around the body but they do not know how to improve their quality of life.  Many take morphine which is an addictive drug with negative effects on the body, altering the persons receptors of pain.

This is the reason why I previously launched Sickle Success to educate the community.  Education is essential and it is important for everybody to see the correlation between a healthy lifestyle and how they function.  As Africans we are not functional because of our lifestyle, and people with sickle cell can’t afford to have a poor lifestyle.

Read More

Raw Food


Derin Bepo of HealthRestore interviewed by Bidii – June 2017



What does a raw lifestyle mean to someone like yourself?

The raw lifestyle is life. It’s the reality of life!

We have a concept of nutrition provided by a cultural perspective, and a very dominant commercial perspective.

Raw lifestyle is understanding that we should be eating food that is not processed in any way.  Most people have an understanding  that we wake up in the morning and have a breakfast cereal.  But who laid down the law that you do that?    Really people have not thought about it.  They put sugar and milk on on their cereal.   But who made this rule? It’s really a commercially driven manipulation.  So raw lifestyle is cutting through ideas by looking at reality and what the body actually needs.

If you don’t give the body enough foods from the fruit kingdom and vegetable kingdom, nuts and seeds they will have serious health problems.


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Our Hair

Firstly it is important to state that to have good hair means to care and condition the hair correctly, therefore it is completely possible for black women to have great natural hair free from chemicals.

Hair growth like all other bodily functions is affected by our lifestyle. Diet and stress play a great role in the health and vitality of our mane. The hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body after bone marrow, and it is made up almost completely of protein.

As Black people our hair is different. We are the only people to have 9 Ether hair growing up towards the sun. Many western writers speak of hair having no function other than to grow long and keep humans warm but since our hair grows up then surely our hair must have another purpose.

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