London health guide

New Year's resolutions are one thing, but we've gone one better to round up the best places in London for a variety of health testing and therapies from acupuncture to Alexander technique, Pilates to podiatry

  • Head


    The Brain

    Mental Illness

    Worried about your mental health? Checking in with your GP should be your first step, but it might also help to chat to a support organisation like Rethink, or the Samaritans. Rethink is a mental health charity providing information, advice and support services to 48,000 people every year (and campaigning for a better quality of life for people with mental illness and their carers). A quarter of us have a mental health problem sometime in our lives, with disorders taking many different forms and affecting people in various ways.0845 456 0455/www.rethink.org 08457 90 90 90/www.samaritans.org
    Hypnotherapy

    Marisa Peer

    Combining hypnotherapy and psychotherapy, Marisa Peer is used to achieving life-changing results for her clients. Peer’s individual sessions last 90 minutes and include an in-depth discussion regarding why you are there, followed by an intensive hynotherapy session. Peer specialises in helping people with eating disorders from obesity to anorexia – she has authored a highly regarded book, ‘You Will be Thin’ – but she can help you tackle anything from phobias to giving up smoking. Her sessions are expensive but, in our experience, worth every penny.For appointments call Delia (07738 707 262/www.marisapeer.com). Ninety-minute sessions are usually £320, plus VAT but Time Out readers will receive one for the discounted price of £295 (quote Time Out).
    General Hypnotherapy Register (01590 683770/www.general-hypnotherapy-register.com)

    Phobias
    The five most common phobias are claustrophobia, the fear of being in an enclosed space; agoraphobia, less a fear of open spaces but often a complex set of phobias such as the fear of being alone; acrophobia, the fear of heights; arachnophobia, the fear of spiders; and aerophobia, the fear of flying. Slightly less common is chorophobia, the intense fear of dancing. Often accompanied by intense anxiety, phobias can develop into a debilitating condition which seriously affects quality of life. There are many ways to treat a phobia, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, hypnotherapy, graduated exposure therapy and drug treatments.
    For general help and support, contact phobia charity Anxiety UK (08444 775 774/www.anxietyuk.org.uk ).
    For a list of regional psychotherapists: British Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapies (0161 797 4484/www.babcp.com) or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (0870 443 5252/www.bacp.co.uk).


    Eyes


    Finding a good opticians is as vital as having a good doctor or dentist. If you’d rather avoid busy high-street chains, seek out a good independently run local where you are likely to get a more personal service.

    Better Specs
    This well-established Kentish Town optician shop is known for thorough eye tests and good customer service. Providing an excellent range of frames, from Diesel to Prada, the manager will also match internet prices on contact lenses.
    210 Kentish Town Rd, NW5 (7482 3859). Kentish Town rail. 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm Sat.

    Nigel Burnett Hodd
    Mr Hodd is a contact-lens specialist using state-of-the-art eye care, offering the very latest equipment is used to check your eye health. His practice also dispenses specs.
    7 Devonshire Street, W1W 5DY (7636 2444/www.nfburnetthodd.com). Great Portland St tube. 8.30am-5.30pm Mon, Wed-Fri; Tue till 6pm.

    P Shah Opticians
    The optician of choice for Moorfields eye hospital, Shah runs a small shop, offering a personalised service.
    152 City Rd, EC1G 2NP (7253 1309). Old St tube/rail. 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.

    Teeth


    Dentists

    Finding a NHS dentist

    Unless you meet the exemption criteria (typically under-18s, pregnant women, those on income support) you will need to contribute towards dental care. However, National Health Treatment helps pay for procedures, and you can find your nearest NHS dentist taking on new patients at www.nhs.uk/england/dentists.The following are still accepting new NHS patients:E N Chater, 305 Borough High St, SE1 1JH (7407 3883). Borough tube. 8am-3pm Mon-Fri.Earl’s Court Dental Practice,121 Earl’s Court Rd, SW5 9RL (7373 4846/www.earlscourtdentist.co.uk). Earl’s Court tube. 9am-1pm, 2-6pm Mon-Fri; Sat: call for availability.Petrie Tucker & Partners, 344 Old St, EC1 9DS (7739 9545). Old St tube/rail. 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri.Soho Centre for Health and Care, Second floor, 1 Frith St, W1D 3HZ (7534 6622). Tottenham Court Rd tube. 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.These clinics have been recommended for their NHS service:Cambridge Park Dental PracticeFriendly, very clean and an excellent level of treatment with pricing options clearly discussed.19 Cambridge Park, E11 2PU (8532 9990). Wanstead tube. 9am-5.30 Tues only for NHS patients.

    Camden Dental Centre
    Good, professional and very friendly.77 Camden High St, NW1 7JL (7380 0768). Camden Town tube. 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-2pm Sat.
    Dulwich Dental Clinic
    In-demand National Health Service dentist which also does private cosmetic work, Swedish cleaning, and cosmetic teeth-straightening.78 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HF (020 8299 1334). East Dulwich rail. 9am-7pm Mon-Thur, 9am-6pm Fri, 10am-4pm Sat.Kennington Dental SurgerySurroundings are cramped (it’s in an old terraced house), but this is a perfectly charming practice.234 Kennington Park Rd, SE1 4DA (7735 4579). Oval tube. 9am-5pm Mon-Thur, 9am-1pm Fri.Shaftsbury Dental CareRecommended by two Time Out staffers for its ‘consistently good’ NHS treatment.158 Kentish Town Rd, NW5 2AG (7485 3711). Kentish Town tube. 9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat.

    Body


    Whole body health screening
    This can diagnose existing conditions but also helps medical practitioners evaluate risk factors and develop a preventive strategy. At Preventicum in Shepherd’s Bush, radiation-free MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans provide immensely detailed images of the heart, blood vessels and brain. Not cheap (from £675 to £3,400 depending on whether MRI scans are included), but very reassuring.Preventicum UK (7605 6900/www.preventicum.co.uk).

    Back

    Alexander TechniqueAT teaches us to recognise, then eliminate, the unnecessary tension we carry in our bodies. Many back pain sufferers find a course of lessons very beneficial in improving their posture and all-round body awareness.Brita Forsstrom (7833 4854/www.alexandertechniquecity.co.uk).
    Michelle Cole (8690 0801/www.gooduse.com).
    Kieser TrainingFar from being damaging or dangerous, controlled strength training can actually be good for people with back conditions. At Camden’s Kieser Training centre, specialised medical strengthening equipment gives an accurate diagnosis of physical function as well as targeted treatment.Kieser Training (7391 9980/www.kieser-training.com).Rehabilitation PilatesThe Pilates taught in health clubs can be bad for back pain sufferers, since some exercises place large loads on the lumbar and cervical spine. In contrast, Modified Pilates, developed by the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute and taught at Pilates Art in Hampstead, is designed to retrain the deep muscles that are vital in stabilising the spine and rehabilitating lower back pain.Pilates Art (7794 6560/ www.pilatesart.com).Angel ChiropractorsFriendly, effective and crucially the practitioners here don't try to make you go for lots of sessions. You can just have the initial examination and pop back whenever you need to.18 St Alban's Place, Upper Street, N1 0NX (7288 2999/www.angelchiropractic.co.uk). Angel tube. 8am-7.30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat.The British school of Osteopathy Affordable osteopathic treatment combined with the highest standards of patient care. Clinics are staffed by experienced osteopaths and supervised students.98-118 Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 0BQ (020 7089 5360/www.bso.ac.uk). Borough tube. 8am-6.30pm Mon-Fri.West End PhysiotherapyConvenient for those working in this part of London, the staff here are helpful and friendly. An ergonomic assessment is carried out before treatment is given. Sympathetic, up-to-date and great with sports injuries according to our tester. 191 Wardour Street, London W1F 8ZE (7734 6263/www.wephysio.co.uk). Oxford Circus tube. Physio, £45 for half an hour. 8am-7pm Mon, Wed, Fri; 8am-8pm Tue, Thur; 9am-1pm Sat.

    Skin

    The Mole ClinicLocated a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus tube, this friendly and efficient clinic specialises in just moles. According to Cancer Research UK, melanoma rates have risen faster than any other form of cancer in the UK over the past 25 years so it’s well worth a visit. You can have a single mole checked or a full top-to-toe check of all the moles on your body. The clinic has spotted cases of melanoma that GPs have missed.The Mole Clinic, 9 Argyll St, W1F 7TG (7734 1177/www.themoleclinic.co.uk). Oxford Circus tube. 8am-5pm Mon-Wed, 10am-7pm Thur, 8am-5pm Fri.Holistic facialLocated above the hubbub of Camden Stables is the oasis of calm and tranquillity that is Alchemy, a centre providing yoga, meditation and holistic therapies to stressed out Londoners. One of its key beauty treatments is the Holistic facial (from £65) which invigorates the skin through a deep face, neck, shoulder and scalp massage. Ask for resident holistic therapist Rekha Gopal, who has a special firm but gentle touch. As our researcher can testify, Gopal’s soothing facials help alleviate tension headaches and leaves your skin looking nourished and moisturised. Unit 101, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH (7267 6188/www.alchemythecentre.com). Camden tube. 8.30am-9pm Mon-Fri; 10am-6pm Sat, Sun.John Tsagaris The exuberant John Tsagaris has studied both Eastern and Western medicine and combines the two with his unique and intensive therapies. One of his specialisms is facial acupuncture which stimulates skin regeneration, removes toxins and according to Tsagaris helps prevent the formation of wrinkles. His model clientele swear by it.26 Wheatley St, WlG 8PS (0871 9030 0000/www.energybodies.co.uk). Bond St tube. 11am-6pm Mon-Sat.

    Sexual Health

    If you suspect that all’s not well ‘down there’, call NHS Direct’s 24-hour Sexual Healthline (0800 567 123/ www.playingsafely.co.uk), which is free and confidential. Advisors can give details of your nearest NHS Genito-Urinary Clinic which can provide free info, testing and treatment, and counselling and advice on HIV and other STDs. Sexwise (0800 282930), for frisky teens (18 and under), can advise confidentially on sex, pregnancy, contraception and relationships. The Terrence Higgins trust (0845 122 1200/www.tht.org.uk) can advise on sexual health, particularly HIV, with a support line and drop-in centres in Waterloo, Peckham and Notting Hill. It can also let you know about clinics which offer 60-second HIV tests and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis): a 28-day course of medication if you think you’ve been at risk from HIV in the past 72 hours.

    Fertility

    Frances Newman, acupunctureFrances Newman is a serene and calming acupuncturist who works from her home in Bow. With more than 28 years practising as an experienced acupuncturist, Newman treats everything from asthma to headaches and depression with an impressive track record of helping women overcome fertility problems – many of her clients have gone on to have healthy and happy pregnancies. Newman also incorporates massage and healing into treatments which makes it extra special. Initial 90-minute session, £65, follow-up one-hour sessions, £50. Frances Newman (8980 0219).Gerad KiteEsteemed acupuncturist Gerad Kite has been practising acupuncture for more than two decades with a reputation for helping with fertility issues and stress.The Kite Clinic, 73 New Bond St, W1S 1RS (7408 0341/www.kiteclinic.co.uk). Bond St tube.British Acupuncture Council (8735 0400/www.acupuncture.org.uk)Pregnancy YogaYoga is a wonderful way of exercising during pregnancy and you’d struggle to find a better class than at Triyoga, one of London’s best-established and most reputable yoga spots. Try Nadia Narain’s hour-and-a-half-long classes on Thursdays and Saturdays, which combine gentle but powerful yoga poses, relaxation techniques and an opportunity to sing and dance with your unborn child. A wonderful chance to feel not only more bonded with your baby but supple and prepared for birth.6 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London NW3 3AJ (7483 3344/www.triyoga.co.uk). Chalk Farm tube. Pregnancy yoga with Nadia Narain is at 11.45am-1.15pm Thur and 12.45pm-2.15pm Sat.

    Feet

    Posh PodiatryMargaret Dabbs, the foot tsar of London, has opened a new HQ in Marylebone where her fleet of white-coat-wearing therapists can scrape, buff and polish the capital’s most problematic feet. Known for her intensive medical pedicure, the new clinic offers treatments that include ‘The Ultimate Luxury Foot Therapy’, reflexology and an oxygen capsule to revitalize from top to, um, toe. Margaret Dabbs Foot Clinic and Nail Spa, 7 New Cavendish St, W1G 8UU (7487 5510/www.margaretdabbs.com). Bond St tube. 9am-6.30pm Mon-Sat, noon-6pm Sun.
    Reflexology

    Rosanna Bickerton

    Specialising in Chinese reflexology, Rosanna Bickerton helps treat and number of health problems including high blood pressure, insomnia, sinus problems and poor circulation. She’s also had impressive results working on babies and children. A session with Bickerton leaves you feeling soothed and raring to go.Bickerton works from two locations; The Lansdowne Club in W1 and Brompton Cross Clinic in SW3 (020 8769 9709/www.handsonfeet.com).
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