Aconite, gelsemiun, ignatia… just a few things you might want to have handy when Andy Murray steps out at Wimbledon this week. For these homeopathic remedies can be helpful if, in respective order, you're feeling anxious and fearful, suffering pre-match nerves in the stands at Centre Court or, worse still, concerned that you might be grief-stricken when the umpire calls game, set and match.
You won't be alone in relying on homeopathic help; in the commentary box, former England women's number one Annabel Croft, now a TV presenter and mother of three, will be reaching for a cocktail of remedies to see her through the tournament. Annabel, who is reporting from Wimbledon for BBC Radio 5 Live and GMTV, has been taking homeopathic medicine in advance of the competition to prepare for whatever comes her way this week.
But her first encounter with homeopathy – a form of complementary treatment based on the premise that tiny quantities of certain substances can stimulate the body's natural forces of recovery – came in rather more dramatic circumstances.
In 2003, Annabel, now 42, began suffering throbbing pains on her lower left-hand side. The pain was sometimes so intense that, on several occasions, it caused her to faint. At one point, her daughter Amber, now 15, was so frightened she was on the verge of calling an ambulance.
After referral from a GP, an ultrasound scan from a private doctor showed that Annabel had developed a cyst on her left ovary. While ovarian cysts – fluid-filled sacs – are common and usually painless, if they swell, they can cause acute pain and may need to be removed. Annabel's pain was "unbearable", she says, and her GP thought she would need an operation.