Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Last month I wrote about the possibility that vitamin K might help post-menopausal bleeding. Today I found out the person who inspired that article has adenocarcinoma of the uterus. It seems to still be in the early stages, and more tests will be done pronto to determine the best course of action.
I'm all for remedies, but this really shook me up - not that I missed the serious underlying cause, I had no clue - but that her doctors didn't move more swiftly to check out this possibility. I just can't imagine them not knowing.
So today's article isn't about a remedy, it's to alert anyone who read my earlier post or anyone else who might be helped by knowing that:
"The most frequent symptom of cancer of the uterus is abnormal bleeding. In postmenopausal women any bleeding is considered cancer of the uterus until proven not to be." [source]
Please read this article about adenocarcinoma, which gives a good basic description of it, along with information about stages and statistics for prognosis.
Remedies are great, but only if you have the correct diagnosis to begin with, and if the remedy is safe and applicable to the given condition. Once you have ruled out the more serious possibilities (and you're sure your doctors have, too!) consider remedies as a choice for enhancing your quality of life.
It may be a few days before I post again...
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Great remedy for memory loss, short temper, boredom.
When you don't get enough sleep, your brain just doesn't work as well as it does after sufficient rest. Insufficient sleep is one of the reasons older folks suffer memory loss. And sufficient REM sleep is essential for good mental health. Go without for long enough, and age doesn't matter, it shows! For babies and toddlers, who need more sleep, one late or missed nap time is apparent to everyone in hearing distance!
So what can you do to ensure better sleep? Start with good pre-sleep habits. No caffeine before bedtime - have a glass of warm milk instead. Or a warm bath for about 20 minutes. Adding a cup or so of epsom salts helps relax your muscles even more. Refrain from exercise a couple of hours before bedtime. Even yoga can be stimulating.
Many people will wake up at the same time every day regardless of going to sleep late the night before. So it's important to start winding down in time to actually go to sleep at the desired hour.
If you don't like warm milk, or perhaps don't drink milk at all, take calcium tablets at bedtime or shortly before. Half the RDI - or about 400 mg of quality calcium such as calcium citrate which is readily absorbable.
Exercising earlier in the day can also help. A good workout - a walk, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, or whatever you enjoy - followed by at least two hours before you go to sleep, can really help you wind down when it's time.
Entrain yourself to go to sleep to a particular music CD - mix your own if you like. Perhaps start with something a little livelier, and song by song, slow down the pace of the music till it's lulling you to sleep. Repeating the same music, entrainment, sets up an association between the music and sleepiness.
To start with, only play the CD when you feel very sleepy at bedtime. It doesn't matter if you fall asleep while listening. Actually, that's the point! Then, when you've got the music and sleep well associated, you'll start feeling sleepy when you hear the music!
Some other sleep remedies: melatonin, hops (herb tea or herbs in pillow), lavender (aromatherapy, herbs in pillow, herb spray on pillow or bedding), chamomile and other soothing herbs, homeopathic remedies, and abdominal breathing (chest breathing is stimulating.)
Light and sound can affect your ability to sleep well, too. Try a sleep mask to block out light, ear plugs and/or a white noise machine to block out distracting sounds.
If worries keep you awake, or from going back to sleep, try this acupressure tip: put your hands on your knees, thumbs on the inner side of your leg, an inch or so above the knee. With moderate pressure, explore until you find a rather sensitive or sore spot. Once you find the spots (one on each leg) rub them with moderate pressure for two or three minutes. This helps break the worry cycle.
A skipped night every now and then isn't so noticeable, but make a habit of not getting enough sleep, and you build up sleep debt that, contrary to popular belief, isn't fixed with a single night's good sleep.
And boredom. Well, the reason I mentioned that is sometimes I feel really bored, but at the same time, I really don't feel like doing anything. I finally realized that combo indicates I'm actually tired. I may want or be able to sleep right away, but at least I understand why I'm having these feelings simultaneously. If it isn't a good time for sleep, I'll try some fairly brainless activity like watching TV.
I'll nap if I just can't stay awake. But napping can come back to bite you when you try to go to sleep that night. So I don't unless I really have to. Your sleep and napping habits may differ. Some people swear by naps. Perhaps they're able to take shorter ones. Mine tend to be a couple hours, and that usually interferes with normal sleep later.
One final tip, eating carbs before bed helps you sleep by boosting serotonin. Bake a potato, quarter it, and eat a piece before bedtime. (Put the rest away for other nights.) Even an eighth of a potato may be enough to help you get drowsy. Now brush your teeth and hop in bed! Good night and sweet dreams!
Articles about sleep and memory:
Sleep Boosts Memory - article on Psychology Today's website.
Just Sleep on It! - Neuroscience for Kids' article on sleep and memory.
Memory Consolidation and REM Sleep - article discussing sleep studies and theories about REM sleep.
Order items to help you sleep:
Posted by Randi at 9:56 PM
Friday, February 20, 2009
A natural way to counteract toxins you absorb from air, water, and food.
I live in Florida, and we're having a burn ban - bad drought conditions, it's our dry season, and several winter freezes added to the dry brush available for kindling. One little spark and there goes the neighborhood.
In my county alone, we had one 40-acre brush fire on Tuesday, and eight 1-3 acre brush fires on Wednesday. With winds gusting to 15 mph, and me surrounded by brush and woodlands, I get kinda skittish. So I happened to mention the fire conditions to one of my daughters, starting with my having to report my next door neighbor for burning illegally today.
When I mentioned to my daughter - yes, I'm getting to the point and yes, there is one - that my neighbors throw plastic in their fires, even though they know (because I told them and showed them the county regulations) they're not supposed to.
My daughter was suitably concerned about the general fire/drought conditions, and even more about the neighbor's disregard for the safety and property of others. Most of all, though, she was concerned about the health hazards of the stuff they're burning.
I had no idea how toxic the fumes and ash from burning plastic and other materials were, or how polluting they were; I only knew how bad the stuff smelled when it burned.
She sent me two articles on this subject, and a link to products that can help clear your body of such toxins. (See links and ordering info below.) Suffice it to say, I'm really glad I mentioned the neighbor's activities to her, and that she knew so much about the subject of trash burning by homeowners in rural areas.
"A family of four burning trash in a barrel in their backyard - still a common practice in many rural areas - can potentially put as much dioxin and furan into the air as a well-controlled municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands of households... Although dioxins and furans have been shown to damage the health of laboratory animals, direct evidence of the compounds' effects in humans is less clear but still cause for concern..."
[Source: American Chemical Society (2000, January 4). Backyard Burning Identified As Potential Major Source Of Dioxins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000104064534.htm#]
It turns out that low temperature trash pile, pit, and barrel burning produce way more toxins than today's regulated incinerators. My daughter said, "Dioxins are hard to break down once created (during plastic burning), and the cooler the burn, the less gets broken down."
She went on to say that, "It's especially unfortunate because it's a highly bioaccumulative toxin. I'd bet there are some factors that affect uptake, so it's worth seeing if any supplements can reduce exposure." Then she checked into it, said it appears that chlorophyll, and more specifically chlorella, is good for such detoxification, and referred me to a couple of products. (See links/ordering info below.)
I was planning on going to the health food store tomorrow anyway, and I've added chlorella to my list, to see what's available locally. If you live in a rural community that still allows homeowners to burn waste, please be aware of and follow the rules, and to protect yourself against such toxins, wherever you live, consider adding chlorella to your health regimen.
And if a neighbor is burning illegally, make sure they know the rules, and if they continue to ignore the rules, report them! Your community has non-emergency contact numbers for reporting offenders. Check the community pages in the front of your phone book, or call the most closely related government agency you can find to get the correct number to call. (Or look online.)
Backyard Burning Identified As Potential Major Source Of Dioxins - ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2000)
Backyard Trash Burning: The Wrong Answer - very informative article at The Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council's website, DioxinFacts.org.
Chlorella Supplement decreases Dioxin in Breast Milk - The Breast Health Project's blog post on chlorella.
Posted by Randi at 11:30 PM
Thursday, February 19, 2009
They're "Nature's Sunglasses"
If you're eyes are sensitive to daylight, perhaps even with sunglasses, try eating more blueberries! They contain lutein which helps protect your eyes against the brightness, and against the damage the sun's rays can do to your eyes. About a half cup a day is what I eat, and I can tell the difference when I don't.
Does this mean you shouldn't wear sunglasses outdoors? No. Lutein from foods such as blueberries, or from supplements, adds protection indoors and out. Indoors? Do you really need protection indoors? Actually, yes! Watch this video, courtesy of YouTube and iHealthTube.com, and find out more!
Order lutein online:
Maxi Vision is an excellent product; their Whole Body Formula is a multiple vitamin with lutein and other nutrients for eye health. I've taken it and recommend it highly. You may be able to purchase it at your eye doctor's office. (If they still make the liquid form, I recommend avoiding that. It has a funky taste, similar to the smell of burning rubber, that lasts and lasts. I ended up throwing mine away after trying it once. Just couldn't bring myself to repeat the experience.)
Note: Serving size for the Whole Body Formula is 4 capsules, so keep that in mind when ordering.
Lutein products from other sources:
Order Dr. Abel's book:
The Eye Care Revolution: Prevent and Reverse Common Vision Problems by Robert Abel, Jr.
Posted by Randi at 6:59 PM
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Not so much a remedy as important info about an often overlooked explanation of MVP.
If you have mitral valve prolapse (MVP) and it's non-regurgitating (there's no backflow of blood), you've probably been told it was a benign condition, of no medical significance except that you should take antibiotics before having any dental procedures to prevent infective endocarditis. (That has changed; since October 2007, premedication with antibiotics is no longer recommended for people with MVP. (source)
But is MVP really an benign condition? According to a wonderful book by Ronald L. Hoffman, M.D., MVP is "an indicator of an underlying instability of the autonomic nervous system." (p. 8, Natural Therapies for Mitral Valve Prolapse)
What does this mean? It means if you have MVP, you may also have anxiety attacks and other seemingly unrelated anomalies. To clarify, MVP does not cause the other conditions, but if you have MVP, you're likely to also have these other problems.
Your autonomic nervous system (ANS), the one that controls involuntary functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and more, may suddenly, for no apparent reason, go haywire. Your fight or flight response may be triggered when there is no stimulus or danger. You're in a state of panic and have no idea why. You may have chest pains and feel like you are having a heart attack, but a visit to the emergency room tells you no, it's a panic attack, not a heart attack.
Besides being annoying and even frightening, the repeat flooding of stress hormones can weaken the immune system. Instability of the ANS can also cause or promote migraine headaches, dizziness, insomnia, heart palpitations, and an array of other problems.
So, if you have MVP and have reason to believe you may also have this "underlying instability of the autonomic nervous system" what can you do about it? First, I highly recommend getting a copy of the book I mentioned. It's small, easy to read, and inexpensive (current price at Amazon, new, is $3.95.) And while you're at it, order a couple of extra copies - one for your doctor, one for a friend or relative who also has MVP. (And no, I'm not saying that so I'll get 10 cents more commission from Amazon. I have purchased several copies already myself, and have given them all away except for my personal, very marked up copy. I'm recommending this book in duplicate because I think it is that good, that useful, and darn cheap compared to a visit to an emergency room!)
The book, only 48 pages long, is packed with understandable explanations including diagnosis, prevention of symptoms through diet, proper breathing, and properly paced exercise. It also discusses the effects MVP syndrome can have on other chronic conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia, and others.
I could say so much more, but the book says it so much better. So please, if you have MVP or know someone who does, get a copy of this book - wherever you buy it. And come back and leave a comment. Was I right? Did you find the book useful and highly informative? What did your doctor think of it? I'd really like to know!
Posted by Randi at 11:01 PM
Monday, February 16, 2009
Reduce inflammation and uric acid levels.
Since we celebrate George Washington's birthday today, it's a great time to talk about cherries as a remedy. Yes, good old Bing cherries, or actually, good new fresh Bing Cherries. Studies by the USDA-ARS have shown the usefulness of Bing cherries for reducing the inflammation of arthritis, especially the form known as gout, where crystals of uric acid accumulate in the toes, causing great pain.
This is one of my favorite remedies; I love cherries! The studies mentioned above tested the effectiveness of fresh cherries. However, fresh cherries are not available year-round. So for this we bring in other forms of cherries: frozen, dried, cherry extract. Are they effective for arthritis and gout? According to an article, Gout: A Crystalline Deposit Disorder, on Life Extension Foundation's website, cherry extract is. And another article, Cherries, says other forms are also useful, including frozen, canned and juiced.
One word of warning: if you're going to eat a significant amount of cherries on a routine basis, try to get organic cherries (fresh, juice, etc.); cherries are fairly high on list of fruits containing pesticide residues. (source)
So if you have inflammation, arthritis, and/or gout, give cherries a try! Perhaps (a pain-free) life is a bowl of cherries!
Order Cherry products:
Posted by Randi at 10:07 PM
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Chewable tablets to help your tummy.
Caution: If you have latex allergy or sensitivity, you may also be allergic to papain (papaya enzyme).
When your tummy is a little upset after eating, forget the pink stuff and the chalky tablets, help your stomach do its job: digesting food. That's what these cute little papaya enzymes do. Papain, the enzyme from papayas - sometimes blended with bromelain, a digestive enzyme from pineapple - helps break down what you've eaten so your tummy doesn't have to work so hard.
It's also helpful to take with meals containing beans. We all know what they can do! Throw some digestive enzymes into the mix to tame them. If they don't completely prevent gas at least it will be less likely to smell and really embarrass you!
Usually the directions say take one or three, or some ridiculously small number per meal. I usually take 6-8. Personally, I do have a latex sensitivity, but I have taken papaya enzymes quite frequently for years. I've been vegan/vegetarian since 1986, so I usually eat beans in some form on a daily basis.
I never noticed any sort of problem from it, but if you have a latex allergy/sensitivity ask your doctor before taking this remedy. (I just found out about the latex/papaya issue tonight.) If you prefer not to use papain, try bromelain instead. It also does a good job.
There are digestive enzymes you swallow instead of chewing, which is nice if you're avoiding sugar. All the papaya enzymes I've taken have sugar and dyes in them. I just noticed the ones I'd been buying at my grocery store have hydrogenated oil in them. Yuck! I'll be ordering some from one of the links below. They're the original brand I used back in the 70s!
You can probably find papaya enzymes locally in drugstores, Wal-Mart (too sugary for me), grocery stores and health food stores. Wherever you get them, be sure to read the ingredients - both active and inactive.
Chewables usually have some from of sugar even if they say "sugar free." Avoid any containing hydrogenated oils. And just because the label says papaya enzymes doesn't necessarily mean it won't have some enzymes from other sources, which is mostly important if you have allergies.
Okay, that's it for today. Bon appetit!
Order papaya enzymes online:
Posted by Randi at 11:26 PM
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Is your heart crying out for it?
Magnesium is good for your heart. Yet people, including doctors, often overlook this basic, essential mineral.
Although I'm really taking a break from blogging today, I wanted to mention this heart remedy. It's great for prevention and for staying healthier once heart disease has developed.
Magnesium needs to be in balance with calcium, but many people get more calcium in their diet than magnesium. A dietary adjustment is preferable, though magnesium supplements are also an option. Foods rich in magnesium include seeds and nuts, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables. (When you cook your dark green leafy vegetables - or any vegetables for that matter, it's better to steam them than to boil in lots of water. But if you must use lots of water, consume it - much of the magnesium in the veggies leaches out into the water!)
Find out more on the Life Extension Foundation website.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Speed up your adjustment time!
It's getting close to that time of year...or should I say one of those times of year. Yes, daylight savings time is once again drawing near, and if, like me, you have a hard time adjusting to the change each time, I have a remedy for you: melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone which can help with time shifts such as daylight savings time and jet lag. For daylight savings time, I take one 300 mcg (micrograms) tablet at bedtime the night of the time change, and for a couple of nights after that.
When I take melatonin, I adjust fairly quickly to the time change, and can accurately judge what time it is during the day and if I wake up at night. If I don't take it, instead of feeling like time has shifted one hour, for some strange reason I feel about 3 hours off, and this can go on for a couple of weeks. So I try to remember to keep some melatonin on hand, and try to remember to take it!
If I forget the first night, I'll take it the next night at bedtime, and for a night or two after that. After that, I usually don't need it, and since I have a tendency toward depression, and melatonin can tilt you that way (the longer I take it, the more likely it will have that effect) I only use it for brief periods. And I take a very low dose. Notice I said I take 300 micrograms.
It's available in various strengths, up to 10 mg, but be sure to check with your doctor if you have any serious health conditions, including depression, before taking this remedy. And read up online about the recommended doses and potential side effects. (See links below, or google it yourself.)
Melatonin Information Links:
What is the proper dose of melatonin? - article on Life Extension Foundation's website.
Melatonin - article with background and safety information on the Mayo Clinic's website.
Melatonin - alleviates jet lag? - article at Go Ask Alice, with instructions on how to use it for this purpose.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Universal health care.
I love natural remedies. Generally they are relatively inexpensive, and if selected wisely treat the underlying cause, not just the symptom.
I use natural remedies - vitamins, minerals, herbs, meditation, yoga, therapeutic massage, chiropractic care, aromatherapy, homeopathics - I consider them all to be natural remedies, and find them useful. I take about $200 worth of natural supplements and herbal remedies a month for my myriad ailments. And I pay $70 a month for an hour of therapeutic deep-tissue massage.
If I didn't feel squeezed for money lately, I'd also be spending $45 a month for a chiropractic adjustment. (I can't say why this is the one corner I cut, but it is. I certainly find it very helpful, and believe it can help prevent additional problems.) In spite of the expense - which is in addition to the $320 a month I pay to Blue Cross / Blue Shield - I feel the remedies help me. Duh, why else would I spend so much money on them?
Part of the reason I use natural remedies is that they can be safer than prescription medications. Homeopathics certainly are. It's hard to imagine aromatherapy causing me harm. I read reliable sources to learn the recommended amounts of various vitamins and minerals for particular problems, and know the limits that are considered safe and the symptoms of excess or overdose.
Yet for all my attention to taking good care of myself, one area is sorely lacking - quality medical care. I like my primary care practitioner, a physician's assistant who takes time to listen to me, explain certain things, and mull over options with me. I often take a half-hour of his time; nobody at the office ever tries to hurry me out. I have no complaints there.
My complaints come in as soon as anything requires an expensive test or the attention of a specialist. When my blood work was positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis, he asked if I wanted to see a specialist, although we both knew - and discussed - that the closest decent one was an hour away, and the best ones an hour and a half, and I don't like to drive (tension, pain, tendency to get drowsy even on short drives.) But I though it might be useful to see the local specialist. I was wrong. I cost me over $200 to learn absolutely nothing.
Now I may have a bladder infection. I think it would be a good idea to get tested just in case it isn't my interstitial cystitis acting up. But with current economic struggles (personal as well as the general economy) I hesitate to spend the $20 co-pay for a visit to the doctor. I can afford it, I'm just reluctant to spend it.
I hadn't really realized how much my daily life is affected by not feeling financially comfortable enough to seek proper medical care - especially a good and accurate diagnosis - for my chronic problems. I regularly discuss them with my primary care provider, but he doesn't have enough answers. He is, after all, a fairly traditional, though open-minded, medical person. He knows less than I do about alternatives. I only wish he knew more than me!!
Anyway, what got me to thinking about all this was watching Michael Moore's documentary, Sicko, tonight. Fortunately, I don't have any major health problems draining me of every dime. But I do worry about what would happen to me if something catastrophic did happen, either illness or accident.
My sister and her husband live in France, and because he is disabled and she is his caretaker, they get totally free medical care, even the little copays. I'd love to have the security of knowing that if something did happen, money concerns wouldn't add to the burden, or prevent my getting needed care.
What I saw tonight on Sicko made me want to move to a country with socialized medicine. It also made me laugh and cry and cheer. It was well-done and a real eye-opener on several issues.
So today's remedy is this excellent documentary. If you haven't seen it, please do. If you think socialized medicine is bad, frightening or un-American, watch it anyway. Perhaps your news sources have only been giving you one side of the story. Even if you're all for socialized medicine in America, you may learn things you didn't know, or be inspired to work toward making it a reality.
Personally, I don't think a for-profit medical system is a morally or spiritually responsible concept. A well-run socialized medical system, especially one that focuses on preventative medicine - truly preventative medicine - is both humane and cost-effective. And a good remedy for what ails the American health care system.
See Showtime's listings for Sicko. Don't get Showtime? Watch it at a friend's house, see if it's available at the library, rent it at a video store, or buy it at Amazon.
And please leave a comment below!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
What did they expect from a daily multivitamin? Miracles?
"The largest study ever of multivitamin use in older women found the pills did nothing to prevent common cancers or heart disease."
- Study: Multivitamins Don't Help Everyone
I just think the whole premise for the study, and the article, is wrong. Multivitamins were never intended to prevent major diseases, just outright vitamin deficiencies of a few nutrients. In many cases, the amounts of a given vitamin in a multivitamin is too small to even do that. Vitamin E, for example. What do you see, something like 15-30 i.u. in most multivitamins? Pathetically inadequate if you ask me.
The RDA and the newer RDI were based on the amounts of a given nutrient needed for a healthy person to maintain a minimal level of health. These levels do not take into account genetically determined higher requirements for a particular vitamin, the person's environment, lifestyle, eating habits, size, weight, or current physical condition.
The levels are not what is needed for a healthy person - or a not-so-healthy person - to achieve or maintain optimal health. The levels do not take into account if the person drinks coffee, sodas, or alcohol, or eats a "normal" amount of sugar, each of which can waste B-vitamins. And many people consume all three of these!
The levels of recommended nutrients do not consider an individual's consumption of chemicals in foods (preservatives, additives, residues of pesticides) which will raise their requirement of vitamin C. So does exposure to environmental toxins, bacteria and viruses. So okay, a multivitamin may have enough to prevent recognized symptoms of scurvy. Big whoop!
I agree with the article that a vitamin supplement should not take the place of getting nutrients from food. If we can get them from food, certainly that is better. They're in their natural state, perhaps with synergistic nutrients that enhance their benefit. If they're in there in the first place. And if they don't get destroyed by cooking or are thrown out with cooking water. (If you cook your veggies in water instead of steaming them, save the water for soup - or just drink it once it cools!)
Wait a minute, back up... "If they're in there in the first place?" Yes, indeed, that's what I said. Growing foods with chemical fertilizers drives some nutrient deeper into the soil where plants' roots can't reach or absorb them. And commonly used fertilizers do not replace all nutrients taken from the soil by the plants. If the nutrients existed in a location in the first place, they may have been depleted after many years of farming, even with crop rotation. Erosion carries away topsoil with its valuable nutrients. Increasing crop yields per acre has probably resulted in lower nutritional content of foods. 'Nuff said?
Update: new article - Eating Your Veggies: Not As Good For You?
Assignment #1: See if you can find a recent study on the nutrient content of a variety of foods in several locations throughout the U.S. (or your country.) Go ahead. Google away! Let me know what you find...enter your comments below.
Okay, so after all my ranting, do I recommend multivitamins? Yes and no.
No, if they give you a false sense of security. They can't replace the dietary insults of improper or inadequate nutrition. They may help, but you may do yourself more harm than good if you think you can pop a daily multivitamin in your mouth and chase it down with a soda and denatured food in an imbalanced diet.
Yes, if you get the best-quality multivitamin you can afford and use it as extra insurance against what may be missing in a well-balanced diet.
Assignment #2: When you're in line at the grocery store, take a good look at what you're buying. Take a look at what most other people are buying. (If it's about the same, start reading up on health and nutrition!!) You'll see a lot of soda, alcohol, desserts, frozen and canned vegetables, and a predominance of processed foods which often have "wheat flour" (or sugar!) as the main ingredient. "Wheat flour" (not to be confused with 100% whole wheat flour) is very denatured, don't let the term "enriched" fool you - they took out a lot more than what they put in.
"According to the USDA, (Handbook #8, 1963) white bread has the following losses of nutrients which are found in whole wheat bread: calcium, 60%; iron, 76%; potassium, 74%; magnesium, 78%; B1, 90%; B2, 61%; niacin, 80%; B6, 60%; linoleic acid, 50%, folic acid, 79%; pantothenic acid, 69%; vitamin E, 100%; copper, 74%; manganese, 84%; zinc, 50%." - Bread - The Staff of Life?
Oh, and by the way, don't be fooled by brown wrappers on bread or the claim "made with 100% whole wheat." Read the list of ingredients. It may be made with 100% whole wheat and "enriched wheat flour."
Assignment #3: While you're in the store, take a stroll down the cracker aisle. Find a product which does not have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. (Keep looking...you may eventually find one!) These are trans-fats, the ones the USDA has been telling you for years to avoid. Even if they weren't bad for you (they promote coronary artery disease) they cannot perform the function of unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats transport fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) throughout the body.
As usual, I'm recommending a few products for their quality. Order them here or get them at a local health food store, use them wisely, keep them out of the reach of children, and for goodness' sake don't expect them to prevent cancer and heart disease!
Thanks for listening. I feel better now. If you liked what you read here, please spread the word. Leave a comment if you want, tell me what you found at the grocery store, what you liked or didn't like about this post, or tell me something I don't know. (Really, I'm not being sarcastic. What I don't know is a lot! At least I know that!)
Another update: and the beat goes on... An article published on 2/18/09 referred to the original article on multivitamins, saying, "...one can't help but wonder how nutritionally bankrupt veggies can be avoided. Supplementing them is problematic, too: don't look to vitamin pills, as recent research indicates that those aren't very helpful either." Ack! The original article said they were not found to be helpful in preventing cancer or heart attacks, not that they weren't helpful at all. The study reviewed in that article didn't even look into possible benefits of taking multivitamins! Sheesh! Let's leave a little room for hope!! On the other hand, the new article does speak well of the benefits of organic produce.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
For waiting areas of banks and other places you have to wait, and wait, and wait...
This isn't exactly a remedy. Sure, massage chairs can relieve back pain, so in that way yes, this is about a remedy. But this is more of a complaint. About having to wait in uncomfortable chairs, for way too long. And so my story begins.
Today I went to my bank, cashed a couple checks, and asked the teller did I have to ask the "desk people" my questions about my safety deposit box and savings account. As expected, the answer was yes. So I went and sat in the waiting area.
There are two "desk people" at my bank, and as I sat down, one left for lunch, for the day, forever...I don't know. The other was with a client, and after waiting about 15 minutes, with no end to the current client in sight, I decided to try calling the bank's toll-free number to see if I could get the answer to my more urgent question.
After wading through all the automated choices, I got to a person - in India, of course - who after making me repeat the information I entered into the phone already, said he couldn't answer my question and put me on hold.
The client at the desk is still nowhere near done, so I try to wait patiently...for several minutes. After which the person comes back and tells me he couldn't access the information, he'd put me on hold and contact the branch - meaning the bank I was sitting in. I told him that's where I was. But figuring he might get faster service, I let him put me on hold. The phone at the abandoned desk rang, and rang. Then stopped. And the customer service rep in India came back on and said he'd connect me to someone at the branch who could help me.
An employee answered the phone, identified herself, and said she'd help me as soon as she finished with a customer. Of course, it was the same teller who'd waited on me in the beginning. And I could hear her through both ears. After a brief wait, she came back to the phone to help me, at which point it all got hilarious, because I told her who I was, and how it came to be that we were now talking on the phone. She apologized, and suggested we hang up our phones and meet at her teller window. Great idea!!
There, she actually was able to look up the info I needed, apologizing again for how long I'd had to wait. We had a good laugh about the ridiculousness of the situation, and I said if they had comfy massage chairs, I wouldn't have minded waiting even longer, so perhaps they'd consider adding some. Well, it was worth a good laugh, and I left happy instead of frustrated. Laughter really is the best medicine! (And comfortable chairs. Preferably with massage. Heat would be nice, too!)
So, here's my experience with massage chairs, in case you're still reading and are interested. I've tested several iJoy and Human Touch massage chairs and other brands at Sharper Image and other stores in a large city shopping mall. My favorite is the Human Touch top of the line chair, but the lesser ones are nice, too. Be sure to try them out, and make sure the model you select works well for you before buying locally or online.
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Sunday, February 8, 2009
For digestive troubles.
Activated charcoal is commonly used to counteract certain ingested poisons. However, it can also be used to intestinal gas and other digestive troubles.
I have taken it on several occasions over the years, mostly for intestinal troubles of unknown origin. Perhaps caused by improper food combining, perhaps a bit of bacteria in the food, perhaps a virus.
Whatever the cause, activated charcoal can help. It's absorption properties allow it to neutralize such things. It isn't the pleasantest remedy; the tablets are chewable, and feel a bit like something between chalk and finely powdered glass when you chew them. They don't have much of a flavor... just the odd texture.
Still, they're a handy remedy to keep on hand. The bottle I have has no expiration date, I suppose because it simply doesn't need one. So an inexpensive bottle will probably last you for years.
Of course, if you purchase some with an expiration date, obey it. And if you have a serious digestive problem, possible appendicitis, or suspect food poisoning, do get medical help!
But for simple upsets, queasy feelings, deranged feelings in your stomach or intestines, this remedy does an excellent job. Remember, though, it's for occasional use only - it absorbs vitamins and other nutrients, too!
P.S.: Happy news for those of you who don't like the idea of chewing the tablets... they're available in capsules, too! See ordering info below. The first item is the tablets I use. I haven't tried the others, but they should also be good. If you want to make sure they'll digest easily and quickly, you could stir the capsule contents into a couple ounces of water and drink it.
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Saturday, February 7, 2009
It's a natural pain killer!
Calcium is a natural pain killer, did you know that? In severe cases, injection may be required to bring relief, but in less extreme situations, oral ingestion of calcium supplements is sufficient.
Start with the RDI of calcium in a well-absorbed form, such as calcium citrate. Even less-absorbable dolomite (watch out for heavy metal contamination - get a good brand from a health food store) works well when accompanied by two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (from a health food store) in a glass of water. Dolomite also contains magnesium, which is essential for calcium's use in the body.
Try to avoid calcium supplements with sugar, which tends to make the calcium less absorbable. And if one type of calcium doesn't work for you, try another type. For some reason, a given type will work better for some people than for others. Vitamin D helps calcium work, so that's handy to have in your calcium supplement, or you can take it separately at the same time.
Several years ago I had calcium injections a couple of times for back pain, and I can tell you they are rather amazing. The injections are given slowly, and make you feel rather warm. Also very relaxed. I left the doctor's office feeling like I'd taken a tranquilizer. And the pain...what pain? It was gone while the effect lasted. I don't remember now how long that was, it was about 25 years ago. But if you have pain and know a doctor who gives them, I recommend giving them a try.
For the rest of us, take the RDI of calcium in divided doses: half in the morning, half before bedtime. It will help you sleep well, too!
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Friday, February 6, 2009
Natural Cox-2 inhibitor.
Many chronic health problems are associated with inflammation; some are caused by inflammation, others cause inflammation. But whether cause or effect, inflammation often causes pain. Reducing inflammation generally reduces pain caused by it.
Inflama-Rest is a natural anti-inflammatory, with vitamins, minerals, herbs, and herbal extracts to counter the Cox-2 inflammatory response.
I've taken this remedy for about a year, sometimes at the full recommended dose, more often at half the recommended dose. I also take one naproxen sodium per day. Even with the full dose of Inflam-Rest, I still need the naproxen sodium anyway, and half the Inflama-Rest dose is enough to compliment the otc medication sufficiently.
For those of you who don't know me, my physical challenges include osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, hypoglycemia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), mitral valve prolapse (subject of an upcoming post!), allergies (food and environmental - fortunately none are severe), baker's cysts, and a bulging lumbar disc.
Many of these are auto-immune diseases, and several are associated with inflammation. Top of the list: anxiety. Being in a constantly anxious state sets off a systemic response that results in inflammation. So does momentary stress, but in that case, the stress subsides, and so does the inflammation.
I try to remember to relax, breathe, do yoga, get sufficient rest, keep a healthy mindset, etc. but I still need help! I take lots of vitamins, minerals, herbs, flax seed and or flax oil; but I still need help! I took Vioxx for several months while it was available, and for that brief period I felt fairly normal. Not only did it control inflammation very nicely, so that I had little or no chronic pain, but I also noticed greatly improved mood and energy level. So I know how much an anti-inflammatory can help.
I'm not too impressed with the meds used in place of Vioxx. I've taken a couple and didn't like side effects. So even though I still have some chronic pain, I make do with naproxen sodium and the added benefits of Inflama-Rest.
I realize I haven't talked much about Inflama-Rest itself, or written the most glowing report of how it cured me of all my ills, or at least made me forget about them. However, it is a remedy worthy of your consideration if you live with the pain of chronic inflammation, or are interested in using something natural instead of a pharmaceutical. Check with your doctor first before discontinuing any medication, and also if you have a serious condition, or a possible contra-indication to taking this remedy. (There's a list of ingredients if you follow the link at the top of this article.)
If you try it, please comment below to let me and other readers know how you liked it, if it helped you, how much you took, and any other pertinent info you care to share. Thanks!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Even better than calendula gel!
A couple of days ago I wrote about calendula gel and how wonderful it is for itching. It is, and I meant every word I said. However, the night I posted that, I had a unusually severe attack of itching.
It started when I ignored the usual persistent itch for two hours. I just kept on working and trying to ignore it. Then when I took a break and went to apply the calendula gel, I though maybe I'd try something else, maybe it was dry and needed moisturizing. Maybe a healing moisturizer would work longer, better, treat an underlying cause. Wrong!
I ended up itching more, scratching like a crazed dog, and then applying the calendula gel, which did little at that point, especially on top of the other stuff I'd put on. So I grabbed my favorite aromatherapy book, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, and looked up remedies for itching skin.
I had on hand two of the remedies recommended, and one, peppermint, struck me as the one to try first. I knew it also had a cooling, analgesic effect, from using it on back, shoulder, and neck pain. I just put a drop on my fingertip and rubbed it on the itchy spot. And washed my finger well afterwards, not wanting to rub it in my eye or other sensitive area later.
Aooga! The itching soon subsided, and didn't come back for about twice as long as when I use calendula gel for these itchy spots. Furthermore, when the itching returned, it wasn't as intense as usual, AND if I scratch it lightly, it doesn't get worse! (It doesn't go away either, just from scratching, but it is nice to be able to scratch an itch... just a little... now and then.)
So now I'm offering you two choices for itching:
1) calendula gel (odorless, colorless, non-greasy) and
2) peppermint oil (you'll smell like a peppermint patty!, colorless, oil-based).
Personally, I usually use Aura Cacia essential oils. There are less expensive essential oils, but they don't always smell as nice. Some health food stores have sample bottles so you can sniff before you buy. However, what I found in my medicine cabinet was peppermint oil by NOW, a less expensive brand, that smells OK and costs less. And, as I said, it worked wonders for the itch.
The only caution I know of for this product is if you find it irritates your skin, discontinue use or dilute in a carrier oil, such as almond oil (Almond peppermints, anyone?) And of course, only use as directed.
The peppermint oils I have used (Aura Cacia, NOW) can be used as flavoring, too, but check the label before using to be sure!
Want to order online? See info below.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Best Home Remedy for Burns
Caution: for all third-degree burns and large first and second-degree burns, get immediate medical attention!
Vitamin C is an excellent home remedy for burns. A 3% solution (6,000 mg. per cup of water) can be applied directly to a burn. It brings almost immediate relief from pain and helps prevent scarring. The application should be repeated every few hours, though it is safe to use as often as the pain returns, even every few minutes.
You could dip the injured part in a cup or bowl of vitamin C water, or even leave it soaking in the vitamin C if you like. You may lay cloths moistened with the solution on the wound. I usually find it simpler to spray it on, and children are generally more willing to have a wound sprayed than touched.
To prepare the solution from vitamin C tablets, take twelve 500 mg. tablets, crush them, and dissolve the powder in one cup of room temperature water. Since vitamin C destroys germs, I usually use tap water. If you prefer, you can use distilled or sterilized water. If you boil the water before using it, make sure you allow it to cool completely before adding the vitamin C. It is destroyed by heat. Vitamin C is unstable in water, so prepare it fresh every couple of days if you need it for that long. I use 6,000 mg. of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) crystals. It mixes easily with water and no crushing is necessary.
You could put the tablets in a spray bottle marked with a line for the amount of water to be added when needed. That way you'll have what you need together in one place. When you need the remedy remove the tablets from the bottle, crush them and return them to the bottle and add the water to the line you have marked. (Don't crush the tablets ahead of time - vitamin C is destroyed by oxygen.)
You can also get pure granular (powdered) vitamin C instead of tablets. You don't have to crush it, and it has no fillers or additives. If you will also be drinking it in water as a source of vitamin C, be sure to get the ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate form. If you get the buffered form, calcium ascorbate, it tastes fairly disgusting in water. It tastes OK in juice or smoothies, though it neutralizes some of the juice's acidity. Calcium ascorbate would be fine to use in the solution for burns - perhaps even better than the ascorbic acid, since calcium is a natural pain killer!
This remedy comes from Adelle Davis' book Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit. [link opens new window] I have used it many times over the past 25 years, and have recommended it to friends. The most remarkable experience I have had with it was when I recommended it to my cousin who is a mechanic.
He called me one day in a panic asking what he could do for a severe burn. A hot radiator broke and blasted his chest with hot steam and liquid. He had showered quickly to remove the chemicals and called me right away. I told him how to make the vitamin C spray and he abruptly hung up. I didn't think about it again until a few months later when he related the following story to me.
Several weeks after his burn incident he discovered a lump in his neck and immediately went to his doctor. My cousin removed his shirt and the Doctor examined him carefully, then asked him if he had been burned recently. When my cousin told him what had happened, the doctor was fairly surprised that such an extensive burn had healed so completely - he saw no hint of injury on my cousin's chest though it had been so badly burned.
My cousin was relieved to know that the lump was just an after-effect of the burn. He was absolutely tickled that the vitamin C spray had done such a thorough job that he had forgotten all about the incident until the Doctor asked him!
He also added that the spray had relieved the pain immediately upon application, and that he had reapplied it whenever the pain would begin to return. My children and I have also found the relief to be immediate and complete whenever we have used the spray for kitchen burns or sunburns. We apply it as often as the pain returns.
This is one of the safest, most effective and least expensive home remedies I have come across in over 25 years of experience with natural remedies. I recommend it very highly!
More info on Vitamin C for Burns:
I didn't think this info would be so hard to find! I found one reference to using vitamin as a spray for burns - a basic description of preparing vitamin C spray from tablets - in Smart Medicine for Healthier Living, several with identical formulas for a burn spray with vitamin C and aloe vera, and my own article Burns: Vitamin C - The Best Home Remedy, from which I adapted this post. But nothing authorititative other than the current interest in using it intravenously for healing of severe burns.
In-depth info on Vitamin C, if you're interested:
Observations On the Dose and Administration of Ascorbic Acid When Employed Beyond the Range Of A Vitamin In Human Pathology - lengthy scientific article by Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., F.C.C.P., published in Journal of Applied Nutrition Vol. 23, No's 3 & 4, Winter 1971.
Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C - in-depth article about the work of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., abbreviated, sumarized and annotated by Lendon H. Smith, M.D. (Dr. Smith was a kind and wise pediatrician with a deep understanding of the importance of proper nutrition. He was author of Feed Your Kids Right and several other books. I was very fortunate to hear him speak in the early '80s at a hospital in New Orleans. We had a poster of him on our kitchen door for many years, advertising a vitamin B supplement, Bio-Strath. In the poster, he's holding a plate with hamburger and fries, has a rather disapproving look on his face, and is saying, "It's fast, but is it food?" I wish I still had that poster!)
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009
(Related post: Peppermint oil - for itching.)
About 10 years ago someone gave me a half-used 1-ounce tube of Boericle & Tafel's Califlora calendula gel. It says it relieves sun and wind burn, minor cuts and scrapes, etc., but what I use it for is itching. This homeopathic remedy works wonders for pesky itches.
Its relief is temporary, it isn't a cure, but ahhhh, relief! I have some spots on my back that love to go all itchy, and once in a blue moon I get some sort of burny-itchy feeling at the base of one site of my nose. Once in an even bluer moon I get a deep itching on an index finger.
I've used this remedy on my nose spot and back spots. (I sound rather like a leopard, don't I? Actually there are things to see there, but we haven't organized a tour yet. I don't think people will come from miles around to see my undiagnosed peculiarities. At least I hope not! And no, I'm not crazy, I just have a strange and sometimes hard to follow sense of humor.)
I don't remember using the remedy on the deep finger itch, but next time it occurs, hopefully it will occur to me to try the Califlora, and also remember to post an update here. Being such a deep-feeling sort of itch I rather think it won't help anyway, but it's worth a try.
My Mom had an itch on her thigh that was driving her crazy for days before she asked if I had anything that would help. One application did it; it stopped itching and never bothered her again.
I've never tried this remedy for any of its other uses. I have a better remedy for sunburn that's easier to apply. I was thinking of waiting until summer to post my sunburn remedy, but since it's also good for regular burns I'll post it tomorrow.
So, if you've got a persistent itch, don't scratch it, you know that makes it want more attention. Instead of the backscratcher, reach for a tube of calendula gel, and calm that itch down. If you try it - or have already tried it - post a comment; share your wisdom. I don't have to be the only wise guy around here!
More info about calendula:
Calendula: Herbal Remedies - article at How Stuff Works
Calendula (Calendula officinalis L.) - Medline article at nih.gov
Calendula - A.D.A.M. article on the University of Maryland Medical Center's website.
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Monday, February 2, 2009
For a natural energy boost.
I was introduced to this remedy a couple of years ago by the owner of a local health food store who is also a Registered Nurse. She gave me some sample packets to try. The first one I tried prior to mowing the lawn, a task that usually saps my energy and leaves me a little shaky. I was pleased to find I felt about as good after two hours of mowing as I had before. Remarkable!
I took the other packets under similar circumstances, with similar results. So when I was preparing for a trip to France last fall, I bought a box to take with me. Not so much for myself, but for my Mom. This trip was her 80th birthday present, and she often runs out of steam quickly. So I took it with me, and left it in my suitcase, totally forgetting about it while dragging my Mom around a few places. I should have taken memory remedies for myself...I didn't remember what I'd packed it for until I was back home, unpacking. Oh well, we did have fun anyway.
The following month I took another trip, this one to the northeast to see one daughter in New Hampshire, and then my other daughter and my one and only most adorable in the world granddaughter in New York. Challenge #1 was staying awake for the long drive from NH to NY, a 5-hour drive which turned into a 9-hour ordeal which included being stuck in the snowy mountains of Vermont due to an accident up ahead and a major detour. I arrived happily and safely in New York, without falling asleep at the wheel - which I often have to fight even on short trips (1/2 hour!) The Electrolyte Stamina which I took before leaving NH kept me awake and alive.
In New York, my generous daughter shared her cold with me, so for most of my almost 2 week stay there I was feeling yucky, but needed to be up and about, playing with my soon-to-be-2-year-old granddaughter. Electrolyte Stamina kept me going, and antispas helped keep the cold from getting too bad. Generous person that I am, I shared my remedies, including Electrolyte Stamina, with my daughter, and gave her several packets when I left. (We both needed electrolyte replacement just for the salt lost in our tears!)
More recently, my son and his girlfriend came to my house to celebrate his birthday. It's only a little over an hour's drive, but with about 3 hours sleep the night before, they arrived exhausted, ready to fall asleep in their dinner plates, or even messier, in their cake and ice cream plates! Electrolyte Stamina to the rescue! His girlfriend, who was driving, took some, and was soon feeling quite normal, much to her happy surprise. I gave her some more before she drove home a few hours later, and a few extra packets for future use. She was thrilled, and planned on buying a box for herself.
OK, so there's my anecdotal evidence that Electrolyte Stamina is a good product. It has a slew of vitamins and minerals, most particularly 201 mg. of potassium per packet. It also has 160 mg. sodium, which may nullify some of the potassium, but since this is a formula for sweaty athletes, the sodium is important. Its 1200 mg of vitamin C may help prevent muscle fatigue.
The only flavor I've tried is cranberry, but it also comes in raspberry, orange and lemon-lime. Like Emergen-C, this remedy comes in a box of individual foil packets, and is a powder that gets fizzy when added to water. It's also available in tablets, but what fun is that? Notice, too, the tablets are a different formula, and listed amounts are per 6 tablets.
OK, enough about me. How about you? Could you use an energy boost? Are you preparing for something physically strenuous? If the answer is yes, consider this remedy. I've used it, like it, and highly recommend it! If you've already tried it, please leave some feedback to let others know how it worked (or didn't work) for you.
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Sunday, February 1, 2009
May be helpful for osteoarthritis (OA).
Several years ago my daughter-in-law told me about Emergen-C, which she found helpful for bad days with fibromyalgia. Emergen-C touts itself as "An Incredible Energy Booster" and claims the product's potassium boosts energy on a cellular level.
I could use more energy, and as a big fan of DMSO and MSM, when I saw they (Alcer Corp.) had a formula with MSM, I chose it. Limited human studies (1, 2) have indicated MSM has a pain-relieving effect in subjects with osteoarthritis. Since I have OA, I have tried this formula, and have found it useful. When I take it, I have less general pain.
I hadn't taken any for a couple of weeks, as I take various remedies at different times, but today I took some during a webcam visit with my granddaughter. We played a bouncing game we often play, and usually it causes me a lot of neck pain afterwards. However, I'm only feeling a vague version of the usual. It isn't a fair comparison, though, because I bounced more gently than usual. Next time I'll take some Emergen-C with MSM and bounce with my usual vigor. I'll let you know how that works out.
This formula contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 200 mg of potassium - plus other vitamins and minerals - in addition to 1,000 mg of MSM. This formula only comes in one flavor, citrus, but there are Emergen-C products without MSM in a wide variety of flavors including Lemon-Lime, Tangerine, Lemon-Cola, Raspberry, Strawberry and more. There's also a Strawberry for Kids formula and one with Glucosamine and Condroitin.
I always prefer powder and liquid remedies to tablets and capsules. I believe they absorb faster and more reliably. I even crush some tablets with a coffee grinder - along with a couple tablespoons of golden flax seeds - and open capsules to add their contents directly to my morning shake. So this fizzy powder is right up my alley.
I mostly use it at home, but since it comes in a box of single-serving foil packs, it's easy to keep one or two in my purse, or pack just a few when travelling.
The MSM formula doesn't taste bad to me, but my son, who liked the smell, definitely did not like the taste. I wouldn't say it's delicious, but then odd-tasting, perhaps-a-little-bitter things don't bother me. This product isn't bitter, but it is odd. But if you've ever tired to take powdered MSM in water, you'd know how comparatively tasty it is!
Since it comes in a box of 36 individual packets, if you try it and don't like it, you can easily pass the rest on to someone else. I've included links below for ordering this remedy, including prices - updated automatically - at different online merchants so you can find the best price. Remember to calculate shipping costs in the total price. (Unfortunately, I have no way to show that on this page.)
Long term chondroitin sulfate supplementation retards arthritis progression - article on Life Extension Foundation's website. (1/30/09)
MSM Improves Pain, Function in Arthritis Patients - In the News on Life Extension Foundation's website. Second article on page. (2/06)
Why Aging People Suffer From So Many Aching Joints - article on Life Extension Foundation's website. (Winter 2004/2005)
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