Category Archives: Health & Beauty

Why are you whispering? Check Them Before You Wreck Them!!

It’s that time of year again, and by that I mean it’s the time for slacktivism in the name of breast cancer. While the games haven’t surfaced (yet), There’s a different one currently going on.  I woke up to see a notification on messenger from my friend’s daughter that said the following:

She sent the words, I made the graphic.

As per my usual stance I had to tell her no because these things make me angry, but assured her that I would get a reminder out.  If you’re new to following me, I must explain that I get really angry with the slactivism.  You see both of my parents died of cancer.  My father died of a mesothelioma (the ones that the attorney’s advertise) and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 months later.

She went through months of medication and radiation, constantly in pain from the literal burns to her skin.  6-1/2 years later, and after yet another clean bill of health from her bi-annual checkups from her breast oncologist, we went on the vacation she’d always dreamed of to Alaska. She had fallen getting in and out the boat she boarded to go salmon fishing.  She caught a nice one too, over 2 feet long!


When we got home her shoulder suddenly started getting worse instead of better.  That’s when  they found a spot on her liver.  They did further testing and revealed that a tumor was in her liver and not on it as it appeared initially and was progressing pretty rapidly.   With the confirmation they gave her 4-6 months to live, but she died one month later when the tumor had grown so large that it literally caused her liver to rupture/explode.


Oddly enough her death certificate lists the cause of death, not as liver cancer, but as metastasized breast cancer, meaning that breast cancer returned has spread.  When I questioned this I was informed that any time someone has breast cancer and then dies of cancer, regardless of what type, the death certificate will always list it as metastasized breast cancer.  I always wonder how much the numbers are skewed by that policy since breast cancer is touted to be the biggest cancer risk to women.


Now for those who haven’t been around someone with cancer, there are several forms of treatment, chemo and radiation being to the two biggest.  Radiation therapy causes a burn to the skin that’s like the worst sunburn you’ve ever had. It was brutal, and it hurt her so bad, just putting a t-shirt on was painful and putting on a bra and going to work, much less going to work all day.  Think about working with the worst sunburn you’ve ever had and then multiply it several times.  It can also cause other issues like lumps under the skin (doesn’t that sound like it would be pleasant to add to already wonderful situation.

Chemotherapy is another type of radiation therapy but instead of being topical (directed to the skin from outside the body) it is invasive, meaning taken internally.  And because it’s an invasive therapy, it means that it can have side effects anywhere in the body instead of it remaining in the area targeted like radiation therapy does.  There’s too long of a list for me to cover all the side effects of chemotherapy;  if you’d like to see them and learn more please visit the National Cancer Institute’s Chemotherapy Side Effects series, there are 18 documents in total.

Educating yourself and others is what needs to be done to finally win this battle.  Cancer has claimed *BILLIONS* of lives.  There is nothing to whisper about behind the scenes. Preventing cancer is not in poor taste, it’s not obscene.  For the record not only do men have wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters and daughters who have, have had or possibly will have this and they need to know about this too, men can also get breast cancer.  Tell me the last time you saw a game of tag about that?

So speak up and speak out.  Stop whispering and playing online games, and thinking you’re off the hook because you bought something with a pink ribbon on it in the past 20 years.  We need to save the people, not the tatas.  So please, check them before cancer wrecks them.  If you’re a woman who is sexually active, consider doing it with your partner since chances are they are more intimate with your boobs than you are (or at least they try to be).  The Five Steps of a Breast Cancer Exam

So remember…

 

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

 

P.S.  While we’re talking about it, guys need to be reminded too.

 

 

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PTSD Awareness

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and it’s more common than you might realize.

PTSD-after-Open-Heart-SurgeryWhat is PTSD?

It’s estimated that approximately 20% of combat vets suffer from PTSD and only half will seek treatment.  But they’re not alone. Originally noted by terms of “shell shock” and “battle fatigue”, we’ve come to realize that it’s not just soldiers who suffer from this. Anyone who has been subject to a severe emotional trauma can experience this as their mind tries to process what has happened.

Abuse victims, rape victims, victims of violent crimes, combat, natural disasters, etc. all take time to emotionally heal from what they’ve experienced. However when the symptoms are severe and they last more than four months, they may very well have PTSD.

PTSD occur

It’s estimated that as many 8% of all Americans (over 24 million) will experience PTSD in their lifetime.  We tend to hear the term thrown around but I wonder how many people really know what it is?

PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by three types of symptoms:

Reliving the event – Most commonly known as flashbacks or triggers, hearing a car backfire can trigger someone to re-experience sounds of gunfire, seeing a car accident can cause someone to relive their own traumatic event, etc.  Something as subtle as a news broadcast or online video, a sound or even a smell can trigger this things during waking life.  Reliving the event in dreams is common as well.

Avoidance of reminders – This can be avoiding tv or movies with similar subject matter such as war movies or ones with fires, earthquakes or one where a character is raped, or avoiding similar locations.  For example, getting robbed at an atm may cause you to only take cash out when you’re at the store so you don’t have to go near the bank.

Having been in a shoe store when it got robbed caused one of my best friends to not be able to bring herself to go in that chain store again for many years; and not just that location but all of them since they all look-alike.

Feeling numb or keyed up – Staying “numb”, shutting down emotionally as a means of not dealing with feeling… with people, activities or even forgetting parts of the traumatic event or just not be able to talk about them.

Being “keyed up” includes sudden rushes to anger or irritability, trouble sleeping or concentrating, becoming almost paranoid about your safety or startling very easily.

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I was working in a restaurant years ago as an hourly supervisor when we were robbed at gunpoint.  No one was hurt thankfully and it was over in about a minute.  It was my last day of work before vacation which I thought was a blessing at the time but it turned out to be my downfall.  With not being there, I wasn’t able to deal with it and fear took over.  When I did go back to work, I couldn’t be anywhere near the register without breaking into a sweat from a panic attack.  My boss was very understanding and accommodated me stepping down from my supervisory position for a couple of weeks and kept me in the kitchen. Sadly it just got worse.

After 9 years with the company I wound up putting in my notice and left because I just couldn’t handle even being in the building anymore. I had nightmares regularly for a couple of years after the incident, each time I wound up getting shot, even though no one got hurt in real life.

A year later my family and I went out to dinner (my daughter was 4 at the time) and my sister noticed a sign that it was supposed to be family night complete with a clown and balloons.  As the server came by my sister asked where the clown was and that my daughter would enjoy a balloon only to be told that he had already left for the night since there weren’t many children in the restaurant.  I was tending to my daughter and heard my sister exclaim “we got robbed” – speaking of the clown and the balloons.  I however broke into a cold sweat and started crying and eventually excused myself to go throw up.  The very definition of being “keyed up” and “startling easily”

I’ve dealt with many things in my life, which to me (on paper at least) would seem to be more traumatic that this one minute window of time… but it derailed me for a several years.  I have no idea why one incident would create such a lasting effect while others did not.  I never sought help, in fact I didn’t even know that what I experienced even had a name.  It wasn’t until many years later when I was retelling the story to someone when they told me it was PTSD.  Had I or someone around me known what it was, I could have sought help to deal with it.

The effects of PTSD run deep

PTSD doesn’t just affect your moods and  your dreams. There is a physiological component to PTSD.  Studies have shown that there are physical changes that take place in the brain.  In other words, your brain gets rewired.  That’s why overcoming it is so difficult. Most affected are the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

The brain controls everything, so physiological changes can affect all areas of your body and life.  The limbic system, located deep in the cerebrum, is composed of the amygdala, the hippocampus and they hypothalamus.

The amygdala deals with our primal instincts – fear, panic and all that’s associated with it; Heart rate changes,  sweaty palms, tremors, even nausea and diarrhea.

The hippocampus handles memory which is why people with PTSD can lose sections of their memory and even what’s called “anterograde amnesia” which is the inability to form new memories even if the old ones are completely intact.  These changes are thought to be caused by increased exposure to cortisol, also known the “stress” hormone.

The hypothalamus controls hormone production.  It affects sex drive, weight gain, sleep, thirst, body temperature, hunger and the release of hormones from other glands including the pituitary.  The pituitary gland is a critical part of our ability to respond the environment around us, most often without our knowledge.

The prefrontal cortex area controls your cognitive behavior, decision-making and even appropriate social behavior.

That’s just the start of it.  These changes convert into pain sensitivity, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, etc.  Alcohol and drug use and abuse are frequent occurrences as well in the attempt to self-medicate and cope with all that one is dealing with.  As you can see, it’s not just a simple bad memory but your world being turned completely out of control.

 

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If you’ve had symptoms like these, please find someone to talk to and know that you’re not alone.  If you know someone who is having these issues, please give them the help and empathy they need to deal with it.  Know that they have to heal in their own time.  There is no schedule, no cure, no pill they can take to make it go away, just time, support and understanding.

June is PTSD awareness month, and I’m so glad that it’s getting a bit of a spotlight, but knowing exactly what it is, is crucial to dealing with it.  So please, share the word.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Diet and Routine Can Affect Your Symptoms

Approximately 1.3 million Americans, mostly women, are affected by rheumatoid arthritis.  RA is a long-term chronic autoimmune disease that is treatable, but not curable.

For some, the disease can go into remission periods, while for others the disease is a constant presence in their lives especially as it progresses.  RA causes moderate to severe pain as it destroys and disfigures the joints in the body; symptoms can be exacerbated by “triggers”.

Although rheumatoid arthritis can involve different parts the body, joints are always affected. When the disease acts up, joints become inflamed. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or other threats, but in rheumatoid arthritis inflammation occurs inappropriately and for unknown reasons.

Strong medication can help, but knowing what things can trigger your symptoms can be your first line of defense in keeping the disease under control and pain manageable.  In the big picture, these play minor roles in RA in comparison to taking the right medication for instance, but a whole body approach is always best in managing disease rather than expecting one specific treatment or medication to manage it entirely.

Smoking

One factor that affects RA is smoking, says Susan Goodman, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.  “Smoking clearly has an impact—it makes it worse and increases the likelihood of getting it,” she says.

RA nonsmokers have fewer swollen, painful joints than smokers, research suggests. RA smokers are three times as likely to have rheumatoid factor—a sign of more severe disease—and twice as likely to have joint damage.

Coffee

The link between coffee or tea and RA is debatable. Research has suggested that decaf coffee (four or more cups a day) can increase the risk of getting RA, but caffeinated coffee has no impact, and tea may reduce risk. Other research found no correlation between decaf and RA.

One issue, though, is that coffee may make some RA medications, such as methotrexate, less potent, therefore limiting its effectiveness.

Weather

While research on the topic is few and far between, there does seem to be a link between weather and RA symptoms. It is likely that barometric pressure and temperature changes have the biggest impact on symptoms because it affects the swelling of the joints.

As with many conditions, any change in climate tends to worsen symptoms—so RA patients may fare better when the weather is more consistent.

Seasonal allergies

As with the other factors on the list, the link between RA and allergies may vary from person to person.

Still, there is some research that suggests that people with RA are less likely to have hay fever. And people who do have both may have less-severe RA symptoms.

“My guess is that some of the allergy medications may help with some (RA) symptomatic therapy,” Dr. Goodman says. “Or it could just be that people notice RA symptoms less because they are so distracted and miserable with their allergies.”

Another possible answer is that the histamines from the allergies or the antihistamines taken for treatment could play a role as well.

Alcohol

In a recent study in the journal Rheumatology, researchers asked about 1,800 people about their alcohol-drinking habits and RA.

They found that people who had at least one drink three or more days a week were four times less likely to have RA than nondrinkers.   Also, RA patients who did drink tended to have milder symptoms than those who didn’t.

Add a glass of wine with dinner a few nights a week and see if you experience added relief.

Vitamin D

The link between vitamin D and RA is tricky.

Research suggests women in the northeastern U.S. are at greater risk of RA than those in sunnier regions. Lack of sun can cause vitamin D deficiency. And vitamin D deficiency has been linked with other autoimmune diseases.

“Vitamin D has a lot of interesting immune effects and metabolic effects and is critical to bone health,” Dr. Goodman says. “Whether taking vitamin D will delay the onset or prevent it seems less clear-cut, but it is an important part of overall bone health.”

Pregnancy

It’s tough to predict the impact of pregnancy on RA. Women generally stop taking medication in pregnancy because the drugs may hurt the fetus.

For some, RA symptoms improve or even go into remission, Dr. Goodman says. She attributes this to the fact that the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy.

But others can experience even more pain than they normally do. And those who have a great pregnancy can have a flare-up after they give birth.

Breast-feeding

There are many benefits to breast-feeding, including a possible reduction in RA risk.

A 2004 study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism found that, compared to women who didn’t breast-feed, those who spent a total of one to two years breast-feeding had a 20% lower chance of getting RA. Those who did for two years or more had a 50% reduced risk.

A 2008 Swedish study showed similar results. Breast-feeding for up to one year was associated with a 25% reduced risk, and breast-feeding for 13 months or more was linked to a 50% reduction in risk.

Hormones/contraceptives

The data is a bit up in the air when it comes to hormones and RA.  Studies have not found a link between contraceptives and the risk of RA or the severity of disease.   A 2004 study found that women with irregular menstrual cycles do have a higher RA risk.

“The data aren’t completely clear” on this topic, Dr. Goodman says. But hormones may play a role in reducing symptoms. “There is no question that estrogen can decrease pain, so part of some of the perimenopausal flares may be caused by estrogen withdrawal.”

Cold/flu

There seems to be an anecdotal link between the flu and worsening RA symptoms. And the flu can be especially dangerous for people taking medication that weakens the immune system, which includes most of the drugs used to treat RA.

The CDC recommends flu shots for people with RA. (But not nasal-spray flu vaccines, which contain live viruses.)  One note of caution: Certain RA medications—methotrexate, prednisone, and rituximab—may lower the effectiveness of flu shots.

Arthritis Today

Shed extra pounds

If you’re overweight, losing those excess pounds may take some of the pressure off of your joints.  “If I have a patient with RA who’s overweight and loses 10 pounds, every time he takes a forceful step forward, that’s 30 pounds less on weight-bearing joints [such as the hips and knees],” says Dr. Hadler.

What’s more, it may also improve quality of life. A 2006 study found that overweight and normal weight people with RA had a higher quality of life than those who were obese.

Eat omega-3’s

Several studies suggest that people with RA may benefit from fish oil supplements, which contain inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.   RA patients are also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, and fish oil is thought to be good for the heart too.

However, studies suggest that you need to get 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (a 4-ounce piece of salmon has a little over 2 grams) for 12 weeks, which could get pricey or the diet hard to maintain.

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Make it Mediterranean

In a 2003 Swedish study, people with RA who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetable, cereals, legumes, and olive oil for three months experienced improved physical functioning and vitality when compared to RA patients who did not.

The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis long-term are still unclear, but including more fruits and vegetables in your diet isn’t a bad idea.

Consider a vegetarian diet

At least one study found that people who ate a vegetarian or vegan diet reported an improvement in RA symptoms, including pain score, morning stiffness, and grip strength compared to those who didn’t.

However, because these diets are restrictive, many of the participants were unable to maintain them for the year long study period.

If you can’t give up meat, then at least try to get a few more greens on your plate. The antioxidants, such as those found in green peas, bell peppers, and broccoli, may protect against tissue damage around the joints caused by free radicals.

Check your vitamins

Some evidence suggests certain nutrients may help patients with RA. For example, some studies showed that vitamin E supplements reduce RA joint destruction and pain, while others do not.

Selenium levels are also thought to be too low in some people with RA. However, only one study has found that selenium reduced swollen joints and stiffness, and it also involved fish oil supplementation, so it’s difficult to determine if selenium can help reduce RA symptoms.

In addition, some RA patients take methotrexate to slow disease progression.  But the drug also inhibits folic acid metabolism and causes a range of side effects, including mouth sores, says Dr. Hadler. He suggests folic acid supplements to decrease these adverse effects.

Find out about allergies

Food allergies, especially to dairy and shrimp, may aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Some people try elimination diets, which involves removing all potential allergens from the diet and slowly adding these foods back to see if they trigger symptoms.

Studies have tested whether exposing patients to foods that had previously upset their RA consistently worsened their symptoms. “You get a smidgen of a hint that food aggravates symptoms,” says Dr. Hadler.

But he explains that there’s tremendous variation within any individual’s symptoms in a given time period, making it difficult to study the effects of elimination diets.

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Vanilla Mint Honey Scrub

by Erin of Mountain Rose Herbs

This body scrub is so easy to make and smells amazing. It leaves your skin feeling refreshed but not too minty as the soft vanilla bean aroma lightly perfumes your skin. Honey is a luxurious ingredient that helps moisturize, nourish, and protect the skin with its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and humectant properties. In fact, I love to use honey alone as a face mask several times a month. If you’re collecting recipes for this year’s herbal handmade holiday gifts, this one will be perfect for the vanilla lovers out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine sea salt or fine organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic sweet almond oil
  • 1/4 cup raw organic honey
  • 1 organic vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 10 drops organic peppermint essential oil
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract (optional)

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Directions

  • Mix the salt or sugar with the oil, scraped vanilla bean pulp, and honey.
  • Add essential oil and stir. If too oily, add more salt or sugar until you reach the desired grainy paste consistency.
  • Scoop into a jar with the split vanilla bean on the bottom for a decorative touch and screw the lid on tight.
  • Use a tablespoon of scrub at a time and rub the paste in your palms until loosened.
  • Gently massage into wet skin and rinse after 2-5 minutes. Your skin will feel exfoliated and moisturized!

Get everything you need here at Mountain Rose Herbs!

Purveyors of fine herbal products

Baby Reflexology

Knowing where to massage your baby to give relief, or even apply (very, very diluted) essential oils can make all the difference in your baby’s care and comfort.  Knowing that you can make your baby feel better can make all the difference in your peace of mind as well.

 

Baby Reflexology

Peppermint

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Peppermint’s origin is a mystery but has been around a long time.  Dried leaves were even found in the Egyptian pyramids!

While it was highly valued by the ancient Romans and Greeks, it didn’t become popular in Western Europe until the 18th century.
 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

It’s key actions including the ability to increase sweating, relieve muscle spasms, stimulation of the secretion of bile and as an antiseptic.  As an oil it is strongly antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, cooling and also has anesthetic affect on the skin in spite of it being an irritant.  The whole plant has an antispasmodic effect on the digestive system and in clinical trials during the 1990’s confirmed it’s value in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
 
Peppermint is excellent for the digestive system, increasing the flow of digestive juices and bile and relaxes the muscles of the gut.  it reduces cramps, gas and colic and helps in soothing an irritable bowel.  In the process of soothing the lining and muscles of the colon, it helps diarrhea and relieves a spastic colon, which is often the cause of constipation.
 
Applied to the skin, peppermint reduces sensitivity and relieves pain.  It also aids in the relief of headaches and migraines linked to digestive weakness.  It’s like an instant ice pack on the temples and the back of the neck.
 

Diluted oil is used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections.  The whole herb is important for digestive infections. Do not give peppermint to children under 5 and as an essential oil should not be taken internally except under professional supervision.
And of course everyone’s favorite use besides candy canes?  Spiders hate peppermint!

Find Your Wealth Within

Buddha health quote

Some People Are So Poor All They Have Is Money

Wealth of Trees

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”  – Kathryn Stockett, The Help