Category Archives: Health & Beauty

Simple Fixes Can Make All The Difference

I’ve got to say, I was damn near having PTSD flashbacks watching this man walk. That’s exactly what shape I was in twenty years ago.  You don’t feel the pain as part of the memory,  but you just hunch your shoulders, tighten your muscles and hold your breath due to a combination muscle memory and fear… you fear that pain.  Once you know it, there’s no joking about it, and the thought of going back there can be absolutely paralyzing.

 

The pain was so excruciating, it felt like lightning strikes from even the slightest move in the wrong direction.  If you put your right hand on your hip, that little dip where your thumb is resting was the point of origin for the pain and it went straight down my leg.

 

My primary care doctor just kept handing me pills… 40 mg Oxycontin three times a day, which I kept telling them that they weren’t working, but that was the new miracle drug on the scene then so in their opinion it was about finding the right dosage, no matter how high the dosage or how often it was taken because it couldn’t NOT work; it was a miracle after all, right?
I was given Percocet for breakthrough pain (which was incredibly necessary since it was ALL breakthrough pain!) but still mixed with the Oxycontin I was taking.  Parkinson’s meds for the restless leg caused by a herniated disc,  Klonopin because the pain caused me to be really anxious (go figure) and a host of more pharmaceutical granola, including the 150 mg of Zoloft I was taking twice a day mainly due to the pain meds and my Depo-Provera shots.  I didn’t find out about Depo causing extreme depression until 7 years later.

 

No one thought to look at my neck even though they all knew what had happened to me in an earlier accident and the damage that was done.  It’s been twenty years and I’m still dealing with the nerve and muscle damage in my neck and left trapezius muscle.  At least now I know if this ever starts up again that the ice pack needs to go on my neck, not on my the back of my hip.

This really reinforces my dislike for allopathic practices, they treat the symptoms, they don’t work towards finding definitive answers regarding causative issues and never work towards curing or helping the body learn to help itself.  Holistic approaches, treating the patient instead of the symptom, homeopathic remedies that take so little to do so much with no side effects, addictions, OD’s, etc.  Considering the opioid problem we’re having in this country you’d think they’d shy away from things that are addictive or that you can OD from.

 

My gallbladder went rogue a couple of years ago and became my enemy.  It took me a week of pain so severe that I was ready to die. The pain was so severe that it grossly exceeded my natural childbirth.  I had a high fever joined with pain meds which caused me to hallucinate or pass out with horrific nightmares – that included feeling the pain from within the events of the nightmare.  If it was a choice of staying in the bed to die or going down the mile long gravel road that rattled your teeth loose that would cause even more pain, I was ready to die in that bed.

I finally had a brief window where the pain had subsided so I asked my roommate at the time to take me to the ER where they admitted me immediately.  Once the antibiotics started doing their job, the pain subsided as it should have (thank God!) and I didn’t need a whole lot of pain meds.  I asked for a couple Tylenol and was instead given a shot of morphine!  Why?  Because it was easier for the staff.  And again, it was over-medicating instead of dealing with the patient (in this case me) to see what’s going on instead of assuming.  I finally told them then to mark my chart to say that I am allergic to morphine to keep them from doing it again.

 

Watching that video, all I could think was how much pain I would have been spared, how much time that Kid wouldn’t have been so neglected as a result, and that still throws shadows on our relationship to this day.  How many people could be treated differently, not only with dignity but in partnership with their doctor to actively work together to solve or treat things to achieve the best outcomes for the patients?  I have fibromyalgia and talk to anyone who has it and they can tell you about the disrespect and mistreatment and/or lack of treatment that they have had because of it.

This country needs to stop being grabbed by the  ______  from the pharmaceutical companies that want us on multiple pills so they make multiple sales, and push for treatment because a cure doesn’t help their bottom line in perpetuity.

We need to be seen as patients, not as symptoms.  We’re not a pile of disconnected body parts, we’re all connected, and it means that we shouldn’t be treated as a series of separate body parts.  Maybe then we can return quality of live and work on being a healthier country overall.

 

We’ll talk again soon, 
Maggie  

 
 

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We’re Suffering and It’s Real, Too Real In Fact

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Once again I saw another human at the end of their rope because a friend, loved one, co-worker or any other allegedly sentient being on the planet did a number on them about their fibromyalgia.  

The stories are always the same… “you’re an attention seeker”, “you’re lazy and trying to get out of _____”, “it’s not really *a thing*, it’s just lazy doctors who want to dump people in a pile when they don’t want to find out what’s *really* wrong with you – or – there’s nothing wrong with you, everyone feels that way from time to time.”

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Speaking on behalf of our brothers and sisters, here and across the globe. Our pain and symptoms are very real, regardless if you “buy it” or not.  We do not need you to be patronizing, to offer us lip service, telling us what *you think* we want to hear, or have you be downright defiant and dismissive of what we are going through by claiming it to be “all in your head”, or that it’s a “b*llsh*t excuse the doctors use when they don’t know what’s wrong. To some degree. that last one is correct.  

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Doctors used to write off symptoms that they could not find the root cause, lumping them in a pile named fibromyalgia.  As a result, what’s happened is that someone finally noticed similarities in all of the patients’ symptoms in that pile. After that, they started recognizing that this is a real, somewhat treatable, currently incurable disease/condition.   It is unknown as to whether the cause of the symptoms are in the nerves or if it is in an area of the brain sending wrong signals which cause our symptoms or environmental sources. I’m inclined to believe it is the latter two, but I don’t know any more than anyone else.

Why are some people allergic to something and some else, even in their own family sometimes, are able to binge on.  I was born with several health problems including a severe intolerance to lactose and in those days (no old jokes please) there weren’t the options that there are now.  My sister came along 5 years later, spent 3-4 days a week in the hospital under an oxygen tent.  Once they were afraid that her heart could wind up damaged from all the epinephrine they were giving her, they finally agreed to allergy testing.

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Out of the 204 things that she was tested for, thankfully she was *only* allergic to… 196 of them.  Only… sheesh.  And guess what, none of ours overlapped and still haven’t.  I have spinal diseases, she had cancer,  She’s allergic to morphine and it doesn’t even work for me.  The list of differences goes on an on.   The same is true for fibro, we’re all alike, and we’re all different.

I read somewhere that fibro can be caused by a traumatic experience where you got hurt. For me that makes total sense, that’s when mine reared its ugly head, but you could put 200 people in a room and only perhaps  7% of us would be able to point to it as when fibro walked into our lives like a person you can’t stand who now won’t leave your house.

Read More about the
100 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Personally, I think we’re all f*cked to some degree because we are all members of what I refer to as  the Pop-Tart generation. So many things were not on the landscape until the 60’s with the ‘fortified with  vitamins and minerals”, why did it need to be fortified in the first place? Pop-Tarts were fortified with 5 vitamins when they started and now it’s 16 and calcium and fiber? Why was Tang nutritionally better than orange juice? Cold cereal was introduced, prior to this it was oatmeal, Cream-of-Wheat or grits, and we all know what the ingredient list looks like on the side of the box of cereal.  We started running public water to more families, fluoridated of course. Our bodies have been beaten like a bad boxer with no end in sight.  

We need acceptance, acknowledgment, better treatment, and a hope for a cure. Empathy and the willingness to take us our word for it won’t cost you a thing; much like manners, this is free to use and available 24/7 if you choose.

Thanks for listening

Maggie ॐ 
“Art and Giving are Food for the Soul”​

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!