How about Stinging Nettles?

Gentle Reader,

If I could tell you why some days I wake up with no pain whatsoever– like today– and catalog the food I ate yesterday, the stretches I made, the delicious sleep, the supplements, the aerobic activity—why surely I would have a recipe for a pain free life.  I cannot. I cross country skied on Wednesday; stayed up too late fussing over numbers; ate on the run, albeit extra nutritious homemade vegetable-drawer soup; got tied up in knots over the traffic delays.  You know the drill.  I took no herbal pain pills today and no Aleve.  Instead of analyzing the good things in life that seem to happen randomly, I suggest robust all out celebration and thanksgiving.

I will offer you some spicy advice that came to me from a good friend who faithfully reads these pages and a few others from the web which she passes on to me when relevant.  I especially appreciated her reprint from NaturalNews.  Since I harvested stinging nettles on my walk Tuesday, being careful to wear gardening gloves, I am eager to eat them and see what they do for me. See the article below for details.  Stinging nettles are abundant in the northwest right now, small plants with tender leaves.  All the sting goes away with cooking.  If you try it, let me know how it goes. It’s inexpensive to try these natural remedies from the kitchen cupboard, way-side and grocery store.

Relieve arthritis and joint pain with home remedies

 (NaturalNews) Homemade remedies for arthritis, gout and other joint pain are never farther away than the kitchen cupboard or the refrigerator. Joint disease is the result of various causes ranging from aging, to over-use and autoimmune diseases that attack joints and surrounding tissue. Pharmaceutical companies have designer drugs that reduce inflammation to help relieve pain and often cause significant side effects. The ingredients for homemade remedies can be purchased at grocery and health food stores and many may already be stocked in your pantry, offering significant savings over costly pharmaceutical drugs.

Anti-Inflammatory triad

On their own, turmeric, ginger and bromelain work as effective anti-inflammatory agents. Each works to relieve pain, stiffness and swelling. In combination, they provide a powerhouse of natural medicine. The three substances are synergistic to one another, each boosting the other’s effectiveness…

Stinging nettles

Homemade remedies from stinging nettles are numerous. A traditional herbal treatment, stinging nettles are used to relieve symptoms of joint pain, arthritis and gout. A tea can be made from the dried herb or the fresh leaves. Use caution and wear gloves if harvesting fresh nettles. As their name implies, the little hairs on the plant can cause serious skin reactions including hives and other painful outbreaks. These are neutralized when heated into tea or when the plant is dried. The tea can be consumed hot or cold or used as a topical soak for painful joints.

Cayenne pepper

Found in most spice cupboards and known for its spicy-hot taste, cayenne makes an excellent topical ointment that relieves joint pain. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, tricks the brain by causing local irritation to skin where signals then travel along nerve pathways, distracting the brain from the true source of pain. In time, repeated topical applications of cayenne pepper will reduce arthritis pain significantly. To make topical homemade remedies, mix 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper with 1/2 cup of cocoa butter, lanolin or coconut oil. Apply it directly to the sore joint. Alternatively, mix 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and add to a foot bath with warm water. Soak hands or feet for 20 minutes, then rinse. Cayenne pepper can cause skin irritation.  (I have not tried this, so go forward at your own risk.)

Pectin Grape Juice

Homemade remedies made from fruit pectin and grape juice can relieve joint pain, and reduce swelling and stiffness. Pectin is found in the cells of many plants and acts as a thickener in preparations such as jellies. Grape juice is loaded with antioxidants, among them, anthocyanins, noted for its effect on reducing inflammation. Pectin regulates the flow of fluids in plant cells and is believed to act to relieve fluid buildup in the joints of arthritis sufferers. The best pectin is found at the health food stores and is free of MSG and other additives. Mix 1/2 cup of juice with 2 tablespoons pectin. Add water if needed and drink twice daily for 6 weeks. Reduce the frequency as symptoms disappear.

Sources for this article include:

DermNetNZ: Capsaicin
http://dermnetnz.org/treatments/capsaicin.html

Holistic Online: Tumeric
http://www.holisticonline.com

Science Daily: Turmeric Prevents Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis, Bone Loss
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030071152.htm

MotherNature.com: Arthritis and Alternative Medicine
http://www.mothernature.com/Library/bookshelf/Books/42/1.cfm

Joint-Pain.com: Natural Arthritis Treatments
http://www.joint-pain.com/natural-arthritis-treatments.html

The People’s Pharmacy: Pectin for Arthritis Pain
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/31/pectin-for-arthritis-pain/

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Health4U

206 933 1889

www.HiHoHealth dot com

www.TiredNoMore dot com

 

 

Ankle replacement? How bad is it?

 

Gentle Reader,

 

Have you dried off from your most recent visit to the Y’s water aerobics for arthritics?  Not there yet?  Today I want to share information about replacing those joints that just keep hurting so much that you prefer to sit or lie down rather than try to move through the pain.  My favorite website for the latest procedures is Johns Hopkins Medicine.  This week they have an article about ankle replacement.  Replace your ankles?  Oh, my goodness.  It would have to be really bad before I’d do that.

 

My own experience with arthritis in the ankles came as a result of breaking the left ankle while cross country skiing in 1997. The snow conditions were our usual white cement so often prevalent in the Cascade mountains.  The Women on Wednesday group I ski with had chosen the Swan Lake trail that begins along Lake Kachess and then rises through twists and turns to an upper plateau. We have never made it to Swan Lake. It must be there somewhere.  Our ski day usually begins with a couple hours of climbing on skis, then lunch in a nice trail side spot, followed by another 20 minutes uphill to warm up.  Then we usually turn around and come down.  These logging roads are never groomed except by the occasional  snow mobile.  Snow mobiles can create moguls that make skiing even more challenging than breaking trail.  If the uphill has been through new snow, even cement (heavy) snow, the downhill can go quite well.  On the particular day of the breakage, I was doing my usual fast downhill and on one curve, planted the tip of my left ski squarely into a snow bank.  My body continued on.  I could hear the snap.

 

It was possible to ski out the remaining 4 miles or so by keeping the left leg slightly bent and the foot rigid in the boot, using the polls and right ski to snow plow.  On the bus, a fellow skier and nurse, filled a sandwich bag with snow and wrapped my ankle with an emergency tape.

 

The next day, an x-ray revealed a hair line fracture which they cast. I was in this non-weight baring thing for 60 days and a walking boot for another 30 days.  I worked hard to keep the muscles functional with all sorts of floor exercises including leg lifts in all directions, and was ready to walk as soon as they gave the go ahead.

 

Now, fifteen years later, I am getting little twinges when setting off on a hike or long city walk.  Do I stop?  Is it harmful to keep going?  I can report that I may slow down a bit, exercise great care in foot placement and gait, and above all keep going.  So far so good.  The pain doesn’t stop me and the ankle is still functioning well.  Will it get worse?  Probably.  Will I go for surgery someday?  Who knows.  I would recommend doing every possible thing before going there.  If you do read the article at the link, you’ll see that people have good results.  Are they hikers, cyclists, climbers?  Or are they people who just want to be able to walk around their house when the pain has become so unbearable they are confined to a chair?

 

Osteoarthritis and arthritis caused by injury often come down to the same thing as one ages.  I prefer to take hands full of supportive supplements to 3 Advil because I am sure that the supplements strengthen tissue and feed cells for better all over health.  Advil will mask the pain for sure.  It is pretty conclusive that vitamins, minerals and protein build healthy tendons, muscles and bone.  There may still be pain.  Try an herbal pain inhibitor first.  Shaklee makes a good one.  If you want to explore these, go to HiHoHealth dot com.  We have a Pain Relief page there.

 

The Johns Hopkins site on arthritis gives good information about the other joint replacements as well.  Good luck if you are facing this decision.  If you want to talk more about your options with a person who has been dealing with arthritis for 35 years, I’d love to hear from you at 206 933 1889.  If you would like to comment, please do.

 

Do well, Be well and Keep Moving,

 

Betsy

 

 

 

The Fat Trap

Dear Reader,

I have been thinking a lot about weight and arthritis, about weight loss and how challenging it is to begin and maintain a healthier relationship to food.  In my last post, I talked about the study that found our hypothalamus may be running the show.  If this regulating organ has been damaged by a long term diet of too rich food, is it possible to ever heal it and establish a new normal for ourselves?

Perhaps you saw this article in the New York Times on January 1, written by Tana Parker Pope.  I recommend it to you.  She has struggled with extra weight for years and takes heart and hope from the understanding she has about the hypothalamus and the possibility of actually changing its messaging system.

I am going to leave you with this long article from the NYTimes.  I would love to hear your reaction to it.  Please share.

Are you engaging in any winter sport?  I enjoyed my first day on cross country skis this past Wednesday and managed a pain free day with 2 Aleve at breakfast.  Thursday morning wasn’t bad either, maybe because I took a protein sports recovery drink with me and drank it on the bus coming home and again before bed.  The one I use is called Physique and is made by Shaklee.  It repairs torn muscle with the proteins, vitamins and minerals in it.  Thursday night I could feel a stiffening up and did some of my Pilates floor exercises before hottub and bed and this morning did a big routine of Feldenkrais, Pilates, weight lifting and other stretching and then took a long walk including a stair case with 190 treads.  All this helped keep me from arthritis pain.

What is your routine after a work out?  BTW when you climb stairs try walking up sideways, facing the railing, right shoulder toward to top.  Lift the left leg and place it on the step above crossing the right.  Then, weight on the left foot, step up with the right still  facing the railing.  Next step with the left foot, swing it behind and up.  You are going up the stairs with the left foot traveling in front and then in back and then in front.  Then turn to face the left shoulder to the top and do the weave with the right leg. This strengthens the sides of the knees.  We girls hurt our knees by always walking straight up the stairs because we are just slightly (sometimes more than slightly) knock kneed.  This stair climbing (and descending) greatly strengthens the muscles and tendons along the sides.  Do this slowly, planting your foot solidly and lifting with the thigh engaged instead of heaving the body up with the shoulders.  Make the legs and side knees work for you.  I may have described this in an earlier blog when I was talking about my training program for climbing Mt. Shasta.   If you try this, let me know how it goes.

Good luck and keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.TiredNoMore. com

 

The 2nd most popular New Year’s resolution and the power of excuses: guess writer Lisa Stubing

Dear Reader,  I have mentioned this energetic trainer, Lisa Stuebing in a former blog post. She and I walked the 3 miles around Greenlake at a quick pace.  I was impressed with Lisa’s own story of sitting at a desk most of her professional life and slowed putting on weight and losing mobility.  You should see her now.  She’s slim and agile.  I asked her to write a post to share with all my readers.  Here it is:

The Second Most Popular New Year’s Resolution and the Positive Power of Excuses

Adapted from a speech given at the 12th Annual World Arthritis Day in Redmond, WA.  October 2011.

Lisa Stuebing, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, Owner, Mud Puddle Fitness, LLC

Did you know that the Second-Most-Popular -New-Year’s-Resolution-Of-All-Time is to become more fit?  And yet, we often make the same resolution the following year.  If you have arthritis, you have an extra challenge to keeping this resolution.  Fortunately, you also have ready access to a powerful resource to ensure your success.

This essay is about the positive power of making excuses.  Excuses are important.  Now is the time to recognize that your excuses have strength and depth and validity.

Researchers find that three barriers to success recur over and over. 1.) Embarrassment, 2.) Procrastination,  and 3.) Fear of injury.  These well-funded longitudinal studies have included thousands of participants who in turn represent millions of excuse makers.  They were conducted by reputable institutions like the Mayo Clinic, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Institute of Health.

  1. EMBARASSMENT

Do you put off going to the pool until after you look good?  Have you walked into a gym tried out some equipment and goose-stepped out of there because you didn’t want people you didn’t really know how to use it?  Discouragement is a powerful inhibitor.  Which leads us to the second big excuse honest people have for not getting regular exercise.

 

  1. PROCRASTINATION

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”
– Don Marquis

 

What keeps you inside?

In a London study, 64% of the participants simply did not know what a good work out was supposed to feel like.  So, they avoided it.  Learning what is normal and what’s not normal takes time.    It takes practice.  When you are getting the right amount of exercise, during the best part of your day – you will build up your stamina.  You will feel better and even energized at some level.  And, yes, you will feel a little tired.

Finally, there is another big reason people tend to stay away from exercise.

 

  1. FEAR OF INJURY

People worry that because they are not athletes already that they will hurt themselves. 

If you have arthritis, be a careful consumer of information.  There is still a lot of bad information out there.  You can still find literature that will tell you that exercise is not good for you.  The old thinking is that physical activity will damage joints and make arthritis worse.

In reality, multiple studies have clearly shown that appropriate exercise for people with arthritis leads to better flexibility, strength and endurance.  It also leads to less pain, fatigue and depression.

ACKNOWLEGE YOUR EXCUSES AND THEN TACKLE THEM ONE BY ONE

Find people who are doing fun stuff and do it with them.   Laughing together is the best antidote for embarrassment.

Build up your knowledge and stamina one day at a time.  The key is to start small and pace yourself — If you are going to take up cross country skiing – start with a small country.

Finally, if you have arthritis, know that hurt does not always equal harm.  Take an Arthritis Foundation “Walk with Ease” class and learn to reduce your pain while getting fit.

Enroll in an Arthritis Foundation, “Walk with Ease” class

Take an Arthritis Foundation “Walk with Ease” class and you will learn how to set realistic goals.  You will learn how to measure your progress.  You will feel more energized because you will know the best time to exercise and how much exercise is right for you.  You’ll meet new people and have tons of fun.

The Walk with Ease Course was developed by the Stanford University Patient Education Research Center.

The efficacy of the program was tested, studied and reviewed by the University of North Carolina in collaboration with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the University’s Institute on Aging.

The program’s published materials were made possible, in part, with funds from the Center for Disease Control.

In my professional opinion, the most important thing the Walk with Ease program teaches is an understanding of your pain.  Hurt does not always equal harm.  Sometimes, moving when you didn’t really want to, results in actually feeling better.  This isn’t all hocus pocus – this is about focus.  Focusing on you, testing yourself and then understanding the result.  I think this takes the entire six weeks to learn and apply the program.  And the bonus is, by the end of all 18 class sessions – you will have made a pleasant habit of joining friends for a little fun exercise.  Some classmates get together long after the class had ended.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, there are three steps to take.  1.)  Work with yourself, understand your reluctance to plunge into a planned exercise routine and give yourself a break.  Your concerns are real and based on a lifetime of personal observations.  Be honest with yourself and then take the next step.  2.)  Educate yourself; take the Arthritis Foundation’s “Walk with Ease”. Learn when exercise will reduce your pain and how to make that happen.  Finally,  3.) Include yourself – join others for group activities.  Invite friends out for a walk.  Having fun with friends is your best chance of sticking with and enjoying a lifelong habit of exercise.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Let me know how you do!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Coach Lisa

Lisa Stuebing
Owner, Mud Puddle Fitness, LLC
Nationally Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist

www.MudPuddleFitness.com

CoachLisa@MudPuddleFitness.com

206-524-6788

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diet, Medicine and Supplements for Arthritis, the back story

Gentle Reader,

Before going into dietary suggestions, I want to share how I came to hold the beliefs and attitudes I have about allopathic medicine.

My father was an Orthopedist.  My mother was a nurse.  They believed in the miracles of medicine.  Mother worked for a General Practitioner during a New York City outbreak of the flu in the 30’s.  It was nothing like the great Pandemic that swallowed up between 20 and 40 million people, but she and her doctor never saw their whole list of patients in a day’s work.  When my parents met at the still new Morrisania Hospital complex in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, he was an intern, she a nurse.  Beginning married life in the Great Depression, theirs was a youthful enthusiasm for life, for medicine as a burgeoning panacea, for a future for any hard working person.

By the invasion of Normandy, recently discovered penicillin would save thousands who might otherwise have died of infection.  He would have had penicillin in his kit on board the USS Boise in the South Pacific where he was a navy doctor from 1942-45.  Before the war, practicing from his office in our home in West Chester County, NY my father became involved in the debilitating and wide spread polio epidemics of the late 1930s, early pre-war and on into the 50s years.  I remember his lecturing to parent groups and civic leaders about good diet and rest.  He encouraged people to continue to mingle in public places, but not large crowded movie theaters or swimming pools.  He felt isolation prevented the buildup of immunity.  He took me and my brother on home visits to polio patients, mostly children, expecting us to get exposed and build immunity.  Imagine his excitement when the poliovirus vaccine against polio wiped out this disease in the later 50s.  Much of his work in New York and later in Oklahoma beginning in 1947 was with polio victims and their rehabilitation through therapies and prosthetics.

I recount this history to get a better understanding myself of the enthusiastic embrace of pharmaceutical breakthroughs on the part of my parents.  Unfortunately my father’s excitement over each new drug led to indiscriminant experimentation with himself and his children. The largest drawer in the bathroom cabinet was filled with physician’s samples.  At the slightest sniffle, I would be offered the latest anti-biotic.  One such drug caused my first arthritis.

I was in high school, a competitive swimmer and when I came down with a serious sinus infection and was unable to continue swim practice, he gave me several doses of a new drug.  Unfortunately it settled in the synovial fluid of my knees causing pain especially when sitting in the back seat of a 2 door car or balcony seats in the theater.  Folding my legs tight was extremely painful.   I used aspirin for relief, carrying a bottle in my purse and often eating several tablets without benefit of water.

I deviate to tell you a little story about drugs and the Johnson family.  My brother Eric and I raised white Leghorn chickens for a 4H project.  The county extension agent recommended growth hormones.  This is the 50s when better living through chemistry was heralded on every side.  My brother decided he could hurry his growth by drinking one of the vials himself.  He was about 12 at the time.

Sometime during college my knee pain subsided somewhat, but residual creaking persisted.  Nothing stopped me from an active life of biking, swimming, walking, dancing and anything else where movement was involved.  There was always a bottle of aspirin in my purse.

Winters were tough on me.  I often had colds that descended to the chest, became bronchitis and required antibiotics.  A typical winter saw three rounds of colds, bronchitis and antibiotics.  Following my father’s model, at the first sign of the sniffles, I started taking Coricidin, drying up the natural response to a cold virus.

This cycle happened year after year until my senior year in high school, my sinus condition became so severe, and I begged my father to take me to a specialist in Oklahoma City.  It was a 4 ½ hour drive and a full day away from his own medical practice.  I remember sitting next to him in the front seat of our Nash station wagon, feeling special that he would make this effort on my behalf.  I am sure I had been a willing user of all the drugs he had offered me over the years.  After the office visit and some diagnostic procedure like today’s nasal endoscopy, the specialist told me there was nothing that could be done surgically.  I should give up swimming and certainly never dive into the water.

Medicine could not perform the magic I wanted.  My disappointment was profound.  I would not give up swimming.  I would wear ear plugs and a nose clamp, taking precautions.  Within three inactive winter months, I had gained 25 pounds.  No one noticed until one day a Doncaster clothing representative had set up his wares in our living room for my mother and several of her friends.  Mother urged me to try on several stylish slim fitting long skirts from his model size 12.  When I could not close the zipper, standing there in my bra and panties, she all but shrieked at the sight of me, belly too large with angry stretch marks running diagonally in two tracks down each side.  Now that I was the object of close inspection, further stretch marks were discovered on my breasts, buttocks and thighs.

This humiliation was reported dramatically at the breakfast table the next morning.  My father laid down the gauntlet, my two younger brothers cheering him on.  I would lose this weight.  Mother, who had slowly put on a few extra pounds, challenged me to a contest to see who could lose the most by summer.  Drugs to the rescue.  We bought boxes of those little chocolate and caramel chews laced with phenylpropanolamine – a substance the FDA has now ruled “not recognized as safe”.

What were we doing?  Lose weight without dieting.  Miracles through chemistry.

When I married Don Bell after my sophomore year in college, I was still a round person, strong, athletic, but carrying 25 extra pounds.  He gladly took over my father’s task of counting my calories and checking my weight every day.  But I needed to flex my independence from this tyranny and did so by eating a delicious double dip ice cream cone every afternoon from the shop on the University of California Berkeley campus.  After months of this indulgence, I experienced a humiliating episode of uncontrolled bowels.  I was paralyzed with cramps and loose stool as I trying to walk home from campus.  Finding a pay phone, dialing through tears, Don came to pick me up.  Tenderly sympathetic, he helped me to the bathroom where I cleaned myself up.  At an appointment with a proctologist the next week, I had to confess to the daily intake of rich creamy cones which had caused this mess.  Ice cream is not my friend.

In January of 1971, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and wheeled into the operating theater on the day my oldest of four daughters turned 10.  I made a pact that day with God that I would do everything in my power to lead a healthy life so no cancer would return.  Making sense of cancer at age 34 led me to believe all those antibiotics and other medications over the years had destroyed my own immune system’s ability to respond.  Perhaps irrational but nonetheless compelling, I decided against allopathic intervention for any illness I might develop until I had tried everything else.

Now that you have the back story for my crusade to heal the body without medicine, I will tell you what I have discovered to be helpful dietary choices and supplements.  Stay tuned.

I’d be interested in your story around medicine and medical intervention.  How do you feel about drugs?  How did you develop the attitudes you have?  Please share.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Health4U

http://www.HiHoHealth.com