Friday, December 9, 2011

Japanese Knotweed (Resveratrol)

After reading Stephen Buhner's book, "Healing Lyme", I've decided to give some of the recommended herbs a try.  My first herbal trial will be with Resveratrol.  Stephen recommends that the herb comes from Japanese Knotweed (and is not the red wine source).  After searching and searching to find the right product, I've settled on Japanese Knotweed from Dragon Botanicals.  What I like about Reseveratrol is that it has immune modulating properties, which can be helpful for a variety of conditions.  It's also good that it can regulate the immune system if it was over on under active.  What I didn't like about the antibiotics is that the idea there was just "kill, kill, kill".  The problem is, they were killing everything.  The bad bacteria, the good bacteria, and my immune system.  As someone who has been on and off antibiotics for over two years, I am definitely not against antibiotics for Lyme, but I feel that at this point in my treatment it is necessary for me to take a step back from the antibiotics.  I will definitely post my progress and my experience with the new herbal protocol.  You can read more about this protocol on Stephen's website.

According to the book, "Healing Lyme", Buhner indicates that the actions of Japanese Knotweed are as follows: antibacterial, antiviral, antischistosomal, antispirochetal, antifungal, immunostimulant, immunomodulant, antiinflammatory, angiogenesis modulator, central nervous system relaxant, central nervous system protectant and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiathersclerotic, antihyperlipidemic, antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, antineoplastic, vasodilator, inhibits platlet aggregation, inhibits eicosanoid synthesis, antithrombotic, tyrosine kinase inhibitor, oncogene inhibitor, antipyretic, cardioprotective, analgesic, antiulcer, hemostatic, and astringent. (1)

1) Buhner, Stephen. (2005) Healing Lyme. Silver City: Raven Press.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Favorite Products for the Cold & Flu Season

These are my must-haves during the cold and flu season.  In my opinion, they cut your healing time in half!  Zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C are all essentials for boosting the immune system and helping to protect against free radicals.

Gypsy Cold Care by Traditional Medicinals - uses pharmacopoeial quality herbs to create a healing blend.

Nature's Way Zinc Lozenges - tasty, sweetened with stevia, and a great way to protect yourself against free radicals during the winter.

Zand Echinacea & Zinc Herbalozenge - these taste great and have no cane sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Trader Joe's Organic Raw Honey - mix with tea or eat it raw to coat your throat.

Solgar Esater-C (500mg) - Ester-C is more easily absorbed by the body, so it increases the chance that your body will get the most from this vitamin.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Detox & Disease

Detoxification seems to be such an important component in battling Lyme disease or any chronic illness.  If your detox pathways are blocked, then you are essentially "spinning your wheels".  You want to make sure this is not the case, and that your body is functioning at max capacity.  Here are some suggestions for implementing detox into your regimen.

Products, services, & Things to try at home:
  • Infared Sauna - These saunas warm the body in the same manner as natural sunlight, but without the side effects of the sun.  This heat therapy increases circulation and stimulates the sweat glands that cleanse and detoxify the skin.  These saunas have also been reported to reduce pain and speed up the healing process.  Read about the 7 benefits of using an infared sauna.  Looking to buy one for home use?  Check out these portable devices [link 1, link 2] (I am in no way endorsing these, they have just been recommended by others).
  • Lymphatic Drainage - This is a type of massage that helps to stimulate the lymphatic system.  Many people with Lyme and other chronic illnesses (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc.) have found it to be very helpful in their recovery.  Read more about lymph drainage.
  • Skin Brushingour skin is responsible for 25% of our detoxification each day.  Body brushing stimulates the lymphatic system so the lymph can circulate through out the body and travel back to the large vessels for excretion.  Read more about skin brushing.
  • Epsom Salt & Baking Soda Baths - These help to remove toxins from your skin.  Add 1-2 cups of salts or 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda and soak for 20-30 minutes.
  • Lemon Juice Tea - A lemon has 3x the amount of vitamin C as an orange.  Juice one lemon and pour it into a mug.  Add boiling water and a pinch of stevia.  Drink up!
  • Smilax - Many naturopaths and herbalists report that Smilax assists in binding neurotoxins to help remove them from your system more quickly and efficiently.  I use the formula from RestorMedicine, although I'm sure there are plenty of other formulas out there.
  • Green Drinks - a green powder with chlorophyll is great for helping your body to cleanse itself of toxins.  I really like Nanogreens, they've even got 10 servings of fruits & veggies mixed right in.

Some Helpful Articles (Thanks to the MDJunction Community for bringing these articles to my attention) about Lyme disease and detoxification:

Monday, November 7, 2011

In A Treatment Rut

I've been going back and forth as to what the next move in my treatment plan should be.  It seems that my body is getting sick of antibiotics- or perhaps it's just getting sick... I'm not really sure.  Since my recent bout of gastritis is really limiting the amount of healthy food I can consume, I get nervous about adding too much to my regimen.  As I see it now, here are my options:

1) Detox.  My naturopath recommended a 30-day gentle homeopathic regimen by Heel.  My body has been through a lot and has had a lot of medicine (antibiotics, antiparasitics, etc.) going into from a long period of time.  It might need a thorough cleaning....

2) Go natural.  I've been reading more about Stephen Buhner's protocol.  I've been on Cat's claw in the past and seemed to have good results.  I'm also interested in trying Teasel root after reading some of the literature on it's healing properties.  I've been on Smilax for a while now, and it seems that these three herbs combined could be quite a nice cocktail.

3) Resume the hardcore meds.  I feel that I prematurely stopped taking antibiotics before, and I relapsed...  Therefore, I'm scared of the same thing happening again.  Some experts say that you should remain on antibiotics until you are symptom-free for three months.  I am most certainly not symptom-free, and I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable taking antibiotics for as long as it may take to rid my symptoms.  BUT- I will say that my fatigue and upper back have improved since being on the antibiotic injections.  The other reason I am considering this option is because I have yet to take a cyst buster (which is necessary to kill Lyme in it's cyst form, which it often morphs into to "hide" from the body or antibiotics) while on the injections.  I think this would be a very potent, but potentially useful treatment combination.  I would need do it for at least a few months for it to be effective (since the borrelia life cycle is every 3-4 weeks).

So.... those are the options I'm left with.  For now, I think I will let my stomach call the shots.  Hopefully as that continues to heal, I'll be able to decide which one of these avenues I'm ready to take.  Ideally, I'd like to incorporate all of the above, my main concern for now is where to start.  One reason I'm leaning toward the antibiotic route is because I'd like to just power through it for a few more months and then be done with it.  Not that it will be the end of my treatment, but I'd like to be done with antibiotics.  I think my body will need to be rebalanced once I'm done killing off all of the good and bad bacteria in my body, and I'm anxious to start doing that.  It's my true belief that the body must be balanced to heal itself, and I'm looking forward to getting "balanced".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Being Smart about the Natural Approach

Many people are skeptical when it comes to treating things naturally, although it seems that may be starting to slowly change.  More and more people are reporting more failures with conventional treatments and are left to look to alternative approaches to address their needs.  Since the internet is often filled with conflicting information, here are some reliable resources to set you on the right track when treating things more naturally.

Some resources worth checking out if you're interested in a more natural or comprehensive approach:

Learn about natural medicine:
  • Medline Plus - search specific herbs & supplements to find out about potential risks, drug interactions, and proven effectiveness
Find a Naturopath:
Find a doctor who practices integrative medicine:
Find alternative healthcare providers:
  • Medfinds - Enter your search criteria and find a local practitioner or therapist
Find a massage therapist:
  • Upledger Institute - click on massage specialties (ex. craniosacral, etc.) to find a practitioner

Friday, October 14, 2011

What is EFT?

EFT stands for "Emotional Freedom Technique".  It is an alternative therapy to deal with stress, PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and more.  It is said to be helpful for many with chronic illness.

My naturopath recently recommended EFT to help with PTSD associated with my Lyme disease.  Unfortunately, when you have multiple scary episodes (physically and/or emotionally) that do not respond to conventional treatments, you can be very traumatized by these events.  That trauma sets off a cycle of fearing the recurrence of the events.  Believe me- being in excruciating and crippling pain for prolonged periods of time (without relief by medication) can really mess with your head!  Even though I thought EFT looked a little crazy when I watched some YouTube videos about it, I still decided to give it a try.  I'll try anything at least once!

EFT is also commonly referred to as the "tapping technique".  Like in acupuncture, it taps into certain meridians, and it was actually referred as "acupuncture for the emotions" by my practitioner.  So basically, there are these points that you tap while reliving a trauma or saying a predetermined thought or phrase.  If you are working on overcoming a trauma, you start of by picturing that event before you begin tapping and you rate your emotions surrounding that event on a scale of 1-10.  Your practitioner will then guide you through the trauma going through a series of thoughts and emotions that you had during your experience.  After several rounds of tapping, you will then check back in with yourself and see if your original number has changed.  You continue this process until you have "cleared" this trauma or emotion.  Below is a diagram showing the tapping points:

Here is a site that features the above diagram and provides the various steps to completing EFT.  Below is a video that shows an example of tapping:

And here is my practitioner speaking about EFT:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe of the Month - Immune Boosting Raw Smoothie

I might be a little overly ambitious for starting a recipe of the week post (and it may change to recipe of the month if I can't keep up), but I'm going to give it a try.  Mainly because I'm really trying to incorporate more vegetables into my diet and we frequently get items from our CSA share that we don't know what to do with.  This recipe serves 2-4, so I highly recommend reducing the amount of ingredients if you're only making one for yourself.

-2 apples, cored (I peel them, not sure if that is necessary though)
-2 ripe pears, cored (again, I peel them too)
-1-2 cups of water (preferably filtered)
-2 lemons, juiced
-1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
-5 kale leaves, rinsed & torn
-1/2 - 1 cup of baby spinach
-chopped or shredded cabbage

  1. Blend apple, pear, water, and lemon until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add ginger, kale, baby spinach, and cabbage and blend until smooth.
  3. Add water for a thinner consistency.  Add an extra pear or apple if it isn't sweet enough for you.
Tips & Modifications: 
*I've never used kale for this recipe because I've yet to find organic kale at a local grocery store.  
*Since the smoothie is room temperature, you might want to add some ice cubes or a few frozen berries to make it cool like a smoothie should be!  
*Don't skip the ginger- it aids your body in easily digesting this raw smoothie.

I know this might not sound like the most delicious smoothie, but I assure you it is quite tasty.  A necessity for the cold & flu season or for an every day energy boost.  The greens offer powerful phytochemicals, the cabbage is a potent food that affects many pathways in the body, ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and the lemon is rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

AIM for a CURE Melanoma Walk

Sponsor JESSICA CASSITY in AIM for a CURE Melanoma Walks

I've signed-up to participate in a Melanoma Walk/Run to raise money for melanoma research and awareness.

This cause is very important to me because II will be walking in memory of my best friend, Laura Gillespie. Laura lost her 5 year long battle with Melanoma on May 10th of this year, at the young age of 30.

I've pledged to raise at least $500 this year, but to do this, I need your help! Please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation so I can reach my goal.

Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide. It is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25-30. One person dies every 60 minutes from melanoma. You have less than a 10% chance of surviving 5 years when Melanoma is not caught in the early stages. And, there is no effective medical therapy for metastatic melanoma.

I'm taking on this challenge to do something big that will increase awareness and support research for the CURE. No one deserves to suffer and lose their life at such a young age like Laura. So, please help support this cause!

Thank you so much for you kindness, compassion, and support.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ticks & Lyme Disease

I probably should've done a post like this at the beginning of the summer, but we're headed off to go camping this weekend so I figured I should do some research about tick removal.  I've acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge about Lyme over the years, but it's primarily been focused on symptoms and treatment.  I know (from my own personal experience) that prevention and awareness are key factors... if you don't catch it early or get the proper treatment then you're likely in for a long road to recovery!

Below I've listed the 5 states with the highest incidence rates of Lyme.  Before doing that, I must mention that this information is coming from the CDC website, which is said to be highly unreliable and that the reported rates are 10 times lower than the actual number of cases (so these numbers should be multiplied by 10!).  Having said that, here are the figures for 2009:

1) Pennsylvania = 5,722
2) New York = 5,651
3) Massachusetts = 5,256
4) New Jersey = 4,973
5) Connecticut = 4,153

Although the above listed states appear to have the highest incidence rates, you can get Lyme ANYWHERE.  Cases have been confirmed in every single state!  Click here to see an interactive map of the incidence rates in the dog population.  It lets you enter your zip code and check the incidence for your county.  Be aware that they also mention that the rates are probably much higher due to underreporting!

So..... what do you do if a tick decides to latch on to you?

Here is a great video on tick removal:

And you can also check out this great step-by-step guide on how to remove a tick on the CALDA website.

Some prevention tips:
  • don't sit on tree stumps or lean up against trees
  • wear light colored clothing, ideally long sleeves and pants
  • tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks
  • when camping or hiking, walk in the middle of paths
  • consider using DEET (if you feel comfortable with it's chemical content)
  • do a tick check daily, and for several days after exposure to an environment that might have ticks
  • put your clothes in the dryer (on high) for an hour after exposure
Read more about prevention and tick removal over at CALDA.

A recipe for a make-your-own tick removal kit:
  • sandwich bag
  • gloves
  • pointed tweezers
  • alcohol pads
  • bandaids
  • neosporin 
  • another sandwich bag (in case you want to save the tick)
Or you can click here to order a tick removal kit from the Lyme Disease Foundation.

Friday, August 12, 2011

EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database - An Excellent Resource!!!

I recently stumbled across a great website that is run by the EWG.  EWG stands for Environmental Working Group and they have what they refer to as the "Skin Deep Cosmetics Database".  This database contains revealing information about many of the products that we use every day (soaps, lotions, make-up, deodorant, etc.).  The products are ranked on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the least hazardous.  There are also notations that explain whether this ranking is based on minimal research, or an abundance of research.  I like the fact that you can make your own informed decisions based on how much is truly known about a particular product or ingredient.  They also break things down into the following categories: overall hazard, cancer, developmental & reproductive toxicity, allergies & immunotoxicity, and use restrictions.  So, head on over to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and learn what you need to know about the products you use every day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Detoxify Your Body

Detoxification is a very important part of my daily life. I've learned how important it is (especially when you have a chronic illness) to eliminate toxins from your body. As I begin a new (and much more aggressive) treatment regimen, it is more important than ever for me to detox. If I am not diligent about this, the toxic load in my body can accumulate and when that happens there are many nasty side effects.

So, who should detoxify?  EVERYONE.  Why?  Because in today's society, we are constantly bombarded with chemicals that can seriously compromise our health.  Better to take preventative action now, than have to repair the damage later!  Here are some suggestions for anyone looking to detoxify:
  • Greens - green vegetables contain chlorophyll, which is a natural detoxification agent.  Chlorophyll has also been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties, as proven by a NIH study in 2007.(1)  Wheat grass shots are another great way to get your chlorophyll!
  • Dry Skin Brushing - our skin is responsible for 25% of our detoxification each day.  Body brushing stimulates the lymphatic system so the lymph can circulate through out the body and travel back to the large vessels for excretion.  To see a video about dry skin brushing, click here.
  • Epsom Salt Baths - scientifically known as hydrated magnesium sulfate, epsom salts help to promote perspiration and draw acidic waste through the pores of the skin.  (Caution: If you have high blood pressure or any heart condition, some suggest that you should not take an epsom salt bath!  Check with your doctor first.)  To read more about the benefits of epsom salt baths, you can read about it on the care2 website.
  • Glutathione - the best way to consume this product is through a liquid liposomal formula or intravenously.  Glutathione in pill form is not effective, so don't waste your money!  (An effective product example: Tri-Fortfy from Advanced Nutritionals, this a powerful glutathione-based antioxidant that acts as a detoxing agent).  Results from a 2007 study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention, shows that glutathione may enhance detoxification of carcinogens.(2)
  • Water & Fiber - adding fiber to your diet will help detoxification by promoting regularity.  If you are not regular, accumulation of toxins in the gut (and possibly in the body if you have leaky gut) is inevitable.  Drinking plenty of water is absolutely necessary when you eat fiber!  Drinking water alone helps to dilute/eliminate toxins, cleanse the skin and our kidneys.
  • Exercise - this helps to stimulate elimination through the skin as we sweat.  Additionally, it helps to stimulate circulation and our lymphatic system, both of which are important for detoxing.
  • Herbal Formulas - there are many herbal formulas out there that assist with detoxification.  I take a specific herbal formula (Dr. Nicola's Detox #2), but there are many other options out there as well.  Milk thistle is said to be beneficial with liver protection and detoxification.(3)    

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Being a Better You

Today I began to think of some ways we can slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer.  I think it is so crucial that we all do this- it is truly nurturing for you mental and physical wellbeing.  I think there are all too many people out there that believe that if they work hard for forty years, then they'll eventually get to wind down and relax when it comes time for retirement.  Well- what if your health deteriorates before you reach that time?  What if you lose your significant other?  What if you lose your job?  These "what-ifs" aren't meant to be anxiety provoking or negative.  It's just to illustrate the fact that life can throw a real wrench in our life plans sometimes, and this is why I think it is so important to treasure the here and now.  Be grateful for what you do have (not what you don't) and live for today, not for tomorrow.  Much easier said than done, right?

I found a list of 75 things you can do to brighten your day over at ZenHabits.  Here are my personal suggestions- most things take a minimal amount of time, which makes them ideal for busy people:

  1. Take a walk.
  2. Buy a plant and take a few minutes to care for it each day to observe it's beauty.
  3. Have a cup of tea and savor every sip.
  4. Sit outdoors and truly experience what nature has to offer (feel the breeze on your skin, watch the clouds float by, feel the sun, etc.).  
  5. Take a time out to do some bird watching.  Set up a feeder and observe the beautiful birds that come to visit.
  6. Read a few pages in an inspirational book.
  7. Listen to music- preferably some songs that touch your soul or make you get up and dance.
  8. While you're out and about, admire the innocence of a child.
  9. Love your pet- give back some of that unconditional love that they show you every day.
  10. Inhale the aroma of a candle (preferably made from a natural source like soy or beeswax vs. the average kind that's made with toxic chemicals) or essential oils.
  11. Take 10 minutes to lie down and practice diaphragmatic breathing.
  12. If you can afford it, get a massage.  If not, get a loved one to give you a massage!
  13. Call an old friend.
  14. Tell someone what you love about them.
  15. Discover the therapeutic properties of laughter!

Some inspirational quotes to write in a journal or hang around your house (maybe on a mirror or the fridge?):
  • “The sky has never been the limit. We are our own limits. It’s then about breaking our personal limits and outgrowing ourselves to live our best lives.”
  • “To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.”
  • “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice.  And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
  • "Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them."  ~Dion Boucicault
  • "Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."  ~Carl Sandburg
  • "Time is an equal opportunity employer.  Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day.  Rich people can't buy more hours.  Scientists can't invent new minutes.  And you can't save time to spend it on another day.  Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving.  No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow."  ~Denis Waitely
  • "You cannot do a kindness to soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Benefits of Yoga

I did not get into yoga to get stronger or to become more flexible.  My body actually kind of "forced" me into yoga because it was too sensitive to tolerate any thing else.  Because of the Lyme I am on an aerobic restriction, and even if I wasn't, the fatigue makes it very difficult to have the energy to exercise.  So, during my most recent flare, I discovered yoga.  I'd been doing yoga on the Wii fit (which I know really doesn't count) for a couple of years, but I didn't realize that there's so much more to it.  Yoga has truly changed my life- the way that I view things, my relationship with my body, my reaction to physical pain, my ability to handle stressful situations.... I could go on and on.  I am blessed to have a one on one instructor who has taught me so much.  I'd like to share some of my favorite poses and then I'll talk about my favorite kind of yoga- Restorative Yoga!

"Pose of the Child"

"Modified Child's Pose"

"Tree Pose"

So, why yoga?  According to the MayoClinic, here are some of the great benefits:

  • Stress Reduction
  • Increased Fitness
  • Management of Chronic Health Conditions
  • Weight Loss

Okay, now on to my favorite kind of yoga- RESTORATIVE YOGA!!!  This type of yoga is very passive- it uses blankets, yoga blocks, straps, sandbags, eyebags, etc. to do all of the work for you!  It truly feels like a vacation for your body!  You hold each pose (as you are supported by your prop) for a given length of time (maybe 5-15 minutes, depending on the pose) while you just lie there and experience a great state of relaxation.  Sounds pretty good, huh?  My group instructor says it can really help with getting us out of that constant "fight or flight" mode that most people are constantly in.  According to her, it can also be helpful for fighting adrenal fatigue, boosting the immune system, helping chronic pain, and coping with grief or stress.  Here are some examples of restorative poses:

To learn more about yoga, check out these yoga sites:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Natural Sunblock for the Summer

UV Skinz are swimshirts with a UPF rating of 50+, but without all of the chemicals!  These are a great way of protecting yourself from the sun, without the added worry of reapplying sunblock through out the day.  With Melanoma on the rise (a 200% increase since the 70's), these are a great way to prevent those nasty burns that can lead to skin cancer.  This site sells shirts for babies, kids, and adults.  They also have hats and little shade tents to provide protection for those sunny days on the beach or at the park.  Check out their site to learn more about the products UV Skinz

Looking for more sites with products to protect you from the sun?  Check out the following:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Combat the bugs & sun- the NATURAL way!

Although summer has already started, I wanted to do a quick post on some must-have healthy products!  Protect yourself from the sun and bugs, while protecting yourself from unwanted toxic chemicals that are in many traditional sunscreens and bugsprays!

Bug Away by Real Earth (find it at Abe's Market) - A Natural & Deet-Free Insect Repellent

Bug + Sun (SPF 30) Protection by Real Earth (find it at Abe's Market) - All Natural Bug & Sun Combo

BuzzAway Citronella Candle by Quantum Natural Insect Repellents (find it at Herbtrader) - It comes in a cute little tin (which is great for traveling!) and burns up to 20 hours.

Bug Off! Bug Bite Soother (find it at Abe's Market) - A natural soother for the post-bug bite itch!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grief - An Unique & Ongoing Process

I've been feeling like my emotions have been "stuck" lately, which made me decide to get the movie "Beaches" from Netflix.  I probably won't have a chance to watch it until the weekend, but I know that it will evoke emotions within me that I for some reason am not able to access right now.  I "feel" them, they just won't come out!  I've had this issue most of my life, so I'm not too surprised that it's happening now.  Anyway, during my search for movies, I read of "Cinematherapy".  It sounds like something I've been doing unknowingly for years (watching a movie, crying, journaling about your thoughts/feelings after).  It also indicates that you should pay close attention to your breath and be very aware of your body throughout the movie.  Here is a site that talks about Cinematherapy and lists some movies that may be helpful depending on your specific life circumstance.  Another site called Self-Healing Expressions has a great movie list, that categorizes recommendations by type of loss (i.e., parent, sister, friend, etc.).  Amazon additionally has a list called "Movies that help you cope with death, grief, and loss".  I am not convinced that watching any of these movies will "help" me, but I do think it should be therapeutic to cry, grieve, and reflect on my emotions.

I'd also like to list some book recommendations I've been given and those that I've come across on the internet.  Please know that these books may not coincide with your personal belief system, so make sure it's a good "fit" before you get it. As of now, I have not had the opportunity to read any of these books, but I plan to in the future.

I was going to list some websites that I've found that have helpful information and resources about grieving, but I've decided that this post is getting kind of long- so I think I'll save the rest for another day.  Take care!

Image Above: Idea go /

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In Honor of Laura

In honor of my best friend that just passed, I'd like to share this video clip about Melanoma.  Melanoma is being called a "young person's disease" and is the number one cancer that kills women ages 25-30.  Please take the time to watch and learn from this informative video.

Learn more about Melanoma at the AIM at Melanoma website.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Plants- An Easy Way to Reduce Indoor Toxins

My husband and I are currently looking into buying a house.  During this process, we've come across a few homes that have had strong odors from fresh paint and new carpet.  I know that opening doors and windows and installing a good filter in your A/C system can help, but I also know that house plants can help to clean your indoor air.  This led me to do a little research to find out what plants are most helpful for clearing out those indoor toxins.  According to Annie Bond's article on the care2 website, these were the best options:

  • Areca palm
  • Reed palm
  • Dwarf date palm
  • Boston fern
  • Janet craig dracaena
  • English ivy
  • Australian sword fern
  • Peace lily
  • Rubber plant
  • Weeping fig
If you have a pet, make sure you read this article to determine whether these indoor plants could pose a risk to your furry friend.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Reducing Toxins in the Home

Here's a great video from Sutter Health, on how to reduce toxins in your home.  And here is another on indoor air pollution.

"Green" alternatives for products that are typically used:
  • Flooring/carpet:
    • Use natural fiber carpets made of wool or cotton.  Look into renewable resources for you flooring, like cork, palm, and bamboo.
  • Paint
    • Choose no volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints with natural pigments.
  • Materials used in furniture & household decor:
    • Wash curtains before hanging and let new furniture "gas off" outside for at least a week before bringing into the home.  If these suggestions aren't practical, buy products with natural materials such as wool, cotton, linen, or silk.  Make sure products are not treated with chemicals to repel moths or flames.
    • Avoid furniture made with chipboard wood because it contains formaldehyde, and avoid plastics because they often contain harmful toxins.
  • Cleaning products:
    • Use natural products to avoid bringing unnecessary toxins into your home.  Many of these cleaners are just as effective as the ones made with harsh chemicals, but the natural formulas don't pose a hazard to your health.
Things you can do to reduce the build up of indoor toxins:
  • buy plants to help clear the air
  • change your AC air filter regularly
  • use natural cleaning products
  • open your windows regularly (even in the winter!)
  • remove your shoes before entering your home (you don't want to welcome those pesticides from the lawn into your home)
  • avoid using artificial air fresheners

Where do you buy "green products" for the home?  Check out some of these sites:
More Resources:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chronic Illness - Podcasts & Resources

Chronic illness is very disruptive to those who experience it.  It can offset even the most seemingly basic day to day activities, cause financial strain, and marital/family problems.  Although there is no easy solution, here are some resources that offer some help.  I should also add that the podcasts listed below could be useful for anyone, not just those with a chronic illness.

For most of these, I subscribe through iTunes, so if you don't want to subscribe through the websites listed here, you could easily just do a search on iTunes and get the podcast there.
  • Inner Health Studio Podcast (Website: Inner Health Studio) - this podcast has many specialized relaxation scripts that target a variety of issues.  They are great for general relaxation, specific health problems, and emotional disturbances.  One of my personal favorites is the "Hot Springs Sleep Relaxation".  There also are some episodes for pregnancy, autism, and positive self image.  I am looking forward to listening to one of the newer podcasts titled "Relaxation for dealing with food sensitivities."  
  • Meditation Oasis Podcast (Website: Meditation Oasis) - this podcast has a very soothing nature to it.  It takes you through meditation and relaxation step-by-step, and helps to reduce the pressure of achieving a meditation that is "right" or "wrong".   My personal favorites are the "Body Awareness Meditation" and the "Grounding Meditation".
  • The Heart of Healing (Website: Kerani Marie) - this podcast discusses the healing powers that life has to offer.  It examines our relationship with our views on life, and examines how we can change them to experience life in a whole new way.  My favorite episodes are "Changing our Perception" and "Pain Can Lead to a New Dance".
Links about chronic illness:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Helpful Video on Lyme Disease

Watch this 50 minute talk about lyme disease given by Dr. Yang.  She discusses lots of different treatments (natural and conventional) and really gives a nice description of how lyme disease impacts your body.  Check it out the video here.  Dr. Yang has a family practice located in Santee, California.  To find out more about her practice, you can also check out her website, here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Under Our Skin" to be shown on PBS Stations in May 2011

Spread the word and let your friends and family know that "Under Our Skin" will be aired on national television in May!!!  I read about this on the CALDA website, so hopefully they'll provide more details about this as the time gets closer.

Watch the trailer for "Under Our Skin", here.

Buy a copy of "Under Our Skin", here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How Safe is TB Testing?

I began to wonder about this as I signed on to a new job that requires annual TB testing.  I came across a very lengthy article (1) that discussed TB testing in detail.  Some important takeaways were:
  • the chemicals used for the TB test are typically made up of TUBERSOL® and Phenol (a preservative - see the toxicological profile for Phenol)
  • TUBERSOL® is a known mutagen 
  • the CDC states that TB testing is safe during pregnancy, even though there has never been any mutagenicity testing performed and Tubersol is a known mutagen
  • according to the 1972 edition of Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine and nursing defines Phenol as "an extremely poisonous antiseptic, germicidal, and disinfectant"
  • Phenol is associated with skin cancer development when injected in animals 
  • the CDC states that the TB testing is safe, even though no carcinogenicity studies have been performed
  • targeted TB testing in health care workers is only recommended (not required) by the CDC; although some facilities make testing mandatory amongst employees (and subject to termination for refusal)
Specifically, in the FDA document on Tuberculin (TUBERSOL®), it states:
  • "Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with TUBERSOL.  It is also not known whether TUBERSOL can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity.  TUBERSOL should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed."
    The article also discussed conflicts of interest amongst doctors establishing treatment guidelines on disease treatment.  Some interesting facts according to a cited JAMA article(2) on the website I'm referencing:
    • 85% of guideline authors have some sort of relationships with drug companies, and they are often not disclosed
    • 38% of respondents said they had served as employees or consultants for drug companies; 58% received research money
    • 59% had links with drug companies whose medications were considered in the particular guidelines they authored, almost all cases predating the guideline creation process 
    •  These numbers may be even greater, as only 52% of authors responded
    Wow!  Great to know that the information OUR doctors read to learn how to properly treat US, is written by doctors that frequently have conflicts of interest.  Just another reason why it is so important for YOU to be in charge of your own health and be an advocate for proper care.

    Also worth mentioning:
    Another interesting document I came across indicates that the current limit values for Phenol were set over 40 years ago(5).  The document states that the limit values need to be reconsidered because research indicates that Phenol is harmful even at very low levels in animal experiments.  In addition to serving as a preservative in TB testing, phenol is used in plastic and dyes (and is frequently used in childrens toys and our food packaging).

    2) N.K. Choudhry, et. al. Relationships between authors of clinical practice guidelines and the pharmaceutical industry JAMA; 287,612-617, 2002