Acupuncture and arthritis

Arthritis is extremely common and not fun. To break the word down, itis means inflammation, arth comes from the Greek word, arthron, meaning joint. A joint is where two bones articulate. So we have inflammation in the joints. And pain, because inflammation causes pain.
Acupuncture can help. It can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It does need ongoing treatment, because the arthritis itself, as far as I so far know, is ongoing. We seem to be able to improve it but not remove it altogether.
I’m investigating arthritis at the moment because I now have it myself and it’s challenging. I am developing lumps on my finger joints which I do not like and I would like them to go away. But however common arthritis is, it is not simple.
There’s plenty of information and advice on the Web. 8.75 million people in the UK have sought help and advice on osteoarthritis and about 400,000 people, also in the UK, have rheumatoid arthritis.
The first stop is always diet, for arthritis as for everything else, since we are what we eat. This is an interesting website: http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Stone_Age_Diet_-_this_is_a_diet_which_we_all_should_follow#Four_white_devils
I do eat meat although I was vegetarian for seven years several years ago and I understand the arguments for not eating meat. The way the majority of animals are raised for consumption now is horrific and I go out of my way to buy meat from an animal that has been properly and compassionately raised, and has spent most of its time outside, eating grass.
I don’t quite follow the Stone Age diet but I have very little grain and avoid the solanaceae, the deadly nightshade family, which are all slightly poisonous. These are potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, including paprika, chilli and cayenne. Goji berries and ashwaganda (an Indian herb used as an adaptogen)are also from the solanaceae family, and even blueberries, although I’m not sure about this and neither are the sources I have checked: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/link-between-nightshades-chronic-pain-and-inflammation They are all best avoided if you have arthritis or other inflammation-related health issues. Have a look at this article too: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/nightshades/ He says that blueberries do not contain solanine. I eat them rather a lot but I think I will give them a miss for a while.
I’ve read several articles on the Web and several books, the latest being The New Arthritis Cure by Bruce Fife, who has also written books about coconut oil, which naturally enough features in the arthritis book.
So now I have a long list of things to do, like oil-pulling (see Bruce Fife’s books) and exercise, which I do anyway, usually walking and yoga, (did you know that bouncing on a rebounder exercises every joint in the body, even in the fingers?) foods to avoid, like nightshades, chocolate, processed foods and sugar (I don’t have these anyway. Well, a bit of chocolate.)
However, none of these books or articles has mentioned oxalates, the salt form of oxalic acid, as in, for instance, spinach. I found out about these when I started avoiding grains. I personally think humans have not evolved to eat grasses and grains are cultivated grasses. I feel better without them but the pain in my fingers got worse because I had to find other things to eat than grains and one thing I started eating was a loaf made with ground almonds and flax seed. It was delicious but each slice probably had at least twenty almonds in it and if I had more than one slice, which I usually did, I had consumed a lot of almonds.
I discovered that almonds, and, in fact, most nuts and many vegetables are very high in oxalates, spinach extraordinarily so, which are microscopic stones with very sharp edges that lodge in damaged tissue. Here is another article, again from the Weston Price Foundation, on oxalates, which is very enlightening. They are more often associated with kidney stones but very relevant to any painful and inflamed tissues, including arthritis: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/the-role-of-oxalates-in-autism-and-chronic-disorders/

What I have realised, in the course of several years now studying the relationship of food and diet to health or ill-health, is that every food has a downside. Nothing is simple and completely benign. Grains, for instance, contain anti-nutrients that prevent some minerals from being absorbed and they are not easily processed at all by humans until they themselves have been processed, for example by fermentation. There is also the example of the deadly nightshade family that I have already mentioned. Meat, until fairly recently, had to be hunted and captured, no mean feat, I imagine. I think this is because every living thing on the planet gets eaten by some other living thing and so each species has evolved a defence system to try to prevent itself from being eaten. Being at the top of the food chain humans have no predators but we kill each other anyway, for power rather than hunger. But that’s another subject.

However, in the meantime, because all of the above takes time to implement and to take effect, I have had good results using acupuncture for arthritis: see my blog, Acupuncture Miracle No.1.

Ants and bees – a metaphor

This is an email I received today and I’m putting it on the blog because I like it and what it has to say to all of us. It’s by Madyson Taylor and comes from the Daily Om:

“We can learn a lot from watching ants and bees living in community and working for the greater good.

When we see ants and bees out in the world, we often see just one, but this belies the reality of their situation. More than any other species, ants and bees function as parts of a whole. They cannot and do not survive as individuals; they survive as members of a group, and the group’s survival is the implicit goal of each individual’s life. There is no concept of life outside the group, so even to use the word individual is somewhat misleading. Often, humans, on the other hand, strongly value individuality and often negatively associate ants and bees with a lack of independence. And yet, if we look closer at these amazing creatures, we can learn valuable lessons about how much we can achieve when we band together with others to work for a higher purpose.

Most ants and bees have highly specified roles within their communities, some of which are biologically dictated, and they work within the confines of their roles without complaint, never wishing to be something other than what they are. In this way, they symbolize self-knowledge and humility. They also display selfless service as they work for the common good. In many ways, they are like the individual cells of one body, living and dying as necessary to preserve the integrity of the whole body, not to protect themselves as individuals. In this way, ants personify the ability to see beyond one’s small self to one’s place within the greater whole, and the ability to serve this whole selflessly.

Ants and bees can inspire us to fully own what we have to offer and to put it to use in the pursuit of a goal that will benefit all of humanity, whether it be raising consciousness about the environment, feeding the hungry, or raising a happy child. Each one of us has certain talents we were born with, as well as skills we have acquired. When we apply these gifts, knowing that we are one part of a greater organism working to better the whole world, we honour and implement the wisdom of ants and bees.”

About water

I read a lot of books about health issues and how to look and feel better. A lot of them are about diet and there is a lot of conflicting advice. It can make giving advice to patients a bit problematic because as knowledge and books pile up so some things I have read get discarded and some are retained. It does become apparent that in many instances there is an agenda. Many books and articles are written on the basis of “it worked for me therefore it must be right, and if this is right then everything else is wrong.”
In the end I go with personal experience and suggest to my patients that they do the same thing. I rarely recommend a food supplement or practice I have not used myself.
However there are some things that are basic to health. Hydration is one of those. It is essential to drink enough water for the body to be able to function as it should.
Quite a while ago I read a book, “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, an Iranian doctor, on this theme. It does make for compelling reading. But personal experience is always the most convincing. Years ago, while I was at college, I made a visit to a chiropractor who was recommended by a friend. He clicked my back and it felt better but he also told me to drink lots of water for the next 24 hours. I did and I couldn’t believe how much better I felt in every way. I had more energy, felt more alert, more balanced emotionally and I actually was aware of feeling happier. I was astonished that just drinking more water could have such an effect.
The book recommends drinking 2 litres of plain water every day. If it’s very warm, drink more. If you are wanting to lose weight or help an existing health problem you should probably drink more. In this cold weather drinking cold water is not inviting but you can just take the edge of it by adding a tiny bit of hot water.
As with every change, do it gradually. If you are drinking very little at the moment, increase the amount over a couple of weeks or so. Give your body time to get used to it.
Another marvellous book on water, and quite different, is “The Hidden Messages in Water” by Masaru Emoto. He has been doing research on water for many years. He found that water from unpolluted and natural sources, such as springs, forms beautiful crystals. But water that is polluted or treated with chlorine is unable to form crystals. This is the water that most of us drink every day.
Water has a memory: homoeopathy is based on this principle. When exposed to loving words water also forms these crystals. Bearing in mind that the human body is largely made up of water, this is important. It makes a difference what we say to each other and to ourselves. I highly recommend this book. It is truly original.

Acupuncture miracle No.1

This lady came to me with rheumatoid arthritis, diagnosed two months previously. One year previous to that diagnosis she had a hysterectomy. She was told by doctors that she needed to have this done, due to long term endometriosis and the possibility of a growth at the back of the womb being cancerous. She said her periods had always been “horrendous”. She was put on the contraceptive pill to regulate them. It is likely that the pill contained oestrogen but she couldn’t remember which one it was. Many women are oestrogen dominant rather than deficient and it is possible that the pill caused more problems than it solved. Endometriosis is usually caused by an excess of oestrogen. It was probably very long term – impossible to say when it started; it’s often not diagnosed for years – and she started having “procedures” i.e. operations to remove endometrial tissue ten years previous to the hysterectomy. But the endometrial tissue kept on coming and so she had several procedures. Her energy levels were “dreadful” and her emotional state low. She had a stressful job with a lot of responsibility, working for her father’s company. So we started treatment. I always ask people what kind of weather they like and about their own body temperature – are they hot, cool, irritated by wind etc. She said she had been cold all her life. Her brother remembers that when she was born, in August, he (then aged 4) was standing by a radiator, which was on. She was wrapped in a blanket and he was holding her, while their father took photographs. He said he remembers being “so hot”! She said she comes to life and has energy when the sun shines and it’s warm. She said also that she told the doctors that she felt her period problems were due to her poor circulation, because she was cold. When liquids are warm they are thin. As they become cooler they thicken, for instance ice-cream. When water freezes it goes solid. We are roughly 70% water, depending on age and levels of hydration. It makes sense that when we are cold we feel heavier and more solid and we don’t have the energy we do when we are warm enough. Enough is the operative word. When things are cold they coagulate, thicken and harden, inside bodies as well as outside in the environment. Cold weather is the time of year for hibernation and a lack of activity. The doctors didn’t listen. They thought she was being silly. But we know our own bodies best and she was probably right. So I warmed her up, slowly, with needles in particular points and with moxa, which is a dried herb compressed into a cigar shape, which you light at one end, like a cigarette, and then direct the smoke and the heat it produces onto areas on the body. It’s often used on the lower back or the abdomen to heat the core of the body and increase energy. It has taken a while and she is lucky in that she can afford to come every week, but she has improved dramatically. When she last saw the consultant he remarked that she looked like a different person. The pain and inflammation from the rheumatoid arthritis is much, much less. She is still on medication but the consultant says that if she continues to improve and can hold her current level of wellbeing he is happy to look at that possibility. It is not up to me to advise on her medication since I did not put her on it. Now she is warm when everybody else is warm, when it is normal to be warm. When it’s cold she feels the cold like everyone else but she no longer wears gloves to type on the computer, in an office everyone else complains is too hot. She can wear shoes rather than sheepskin boots. This is huge. This is what acupuncture has been able to do for her. I know of no other form of medicine that could do this. This is miracle number 1. (I would like to point out that this is obviously anonymous but I do have the person’s permission to write about her.)

Issues old and new

While wondering what to write about in my blog I looked briefly at the news. My goodness, plenty of issues there!
There’s female genital mutilation, abbreviated to FGM, which was the subject, along with forced child marriage, of a conference in London yesterday, the Girl Summit, hosted by our Government and Unicef.
In order to speak about a subject you have to use words and the words pull the mind where it wouldn’t otherwise want to go. Words give a thing a label and it then becomes part of our consciousness. But the mind, or mine anyway, recoils from contemplating something as barbaric, cruel and abusive as mutilated genitals.
It is reported that 125 million women worldwide have been subjected to this. 170,000 of them are in the United Kingdom. The NSPCC set up a helpline a year ago, which has so far received around 300 calls. Nearly 130 of those were passed on to the police or Child Services.
Mothers and grandmothers, who have themselves been mutilated, do it to their daughters and grand-daughters. It’s apparently part of an ancient tradition. Started by whom? And why? Who first had the idea of doing this to a woman in order to disempower and subjugate her at the most basic level? I wonder who the first victim was, how old she was, and why this happened, and continued to happen and still happens. What a power trip for someone.
Malala Yousafzai, the girl who survived being short in the head by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school, spoke at the conference yesterday:
“Traditions are not sent from heaven, they are not sent from God. (It is us) who make cultures. We have the right to change it and we should change it. Those traditions that go against the health of girls, they should be stopped.”
The “health of girls”, mild words indeed, but what a brave girl she is and what a marvellous role model for girls and women everywhere.
Then there’s the MH17 aircraft that was shot down and the chaos and politicking that has ensued and the rhetoric being thrown around, including that from David Cameron, ever anxious to score points and with his eyes on the General Election next year.
In marked contrast, the Dutch Prime Minister gave a speech which was from the heart and focusing absolutely on the human aspect. It’s worth reading, as an example of a leader of a country who is also, and has remained, a human being. It was reported in the Huffington Post. This is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/22/speech-un-mh17_n_5609363.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular
And a bit of humour. My home page, when I turn on the computer in the morning, is BBC News and I found this while looking around: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-28426819
It’s a 3 ½ minute video poking fun at the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, made by a Chinese man with 190,000 followers on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, and it’s been watched in China over 55 million times. It’s a lot of fun and worth a look.

What now?

I haven’t written since January. That’s a long time for a blog. What’s happening now?

Next Monday it will be a year and three months since my partner left the planet. I miss him really, awfully much but at least I am not spinning  around in quite such a painful place any more. I don’t think you ever get over a really big loss but you start to get used to it and you carry on living, because you have to. I still have to eat, sleep, shop, cook, wash, earn money etc. These things become reference points and become significant because if you want to stay alive then you simply have to do them.

When I first began to think, coming of age at 60 (it did feel like that!), what shall I do with the rest of my life, I did not anticipate asking and looking for answers, as I am, from the particular perspective that I now have. And it changes things.

A few months ago I sat with a friend, also recently bereaved, in Nero’s in Worthing. We looked onto the street and noticed the people walking by. All ages, all shapes and sizes, some walking purposefully and quickly – maybe running an errand or buying lunch – some just walking and wandering – maybe killing some time or giving themselves some time off. We wondered how many other people, how many other women, are asking themselves – what shall I do now? As we ourselves were.

What do you do, where do you go, who do you talk to, when life suddenly serves up a major change? Or when it serves up several major changes all at once, since one can lead to another and frequently does. My friend has just moved to Devon, where her son lives. Okay, so that’s not the other side of the world but it’s still a big move that she hadn’t planned on making on her own. She and her husband were considering it. She did it alone. That made it major. Her major change was the loss of him.

We thought of starting a group, along these lines, for women to come to. A group whose focus would be that question – what now? I have sometimes felt that I am holding my life in my hands, like a living thing, demanding attention and feeling kind of “hot”, like holding a hot coal. What to do with it when there are no easy answers and it’s difficult and challenging and something seems to want or need change but nothing does change?

It’s not only major changes that force us to look at our lives and pay more attention.  Sometimes it’s just the feeling that there could be more to life than there appears to be and we feel restlessness, boredom, nervousness cranking up. Entertaining ourselves from here to the next corner is not enough. We want more out of life or maybe want to put more into it; the two tend to be related.

So now I’m starting this group, with another friend. We are putting ideas and leaflets together to put ourselves out there. If you are reading this and you are interested in joining us, call me.

 

Reading books

I read a lot of books. I love books. I have always loved books. At the moment there are easily a dozen books in my living room, in various stages of receiving attention. I have just started learning about astrology so there are several books on that. There’s a book about angels, lent to me by a friend. There are lots of books but not many novels. I don’t read many novels. But the book which is getting most of my attention at the moment is “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” by Betty Smith, which is a novel.

This is a lovely book so I’m writing about it. I think it was quite well known at one time because I have heard of it before but never read it. It was published in 1943. It’s about the immigrant population in Brooklyn at the beginning of the 19th century, before the First World War, and is really social history made into a novel. It’s written mostly from the point of view of a young girl called Francie Nolan. Her father is Irish and her mother is from somewhere in Eastern Europe. She is a sensitive and intelligent child, also rather isolated and lonely and as she observes the world around her we learn about her life and the lives of her family and the people in the neighbourhood.

Maybe Betty Smith is writing about her own childhood. There is extraordinary detail in the minutiae of ordinary life. There is also an acceptance of how things are – the poverty and harshness of their lives, her father’s alcoholism and feelings of inadequacy coupled with his gentleness and love towards her. Her mother is the one who takes responsibility and who copes, and works, works, works, to keep them all together with a roof over their heads and a minimum amount of food in their stomachs. And it is a minimum; they are often hungry.

We are now more than a hundred years on from that time. There are things that spring out from the pages – the strength of the family unit is one. It’s not clear what the old country they have come from is, but wherever it is they are peasants there and America in any form is an improvement. They see it as a land of opportunity, freedom and, most of all, hope.

A strong sense of loyalty to the community also springs out, especially in comparison to the community that we no longer have today. Also compassion, understanding and gentleness. There is no feeling of hierachy because everyone is struggling, just like the tree in the book title. Everyone has a place, the old as well as the young.

 There are two good second hand bookshops where I live and I got it through one of them. I think the copy I have is a proof-reader’s copy and the pages are slightly ragged, not clean cut as for a bookshop sale. It’s a hardback with small print and it’s very old and it’s a real book. No Kindle for me thank you.

I recommend it. It’s good reading for baby-boomers and for everyone else too. It’s also very salutary: we are having quite tough times but really we should be so grateful for what we have. Most of us have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge (and the fridge itself!) and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Too many people in the world don’t have these basics.

 

Dealing with the to-do list

I have discovered a great way to deal with my to-do list. You know, that list that sits on the worktop, or table, or wherever, with all the things you are planning to do when you have the time; when you feel like doing one or two of them; when you can afford it etc.

I got up the other day and made a to-do list for that day. I’ve started keeping a little book especially for the purpose. And I wrote down those things I had already done and put a big tick through them, in a different colour. I realised how good that made me feel, writing down and putting big ticks through the things I had already done. As I went through the day, ticking things off and putting in other things I had done that wouldn’t normally make it to the to-do list and ticking those off too I felt a sense of achievement that was very satisfying.

I think, for me, this is a good policy, a way of encouraging and supporting myself and appreciating that, actually, I generally do quite a lot. A lot of the day is made up of doing little things, work aside, and we tend to discount them because they are semi-automatic. Check emails, order things that we need, do the washing-up.

Doing this, and smiling at myself for entertaining myself in this way, is another small step in moving forward. We all have to keep taking these small steps – sometimes they are big steps that take a lot of courage and pats-on-the-back from ourselves – to deal with life, that huge amorphous thing we wake up to every morning. We need all the self-help we can dish out to do that.