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.

It’s turned out to be about yoga!

My blog is taking a new direction. I am an independent woman, but now I know what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’m no longer, at least for a while, asking the question “What shall I do with the rest of my life?”
That’s a good feeling, a comforting feeling. I practise acupuncture and I teach yoga. I trained in both of those many years ago because I discovered them and made a decision that they would work for me and I could work using both of them for a long time, until I dropped.
The teacher of the style I use in yoga now, Vanda Scaravelli, died around 10 years ago, still practising and teaching – she only ever taught one-to-one – at the age of 91. She wrote a book called “Awakening the Spine”, of which I have a copy. There is a picture of her on the back cover, at an advanced age, in sleeping pose. That means she is lying on her back with her feet behind her head, supporting it, and her hands are under her back, supporting her back, with her palms facing down.
images Vanda Scaravelli
What! I will never do that!
But her yoga is not really about getting into contortions like that one. I think she just loved to get into those positions.
I still love both of the subjects I practise – the yoga and the acupuncture.
I would say that the yoga she taught is above all else about freedom of movement; the freedom of the body to move intelligently and as it wishes. You only have to observe any animal for a very short time to witness freedom of movement and the comfort and appropriateness of that, how it is at one with itself, comfortable in its own skin.
Many of us humans have lost that comfortableness. Yoga helps to direct us back to that, listening to our bodies from within as well as being directed from without by the teacher, or ourselves when we practise. I know it has kept me sane in difficult times. It is a discipline and it does take time and commitment but both of those are good for us and benefit us in lots of ways that we couldn’t or wouldn’t initially think of.
I often combine yoga and acupuncture, for instance if someone comes for acupuncture to help with stress, chronic fatigue or back problems it can be very helpful to use a few basic poses, to help with relaxation or to encourage the muscles to let go of tension.
I have practised yoga for 27 years now. When something feels right you keep doing it.
I’m just off to do a class now.

Anxiety – a view

It’s now 19 months since my partner died. I’ve been spending more time with women, particularly older women. This is not surprising since I am one myself. (There’s a difference between old and older – I wouldn’t put myself in the “old” category until I’ve reached 90, if I do. I’m not sure that I want to.)
So this is a quite a big change. My partner was several years younger than me, in his late 40’s, so through him I came into contact with other, mostly younger, men. He worked and I work so our days were structured around work. Many of the women I know now, as I have met several new people and made new friends, for which I am grateful, no longer work, and their husbands are also retired. I have discovered this is an entirely different group of people with an entirely different way of spending their time.
And this is new to me. Of course, I have known most of my friends for a while so it’s only partly that there are people in my life who no longer work and their way of life is not new to them. But for me it’s like a window on to life for the older woman, and especially those who no longer work to earn.
Anxiety creeps in.
Sometimes the husbands, if they are around, contribute to the anxiety – they might have failing health; they might just be irritating or there are other problems which somehow don’t get dealt with – but often it’s just a kind of existential anxiety. And when we meet we talk about the things that make us anxious, and that we wish we could do something about, but mostly can’t.
For one friend it’s the anxiety engendered by suddenly finding herself on her own when her husband died, and she would prefer that he hadn’t. I entirely understand how she feels. It feels as if, finding ourselves on our own, without a partner and the children having long gone, anxiety presents itself at the back door, knocking, and giving so many reasons why it should be let in. I feel this. And sometimes it slips in when we are looking the other way. Somehow the door is left open and when I turn round there it is, challenging, and rationalising its presence.
I also, of course, know several women of my age and older, who do work, either full or part time, and some of these are on their own, without partners / husbands. Do they have anxiety? Well, yes. Women of all ages have anxiety. We seem to specialise in it in a way that men do not. It seems to be part of modern life. But when you’re younger you still have so many roles that you are playing and that take up a lot of time and energy and so anxiety often sits in the background, whittling away at energy levels, causing difficulties with sleeping, digestive disturbances etc, but you get on and do the things that you have to do, because they have to be done.
But this is not the particular manner of anxiety that I am currently looking at, close up so to speak.
I think that for me, there are two things going on. One is to do with loss. The loss of a partner leads to other losses. Where there were two people sharing their lives now there is one. One person is suddenly living alone who previously was not. No-one to talk to, watch television with, go for a walk with, have breakfast with, cuddle and make love with. Now there’s just one person. This can lead to a huge loss of confidence and a loss of identity. Who am I now? Thus comes the anxiety.
The other is, what to do about it? What do I do now? And how do I get it right? Because now I’m closer to the end of my life than the beginning.
I think I have to go back to the drawing board. When something or someone goes out of your life it leaves a gap, which has to be filled. And, for me at least, it has to be purposeful and fulfilling. It’s not enough to fill my time by entertaining myself from here to the next corner, and then the one after that. I think that eventually that will lead to more anxiety, not less.
A drawing board is empty until you put something on it. I found a quote on the Internet a few days ago, “ Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”
So here goes.
I think the answer, or one contender, is in being creative – writing, painting, decorating, making baskets, knitting, sewing, whatever. Something that comes from within, not without. As long as we are looking to be filled by things that come from without then we are likely, to some extent, to become dependent on them. Even family and friends, wonderful as they can be, come from without and really, they are the icing on the cake. It’s the cake itself that is my life. Cake without icing is do-able – not fun, but do-able, and there’s always some icing. But icing without cake is not do-able. Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever. It’s a poison and extremely addictive. I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to fall into that anxiety trap and forget that I’ve always got cake.

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.

 

Making changes

This is difficult. My life is going through huge changes at the moment, due to the loss of my partner, and family adjustments, and my own adjustments, to a new way of living. I had not anticipated this, in any way, and it is making me feel vulnerable and exposed to this world with all of its challenges and apparent chaos. I feel a profound lack of order and a solid base in my emotional life. I’ve gone off at a tangent, having had no choice in the matter and the scenery around me is new and strange.

My brave words in the championing of older women no longer feel entirely right or appropriate. I still believe wholeheartedly in the concept and I still champion older women but I have to think again and employ a softer approach, more understanding and more compassionate. This place where I now find myself, standing alone, without a partner, is rather frightening and I realise that many women of my age, or any age, have been here before me.

This is not about feeling happy or not happy. That word, at the moment, is also not appropriate. What I feel is raw and tender. Almost as if I were a baby and brand new and delicate. I have to look after myself. I think this feeling is more familiar to older women (and probably older men, too) than I had known. By the time we reach 50, or 60 or older – there is no upper age limit – lots of things have happened to us, and they haven’t all been easy or comfortable. We sometimes feel the need to withdraw and lick our wounds; hibernate and eat the dirt, as animals do when they are sick.

I want to create an online community of women, women like me, those who are raw and vulnerable as well as those waving the flag. I’m sure there are lots of us; we want to make a contribution and to be reassured that we are of value. That our years of life experience count and that we can have a positive impact. These are the wisdom years and this wisdom would like to be put to good use.

If we take humanity to be one body of seven billion or so individual sparks, then the waking up to itself of each spark makes a difference to the whole. Will the spark that we are be weakly sputtering, feeling itself hopeless and powerless, or will it be a light shining brightly, illuminating the space around it and able to create what it wants, what it feels to be right and appropriate and thereby making a contribution and a difference. Or something in between. How bright does your light shine? How bright does my light shine?