Monday, March 31, 2014

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR TREATING A COLD

This is the perfect time for me to write about treating a cold as I have been doing just that for the last 5 days. I do wonder about the mind body connection, superstition, coincidence or whatever else this might be called. I'm referencing to last Monday and thinking to myself that I hadn't had a cold for about 2 years. The very next day, symptoms slowly came on me during the day and by night time I knew a cold had taken hold in my body! Oh well, the only good thing about it happening was that it put me into action with all the natural remedies I had used in the past to see if the duration and severity of the symptoms could be lessened.
I kept up my doses of lysine, 2-500mg (anti viral) caps every 3 to 4 hours and started drinking peppermint tea with honey and lemon trying to keep my nasal passages open. I felt pretty awful on Wednesday with lots of congestion, runny nose, scratchy throat, very tired, some aches and pains (arnica was used for aches and pains). Luckily, I had made a big pot of chicken soup on Sunday which really is good when you are sick and also started taking Nature's Way Sambucus Black Elderberry (anti viral and immune boosting) with my regiment. This got me through to Thursday when I seemed surprisingly better and did much more around the house than I probably should have because by night time, the symptoms were worse. At this point, the nasal drip was causing me to have terrible coughing episodes and I reluctantly went to the only over the counter medicine in my cabinet, " Children's Cold & Allergy Dimetapp." Using as small a dose as possible, 2 - 3 teaspoons, did let me sleep through the night without coughing. Using homeopathic, Hyland's Cold 'n Cough 4 Kids was an alternative on Friday. But it just didn't keep my nasal passages clear the way Dimetapp did. Feeling better, it was used only when really needed and much of the time, Ricola throat drops helped with the cough. Overall though, I was feeling much better. Keeping up my daily routine, I rested only when really necessary, but was also careful not to overdo things.
The weekend came and my symptoms were quickly diminishing. I had forgotten the zinc (helps shorten the duration of a cold) in my cabinet and started taking that. Because it was rainy and cold all weekend, staying inside was the best choice. I hadn't taken any more Dimetapp since Friday and slept fine both Saturday and Sunday nights. There is one more thing I took during the last four mornings, Nutribiotic Gse (Grapefruit Seed Extract). It was purchased to use as a natural germicide in the house. When mixed with water  it is  effective against viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi but can also be taken internally. There are numerous natural remedies, many of which I haven't tried. Someone I know swears by a glass of hot water with lots of fresh lemon juice and a clove of garlic.
When I woke up this morning, I felt as if all my symptoms are gone and have had no problems breathing. Starting with symptoms on a Tuesday and feeling fine by the following Monday, is pretty good in my book! It is great to know that our bodies can recover from colds and flu with natural and immune boosting remedies.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.

Monday, March 10, 2014

THYROID NODULES, NATURAL THERAPY

In 1989 during a yearly exam by my ob/gyn, small lumps in my thyroid were felt and I was referred to an endocrinologist for further investigation. Blood tests and a radioactive iodine scan were performed. This test shows whether the nodule/s are "cold, hot, or warm". It is the cold nodule/s that may be malignant and in fact, only about 10% or less of them are thyroid cancer. Also cancer is less likely with multi nodules than with a single nodule.
It was determined I had multi nodules and they were not cold. That was a relief but the endocrinologist put me on the synthetic thyroid hormone, synthroid to shut down my natural hormones and shrink the nodules. He never offered any other information such as diet, lifestyle and supplements to try and help the problem naturally.
Now this was at a time when I hadn't fully begun my journey into natural therapies and still listened to the "wisdom" of conventional medicine. So I took a dose of synthroid every day, had bloodwork done every six months followed by a visit to the endocrinologist. Some of my physical complaints prior to the nodules diagnosis; sporadic rapid heartbeats, fatigue, some weight gain, early menopause, etc. did not improve while being on the drug.  During 10 years of taking synthroid and a few years into being post menopausal, I had my first bone density done. The test showed osteopenia and with this information in hand, the endocrinologist told me I should be taking hormone replacement therapy, to which I said no. Every visit to his office, he said the same thing until my final visit with him. On that day I was told if I don't take hormone replacement therapy, my body will decline rapidly in every way, along with my quality of life! I left his office angry and swore to never go back. 
It was time to start investigating what to do about my thyroid situation. That is when I learned synthroid may in fact make a person's quality of life worse and can lead to osteoporosis. Just because the drug may make thyroid blood tests fall into a "normal" range, the synthetic chemicals compete with the remaining natural hormones still being produced by the thyroid. If enough T4 hormone is not being produced, using a synthetic alternative should really be a last resort. Combining T4 and T3 (the other thyroid hormone) is also a better therapy and T4 is a drug which is very hard to keep within the optimal dosage range, taking too much or too little will produce numerous side effects. An excellent site for information and details on this subject is Mercola.com and of course, Prescription for Nutritional Healing.
Armed with some much needed information, I went to my GP for a routine exam and asked him about stopping the medication. He said it was OK to do so as long as I slowly wean myself off and that my thyroid would take over again. Within 3 weeks, I was off synthroid and introducing a daily kelp supplement, Nature's Way Kelp to insure getting enough iodine which is the basic substance of thyroid hormone. By then, a good, whole foods multi and extra B vitamins were also part of my routine. My diet was a work in progress and improving all the time adding more organic foods, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting out refined foods, cutting back on sugar, etc. When I went back to my GP in 6 months, my thyroid blood test numbers were within range and I was feeling fine. Having my thyroid functioning well by itself was good, but I also wanted to see if anything could be done naturally to shrink the nodules. Even though, a lot of what I had been reading indicates that nodules in themselves pose no immediate threat unless they grow to a size where swallowing or breathing are affected. Many in fact, do shrink in time. A wait and see approach using ultra sound to keep track of the size, is a good approach. About 4 years ago, the first ultra sound was done on my nodules. After that, I had also added grape seed extract to the antioxidants already in my regiment; vitamin C with bioflavonoids and vitamin E. My second ultra sound done in 2013 showed they had shrunk a little. This was good news! So,I will continue to do what I am doing and have ultra sound scans done every couple years for comparison. Somehow, I think my thyroid, my nodules and me are doing just fine. 

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.


Monday, March 3, 2014

LEG CRAMPS, TREATING NATURALLY

I am always happy to discover some new, natural treatment or therapy that works for a medical issue I have been dealing with. Yes, this alternative way of dealing with my health, is truly a work in progress. It is important to get to know your body and try to "listen" to what it is telling you. It has taken me many years to reach this awareness and realize how very individual our needs are. While good nutrition is important to every one, specific deficiencies are part of our own personal makeup.
The pain of leg or foot muscle cramps, though brief, can be so intense and come at the least expected times including while sleeping. Though they are nothing I have dealt with on a daily basis, I would much rather never experience one again. Over the last two decades, different remedies have helped but never for very long. First, I made sure to take calcium and magnesium as they are important to our muscles and deficiencies are most often the cause of cramping. Drinking enough fluids so as to not experience dehydration, along with gently stretching my muscles became a priority. While helpful, nothing seemed to prevent an onset of cramping. I thought maybe it was from overdoing a physical activity. But again a cramp would occur even if I was inactive for a period of time.
I looked into homeopathic remedies and started taking Hyland's Leg Cramps w/ Quinine formula which seemed to help ease the cramp more quickly. Rubbing arnica gel on the affected muscle also afforded some relief. Something I learned just a couple months ago from an episode of Dr. Oz seems quirky, but also helps bring quick relief. As soon as you feel a cramp coming on, tightly pinch the area between you upper lip under your nose. I think it has something to do with acupressure.
Finding some relief from the cramps was certainly welcomed. But why was I
having them in the first place? Trying to treat the source of a problem is always a better option than simply treating the symptom. Two weeks ago, I started taking extra magnesium. After all these years, maybe my body needed more than it was getting with the calcium/magnesium supplements and my diet, but I just hadn't figured it out. Adding 130 mg of Source Naturals Magnesium Citrate at lunch and dinner seems to have made a big difference with not one foot or leg cramp during the last two weeks. Time will tell if the extra magnesium is indeed what has helped most. But for now, I'm just enjoying the relief!

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

MOUTH HEALTH, NATURAL CARE

My last post mentioned the benefits of taking a probiotic for the digestive tract. This led me to briefly discuss how it proved to be important in the very beginning where it all starts, the mouth. I am so pleased with the changes it made for me along with another few products.
My childhood was not a good time for my teeth! As a child in the 50's, there was way too much candy, soda, cookies/cakes as part of my diet. This set me up for many fillings, especially my back teeth/molars. By the time I started going to my current dentist, 24 years ago, the teeth with many fillings, couldn't be filled any more. At this point, some caps were needed and I really wanted that to be the first and last of my experience with them. I was in my early 40's and still getting occasional cavities along with the worry that my gum health wasn't as good as it should be. But it was by chance that everything started to turn around and improve. This was due to the probiotic I started taking about 17 years ago.
Decades ago, the information about avoiding cavities was to brush your teeth 2 or 3 times a day and not eat too much sugar. For the longest time I believed it was the sugar alone that caused cavities. But even for some people who are so careful with sugar consumption and brush regularly, too many cavities are still a problem. In fact, tooth decay is not a natural process, but a bacterial disease. Bad bacteria in the mouth combine with food debris and mucus to form a sticky substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of our teeth. Sugar is what these bacteria feed on producing an acid which leeches calcium and phosphate from the teeth leading to erosion of the enamel. This is the perfect storm for tooth decay. Having higher than normal levels of bacteria present or saliva that is too acidic makes a person more prone to tooth decay.
Taking a probiotic provides good bacteria to my mouth which keeps the bad bacteria at bay. I was also in the process of changing my diet in so many ways: eating organic foods as much as possible; eliminating white flour, rice and sugar; consuming more fruits and vegetables and learning how to keep my body more alkaline and less acid (this will be discussed in another post). The introduction of calcium with magnesium around this same time frame has also helped strengthen my teeth. Within a few years, I had just one tiny cavity a year. It has been about 10 years now with no cavities! My gums also have become very healthy over time. This is so important for keeping our teeth stable and is all too often a major problem as we age.
The use of Co Q10 supplementation is, I feel, the major reason for my healthy gums. I added this to my routine about 10 years ago after reading the important role it plays with every cell in our body and heart health. We have so much less of it as we age so I started taking 100 mg a day of a quality brand. Just recently I have changed to taking Doctor's Best Best Ubiquinol, which is a form of Co Q10 more readily utilized by the body. Seven years ago, I read of CoQ10's benefits to our gums and started seeing it added to many natural based mouth products such as toothpaste and mouth rinse. Please avoid regular mouth washes as they contain alcohol which kills the much needed good bacteria. As with just about every other aspect, good mouth health starts inside our body through diet and supplementation. The last item to mention is one I have given to every member of my family, Mouth Tonic Herbs Etc. This liquid herbal was a great find for the occasional canker/mouth ulcer, biting the inside cheek or lip, flossing the gum too hard, etc. A few drops of this remedy on the sore spot provides pain relief along with faster healing. 
The toothpaste I use is made with all natural ingredients and there are many wonderful brands available. Daily flossing is also a must. The one thing I am still researching is a good natural teeth whitener. The commercial products available contain hydrogen peroxide. While it aids in whitening the teeth, it may also weaken the enamel. When I find a product that is effective and safe, I'll be sure to post it. But I am so pleased with my routine dental checkups when the dentist says, "Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!"

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.