Tuesday, April 23, 2013


OSTEOARTHRITIS AND NATURAL REMEDIES

It is not often that I think, "would've, could've, should've". But in this post on osteoarthritis, it will all be said. If I could have known the importance of properly caring for my joints I would have taken the right steps nutritionally including vitamins and supplements to insure their health for future years. But I will plead ignorance to what I should have done and say that gratefully, it wasn't too late for me.
In my 20's and 30's I was raising a family and taking care of a household pretty much on my own. This involved a lot of physical activity both inside and outside the house. With a diet that wasn't the best nutritionally and overexertion of my body, I soon started developing numerous joint aches and pains. They seemed to take turns in my body's different joints. One day my fingers would hurt, another day it was my knees, neck or shoulders. Tylenol became a daily part of my life. Finally, in my late 30's I was in the doctor's office looking for answers. Routine blood work was done and also testing for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc. The tests came back negative, I was told it was osteoarthritis and a prescription for Naproxen was ordered. A few times I had steroid shots in my thumb and index finger because they were swollen and difficult to bend. This was my treatment for a couple years. But the Naproxen was causing a lot of gastrointestinal problems for me and I had to stop taking it.  
At the end of my 30th decade and into my early 40s I started listening to a radio show with an alternative doctor. It was all so new to me and my upbringing on traditional medicine. But slowly, so much of what he said made complete sense to me. This was when I first heard about the use of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate to not only ease the inflammation and pain in joints, but help reverse and repair the degenerative process! These substances are classified as amino sugars and are used in the structure of body tissues including tendons, ligaments, bones, skin and joints. I started taking the supplements and currently use, drs. best glucosamine & chondroitin Within a month, improvement started. Not only was I finding relief from the discomfort and pain in my joints, but further destruction was being halted while cartilage was being rebuilt. Now, almost 25 years later, they are a daily part of my vitamin and supplement regiment. 
It is important to take them regularly and consistently. Our joints take a beating for years, it stands to reason they can't be repaired over night. In cases where there is very little cartilage left in a joint, there may not be a chance for improvement. But I know for a fact that the cartilage in my knees is in pretty good shape. Both times the meniscus was torn in my knees, the MRIs showed very little loss or degeneration of the cartilage in either knee. 
An excellent book on osteoarthritis is The Arthritis Cure by Jason Theodosakis, MD. It goes into great detail on the subject and also discusses the use of ASU which is derive from avocado and soybean oils. I used this product when experiencing the meniscus tear in my right knee. Taking MSM supplements every day has also enhanced the health of my joints by relieving inflamation
There are many other natural treatments for osteoarthritis discomfort and pain but I am not sure of anything else that actually helps rebuild cartilage like glocosamine and chondroitin. The sooner a person starts taking care of and halting damage to their joints, the better. I am pleased to say that being physically active in my 60's and not facing joint replacements, is something I am grateful for each day.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2013
 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PAIN RELIEF WITH NATURAL REMEDIES

It has taken quite a few years to find natural pain relievers that work for me and my specific problems/conditions. But knowing I am not using anything that could cause undesirable side effects, has made it worth the time and effort. Before I go into detail about my remedies, here is a reminder about over-the-counter pain medication. 
The non steroidal pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) can cause serious gastrointestinal problems if taken for long periods of time. In addition to doing nothing beneficial for the actual problem and masking the pain they can also lead to liver damage. Stronger prescription pain relievers such as Naproxen and Celebrex are even potentially more dangerous.
Up until about 20 years ago, I also used Tylenol on an almost daily basis for my aches and pains. But transitioning into alternative medicine led me to the first natural pain reliever I tried, white willow bark. It actually contains compounds from which aspirin is derived but without the harmful side effects. It was very helpful for relieving my headaches, backaches and joint pain, all of which I was experiencing on a regular basis. But it should not be used during pregnancy, only because it may interfere with the absorption of iron and other minerals. Also, people with an allergy to aspirin should not take it. At this time, I was also becoming religious with taking glucosamine and chondroitin for my joints and know that after a matter of months, joint pain was becoming less and less.
But my tendons and ligaments were a different story. So the next natural remedy I started was for the different types of tendinitis that started to plague me. Tennis elbow was the first and so painful that I couldn't even touch my elbow. Of course after my GP diagnosed it, he wrote me a prescription for Naproxen. After taking only a few pills, my digestive tract was so distressed, that I had to seek other pain relief. It was then I discovered MSM which stands for methylsulfonylmethan, a natural substance present in the human body and food. This turned out to be so effective that it became, and still is, a regular in my vitamin/supplement regiment. Using a topical cream with MSM and glucosamine is also very helpful. When the pain flared in intensity I used DMSO topically, which is derived from trees and MSM is made from it. These became the staples of my treatment plans while suffering with tendonitis, plantar fascitis, torn meniscus, back problems, etc. Along with not being harmful, MSM is beneficial to all types of inflammation in the body. But I learned to be patient for relief as these natural remedies are not the "magic bullet" like traditional medications.
The last pain reliever I will discuss is the homeopathic wonder, Arnica montana. After discovering this gem about 10 years ago, I am never without it! Taken in pellet form under the tongue, it relieves minor muscle or joint aches and pains, strains, sprains, bruised, backache or over exertion. I use the 30c potency 3 to 4 times a day if I have physically over exerted myself and find it quite helpful. My younger daughter used only this as pain relief during both of her home births! But the real gem of Arnica is when used in cream or gel form, such as Boiron Arnicare Arnica Gel and everyone should have it on hand. The moment after you bump or bruise yourself, applying it topically will not only help reduce swelling and pain, but also keep the area from turning black and blue (or at least keep it to a minimum)! There is always a tube of the gel form in my house and handbag. 
While there are many other natural pain relievers, these are the ones I have used and still use the most for all of my needs. Please don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have questions about the remedies, dosages I use, etc.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2013
 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

TORN MENISCUS, NATURAL TREATMENTS
Oh, the pain of a torn meniscus, not once but twice. My first experience occurred in 2005 with my left knee. It is the type of injury that may not always be evident at the time of an injury. Mine wasn’t, even though I do think stretching the wrong way while up on a ladder painting, caused the meniscus tear. The pain upon walking was quite bad, driving (my car has a stick shift), certain positions sleeping, etc. After a week of pain, I went to my GP and he ordered a MRI. This confirmed the tear and I was referred to an orthopedic doctor.
Before my visit, I researched the condition and found some treatments I would and wouldn’t do. A lot of what I learned wasn’t very hopeful for the main fact that the meniscus only has a blood supply on its outer ¼ area. If the tear occurs there, a surgical repair is most likely successful. But if a tear happens in the non vascular area, usually arthroscopic surgery will be performed. This procedure cleans away any shaggy cartilage to offer pain releif. Though once cartilage is removed, it doesn’t grow back. Most people who have this done, will be candidates for knee replacements about 10 years down the road so this was not an acceptable procedure for me. But I did consider a treatment such as implanting cartilage cells which have been harvested from your own knee, cultured and multiplied. Only it wasn't covered by my medical insurance and is quite costly. The day of my orthopedic exam proved very disappointing. After looking over my MRI report, the doctor dismissed trying to repair the tear because of my age and then mentioned the arthroscopic surgery as a solution. I said thanks, but no thanks. He wasn’t very happy with me and wanted to send me on my way with a prescription for pain pills and an anti inflammatory. I pushed a little further and asked if I could have physical therapy or if there were exercises that might be helpful. He told me a few exercises to do lying on the bed to strengthen the ligaments around the knee and sent me on my way. Instead of filling the prescriptions, I started taking Jarrow Formulas MSM 4 times a day, used a
topical cream Natrol MSM & Glucosamine Crème and exercised my knee. After about one month, improvement was evident and I was hopeful. Another couple months passed and most of the pain was gone, just one spot remained tender to the touch.
Four years went by and the torn meniscus in my left knee was just a memory until, I tore the meniscus in my right knee! This time the MRI showed it was much worse than my left knee had been. Armed with my past experience, I was again off to an orthopedic visit. This time, I was pleasantly surprised by the doctor’s response. At first, he started to tell me the extent of the tear and damage, not sounding very hopeful. But then, he looked at me saying, “You look like the kind of person who takes care of herself, so I’m going to tell you some natural treatments to try”. First on the list was a stationary bike, two times a day for ten minutes. He explained to have it set on the least resistance and that it doesn’t put any pressure on the knee but instead acts to wear down the jagged edges of the cartilage much like the ocean making a rough rock smooth. Next, keep the area warm, especially in cold weather. To this day, I wear leg warmers under my sweats or jeans until I am too hot to keep them on. Lastly, take glucosamine and chondroitin every day. He himself has been taking the supplements for years, had a torn meniscus and did not have arthroscopic surgery! This was such a positive, natural approach and gave me just the right direction to head in.
I had already been taking Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM for years but read through a book called, The Arthritis Cure then found my dosage was incorrect. My caps were spaced out 2 or 3 times a day. Instead, it is important to take the full amount at the same time once a day. The book states, “The general dose for an adult is 1,500mg of glucosamine and 1,200mg of chondroitin once daily, with or without food.” 


Also in the book is a product discussed
called ASU, derived from avocados and soy beans. This was added to my regimen, purchased from Dr. Theo's website www.drtheo.com/supplements/. I recommend the book highly for its information on osteoarthritis. After only one month, my knee was greatly improved and when I was pain free a few months later, I wrote the orthopedic doctor a letter on my progress and thanked him for this wonderful approach to healing a torn meniscus.
While recovering from my second bout with a torn meniscus, I made a promise to myself. Not if, but when my knee was pain free, I would be forever grateful just to go for walks again. That happened, my walks have increased, along with yoga and activities and I am still, forever grateful. 
November 1, 2018
My most recent post discussed dealing with the pain from a torn hip labrum which I feel, is quite like a torn meniscus. They are both a kind of cushion in the joints and both can sustain tears. I dealt with the pain for over 2 1/2 years until it was finally diagnosed this past July and my course of action became very similar to healing my torn meniscus years ago. 
I wanted to add the information to this post because of what helped me get through some very tough times with pain. First was a TENS unit, Endurance Therapeutics Aurawave TENS Unit Machine/Muscle Stimulator for Pain Management which was wonderful for easing some of the discomfort and helping with tight muscles from my lower back through my thighs. It still helps me anytime I feel somewhere tight or hurting on my body and have used it from my shoulders to my knees and lower legs. While there are many different kinds, this one has been great for me. It doesn't need to be plugged in, runs on batteries, so it can be helping me when I am up and busy or sitting.
While the TENS was a good tool for natural pain relief, in April I decided to purchase a Quell unit which was advertised on TV and magazines, 
  Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology Starter Kit It is an amazing product that offers pain relief throughout the body and is just worn on either calf. Being rechargeable, no batteries are involved and the intensity can be adjusted. It automatically goes on for an hour, then off for an hour all day long and can even be worn at night. Happily my torn labrum has improved so much that I don't need the TENS or Quell every day. But if I am having a rough day or have overdone physical activity, my natural pain relievers are there for me. 
But please note that the signals from these devices, both the TENS and Quell, can interfere with the normal operation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). It is best to consult with your physician if you have any kind of implants.
Also remember that while you may experience pain relief as I have, please don't overdue activity and possibly hinder the healing process of your torn meniscus.

                                                                    

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2013

LYSINE AND HERPES/SHINGLES, AN UPDATE  

I felt it would be beneficial to update my first blog regarding Herpes/Shingles and the use of lysine. Over the last couple of months, I have upped my lysine to 500mg three times a day. This has come about after realizing that getting older has not guaranteed my dealing with stress any better than I did 20 or 30 years ago and stress is almost always a trigger for me and a shingles outbreak. I may think I am dealing with it better but my body lets me know that I am not. So I found myself on the “verge” of a shingles outbreak at least once a month, sometimes 2 or 3. This prompted me to do the lysine 3 times a day and has really been working in preventing an outbreak. That is, until yesterday. I had done a few physical projects during the week and then found myself in an emotional upheaval on top of that. By yesterday, the nagging, stabbing pain was starting to erupt over my left eyebrow area and I did not want it to become full blown. So, every hour I took 500mg of lysine and did so about 3 times. Then I went to every 2 hours and continued through the night, keeping water and lysine caps by my bedside. Sleeping was virtually pain free. There was no pain upon awakening and then only the slightest twinge once or twice during the day. That was it! I also did not lack for energy and have been busy all day. Plus, there have been no side effects from taking this amount of lysine. In fact, most of my research shows no harm in taking large doses of this miracle amino enzyme when needed. Hope this information has been helpful and will aid in your battle against Herpes/Shingles.
Also, I have opted not to receive a Shingles vaccine as I feel there has not been enough research or long term studies done for possible side effects.


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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2013