Healing Without Steroids - More Thoughts From Determined2BWell

Since posting my first story, I have thought of several more things I have used for healing which I want to share.

More about homeopathy: I wanted to say that I am also impressed with how inexpensive the remedies are. Typical remedy comes in a small dispenser with 30 little pellets. They are, I believe, a sugar base that is coated with the diluted substance. One packet has cost me less than $10. Instructions are usually to take one or two of these and dissolve them in a half glass of pure water and then take just one teaspoonful. It might be days or weeks in between taking a dose, so the half glass has lasted me for months in the refrigerator. Since my practitioner is an MD, I am able to get his services covered mostly through insurance. (Though I am over 65, I am still working part-time and lucky to have private insurance.)

More about nutrition:
I want to say, three years ago I followed Kathy Abascal's book very closely. I had lost 20 pounds, was down to my best weight and in great shape. That winter was the best in years immunity wise; I did not get sick and stay sick for weeks, I got a cold and got over it quickly. But, after that I had more stress as my mother entered a nursing facility and I stopped making myself good wholesome food, went back to the quick unhealthier choices. I gained weight again, and felt less healthy. I wonder now, if I had not strayed from that healthy eating, if I would have gotten this condition. This book provides a really good explanation of inflammation - what it is, why we get it, what to do to relieve it.

Water: I have been very intentional about drinking lots of water. I believe that it is essential to drink lots of water, to help the body flush toxins. Some nights recently, I have been experiencing an extreme dry mouth. I assume it is a sign that my body is trying to flush out toxins, and drink copious amounts of water, even though I know I will then have to get out of bed and make the trip to the bathroom, sometimes several times. Then, the next night all is normal again. It is all in support of my body's way to heal.  I will sometimes add a homeopathic anti-inflammatory to my water called Traumeel, made in Germany and widely available. 

I limit diuretics like coffee. Instead, I love herbal teas, particularly healing ones from Tea of Life, Yogi tea, and Good Earth brands. When I got some congestion after giving in to fried chicken over the holidays, giving myself a gluten whammy, I got relief from teas which help with breathing.

Also, we've been making 'green smoothies' for breakfast. My first exposure to them, I said to my friend, 'you are offering me green slime for breakfast, you've got to be kidding!' but since then, I've found that the smoothie is actually pretty tasty, with lots of fresh fruit. Here's a typical recipe for 3:
2 1/2 cups pure water
3 Tbs ground flax seed
3 Tbs oat bran
big dash of cinnamon
4 cups of combination of greens, e.g. organic kale or spinach
3-4 cups of fresh fruit, preferably organic - we like pineapple, mango, pear, apple and usually have at least two, plus one small banana - adds good texture. If you like your smoothies really cold, use frozen fruit.
Blend together in a sturdy blender.  My husband likes to thin his portion with some almond milk.

I also take several supplements, besides my Chinese herbs. Omega 3 and 6 (both 3 and 6 because my nutritionist counselor says I don't eat the typical American processed foods which give most Americans an overload of 6's so I need both), which are good for nerves. I also take vitamin B6, 100mg 2x a day - this is essential for healing carpal tunnel; a really good brand of multivitamin, and turmeric with bromelain from Now foods, a natural anti inflammatory.

About ibuprofen and NSAIDs:
Here is a quote from a good website on inflammation (but I found out we can’t post website links):
Newer studies are finding that instead of speeding recovery from muscular injury, ingestion of traditional NSAIDs may actually slow the process for several days as protein synthesis (tissue healing) is delayed (Medinfo 2008)

For this reason, I am keeping my use of ibuprofen to a minimum, having cut back to taking one instead of two, 3x a day, and now only take one, and for the rest of the day I use Traumeel, a homeopathic remedy, which you can take as a tablet, drops in water, or use the ointment applied to where the pain is, if it's localized.

Eye doctor: Even though I didn't have any signs of the eye disease Giant Cell Arteritis that can be part of PMR, I did go for a checkup and my doctor found my eyes healthy. It was a relief to hear this.

There is a website called Mark’s daily apple which I have found helpful in answering my question, which is: will exercise help or just increase inflammation? Basically, he writes that mild exercise is good for decreasing inflammatory markers in research tests.

I have found that this issue, along with so much of this, is more of an art. I need to tune in very carefully to my body and decide what will be good for me, in my current condition of the day. My condition changes daily, some up, some down, but the long arc is definitely up. I had gotten well to the point I had signed up for the track at our gym and was so happy to be back exercising 1/2 hour a day. Then, after 10 days going 3x a week, I had a flare up in the muscles surrounding my knees, especially the right one. I was limping and haven't been back yet, but with osteopathy, cold packs and a bit of walking I am again getting better and will begin seeing a physical therapist for the rest of the way. I can't wait to get back to the gym!! Before all this started, I was a member of a hiking meetup and had achieved hiking for 4 hours at a time a few times. Two years ago, visiting a good friend in Phoenix, we climbed a small mountain, navigating switchback trails. It took us a good hour to get to the top, and I really had felt on top of the world.

I believe that I need all the kinds of exercise - cardio, stretching and weights. That is what I learned from my sessions with a personal trainer, and what my doc also tells me. When I had really bad stiffness, I found stretching to be a huge relief.

I warm up my muscles in the morning with a hot shower, during which I do some stretching and some of my OT exercises for the carpal tunnel. I think it helps a lot to warm the muscles first, either with the warm shower or with some mild stretching. When I was healing my carpal tunnel, my Osteopathic doctor had me doing something called a contrast bath, which is shifting from immersing the hand in hot water then ice water and back, for about 4 rounds. When my hand was in the hot water, I was able to do the hand exercises more easily. It really helped reduce the swelling.

It seems to me that the flare ups happen to different muscle groups, and once they rampage through a muscle and then heal, they don't tend to flare in that muscle again. My thighs were really bad, early on, and my hips, but now they have been fine for months. And now, my knee muscles. Why? Who knows. I just keep feeling that 'this too will pass' and it seems to work out that way. In fact, they are getting better as I write this over a few days.

Rest: I have the luxury of being able to sleep as long as I want, most days, and do. My homeopathic doc, is also an ayurvedic practitioner and she strongly advised me to get to bed by 9pm, which is when my body needs to begin resting. If I stay up later, I don't get into the good deep sleep I need. I really feel that the more I listen to the need for rest (balanced with exercise), the more I am healing.

More healers and modalities:
I have had Healing Touch sessions with a wonderful nurse who offers these sessions. She is grounded in good sense, not a flake, which I am wary about - again, being basically a child of 'modern' science. The field of 'energy medicine' is expanding and becoming more accepted, and making more sense to me.

I have friends also, who are impressed with the modality called Touch for Health. I can't find a practitioner in my area but have bought the book. It's an enormous amalgam of eastern and western healing, but it totally makes sense to me. I haven't begun to understand it all, but I did turn to the pages about stopping muscle spasms and have used some of the techniques, especially early on, and they really worked to calm a painful muscle. It is called the 'spindle cell technique' and goes like this: You identify which muscle is in spasm, then go to the 'belly' of the muscle, that is, the center. You take your thumb and index finger, and gently rub the skin, lengthwise to the muscle, towards the center in a kind of 'pinching' motion, but don't pinch, just brush the skin, and don't push into the muscle. Do this a few times. Apparently that wakes up the muscle to 'know' that it is contracting. Then you do the opposite, with your fingertips together at the middle of the muscle, and brushing outwards, to signal the muscle to lengthen. When it works, it's a huge help.

I have gone to massage, not as often as I'd like, but paying out of pocket for acupuncture and other expenses leaves my budget a bit thin for this, though I know that it can be really helpful in releasing toxins and healing inflammation. I hope to do it more regularly.

Enjoying life:
I find that my mental attitude is so incredibly important.  Here I’d like to share what I feel is a major divide between ‘alternative’ approaches to healing such as homeopathy or acupuncture, and Western medicine as it has come to be practiced currently.  In mainstream medicine, we are told that we are being ‘invaded’ by viruses causing the flu etc., we are ‘under attack’ from within by cancer cells, we ‘fight off’ a cold, or a disease.  The language and the attitude behind the language lead us to feel in conflict when we are sick.  We thus naturally look for the strongest ‘weapon’ to ‘fight’ the disease, willing to turn to strong drugs such as steroids, radiation, surgery not knowing there are possible other ways to heal, or at least to aid in healing.  I am not against drugs or surgery, they can be miracle workers too, but I feel a need for balance, for including all modalities.  In my mind I have come to think of homeopathy and acupuncture as my mainstream, with conventional medicine as the 'alternative' when other methods fail. 

What I am learning about Eastern medicine and homeopathy is that disease is looked upon as an imbalance, a lack of harmony that goes deeply into our very being.  It is less caused by an ‘invasion’ as an internal weakness, something in our internal or external environment which has stopped us from having a positive flow of energy, a strong and healthy immune system.  Our energy is directed not towards fighting an invader, as caring well for ourselves, identifying imbalances and bringing back harmony.  The homeopathic remedies stimulate our bodies to regain balance and natural healing ability.  Eastern medicine, herbal teas for instance, do similar things.   Acupuncture gently reminds the body to move its energy or ‘xi’ to regain strength and harmony.  It is peaceful, energizing, and brings integration, and none of these come with a cost of harmful side effects.  It feels to me much like the difference between settling disputes between countries with war, with all the toll on human lives and the environment, versus diplomacy, using resources for improving people’s lives, and building communication.  What a difference in my own energy and my outlook between feeling like I have to fight, or that I can participate in bringing healing to my body.

And I feel so much more alive, even if I am hurting, if I have friends and family to look forward to seeing and activities that I relish.  This is what has motivated me to spend a few hours writing to you, in hopes you can find some new ideas about healing, and most of all, hope.  I look forward to learning from you as well.
May each of you find your own best pathways to healing!

An Ep User An EP User
Jan 15, 2013