Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Elderberry for pain relief.

What is Elderberry?

Elderberry is a plant. The berries are used to make medicine. Not o be confused with American Elder, Elderflower, or Dwarf Elder.  The Elderberry shrub generally matures to about 3 meters tall and produces yellow and white flowers in early summer, followed by deep blue or black berries which generally ripen around September.

Tip:(If you know what it is and what it can do you can skip down to the bottom to see if it helped or not)

Some people use elderberry for hay fever , cancer, as a laxative for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating. 
Due to their diuretic and detoxifying properties, some people eat elderberries to lose weight. The flowers have been used in cosmetics since ancient times. Distilled elder flower water softens, tone and restores the skin. Elder flower infusion cleanses the skin, lightens freckles, and soothes sunburn. Its Bioflavinoids promote circulation and strengthen the capillaries.

Elderberry fruit is also used for making wine and as a food flavoring.

Elderberry jam or jelly holds many minerals & vitamins , particularly vitamin B17. Elderberry helps to boost and maintain the immune & respiratory systems. Its flower accommodate three very good sources of potassium plus viburnic acid (beneficial for asthma an bronchitis), vitamin A, vitamin C, volatile oils and bioflavonoids. A daily dose can assist you in preventing both acute and chronic disease.

Elderberry is used for "the flu" (influenza), H1N1 "swine" flu, HIV/AIDS, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain(sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Elderberry is believed to retains therapeutic uses an anti-inflammatory, diuretic , and immuno-stimulant, as an herbal remedy. Infusions of the fruit are efficacious for nerve problems, back pain, and have been taken to ebb inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.

Ripened elderberries can be used like some other berries in fruit pies, muffins, and jams. The dried flowers can also be steeped in water to prepare elderberry tea and the berries mashed to make elderberry juice. 

There has not been enough "research" to prove if Elderberry helps with some of these, but it has been shown to reduce mucus during a cold, and boost immunity. For me if that was all it did I'd still have it!

You can just ask those who have used it. Many people make elderberry syrup for flu season and swear by it. There are endless recipes to make it home, and it is sold in most pharmacy chains, on line vitamin and supplement companies, and retailers.
 I decided to do my own experiment on this. Not a very extensive one, just starting with the non threatening tea.

Benefits of Elderberry Tea

  • It is ideal for treating colds and the flu.

  • Helps cure bronchitis.

  • It aids with asthma, coughing and it is used as a treatment for allergies.

  • Brings down fevers, as it makes you sweat.

  • It is a tea that has an anti-inflammatory effect.

  • It generally improves your immune system as it acts as an antioxidant and a tonic to clear your system.

  • The anthocyanins present also give this tea antioxidant protection against cellular aging.

  • Tea made from the root can be used as a laxative.

  • Helps the kidneys function by ridding the body of toxins.

  • It may help with arthritic and rheumatic pains.

  • Elderberry extract reduces the effects of LDL, the bad cholesterol.

  • It may be good for children with the measles and chicken pox.

Sadly I did not take a "before" picture as I remembered after I started that its better to have pictures to go along with the post. Woops, that happens a lot.

To the meat...

Steep them for a few minutes and had it as hot tea. It was surprisingly NOT offensive! I dont know why I expected it to be awful but it's probably because I can be a big fat pessimist. (ME?!) Pfft..
Well it was good. No complaints. I decided to try it with maple syrup..

That actually made it not as pleasant. I have no way to describe it other than it tasted..well..I have no real description. If I had a gun to my head I'd say it tasted "dirty" but there's no way anyone can possibly know what that means for me...

Next I tried it again with raw honey. That was worse than the maple syrup. It left a bitter taste after it went down which made me not want to drink anymore.

Tried sugar and it was the worst out of all of them. Bitter going down, bitter after taste, and it didn't taste the same as it started out . I was just barely able to get that one down! 

So lesson learned with the hot tea. Don't mess with nature because she got it right the first time. It doesn't need anything as far as I'm concerned. Of course we all have different tastes so go ahead and try yourself. I did read that mint is good but I was out at the time, which is a shame because fresh organic mint is something I have on hand almost always.

 Then I tried it iced. Same outcome. I didn't know if  cold vs hot would make a difference but it does sometimes with coffee so I tried. Basically the same result. I enjoyed much more without adding a thing to it other than the ice. 

So here is the result after being steeped. I used the leaves, bark, flowers and berries. You can also use elderberry syrup to make elderberry tea. 

On to the actual Experiment
I tried one cup of tea in the morning and one cup at night. 
Week 1. I did not notice any difference in pain levels or inflammation.
Week 2. I decided to do 3 cups a day. Morning, noon and night. It seemed I was able to get moving around in the morning a little faster than usual. I was not able to pinpoint at this point why. I did not need my morning coffee to wake up and I was less stiff. 
Week 3. My pain did seem a little less. Not significant like from an 8 down to a 2...more like an 8 down to a 6. But I'll take anything I can get! 
Week 4. It seemed to hold steady as in week 3
I do wonder if I did more than 3 cups if I would see better results, or with using elderberry syrup instead. I have since run out and I am trying to decide if I will do tea again, try extract or syrup. 
I will update when this experiment continues.

The key points for trying Elderberry for people in pain:
  • It's anti-inflammatory properties are supposed to help reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis and other diseases.
  • It's known to help increase immunity
  • Detoxifying properties
  • Promotes circulation
  • Shown to help prevent viruses from being able to attack the cells in the body
  • Traditional(European) uses of Elderberry juice include relieving low back pain and chronic pain

It is always best to speak with your Dr. and/or your Pharmacist....The Pharmacist should know the most about interactions with medications.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is it Fibromyalgia, CFS or Gluten sensitivity ?

The symptoms of fibromyalgia, from  the Mayo ClinicAbout Health, CDC and Johns Hopkins include:
  • Widespread Body pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness 
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Numbness and Tingling Sensations (Peripheral Neuropathy) in the hands and feet
  • Brain Fog 
  • Morning Stiffness
  • Chemical Sensitivity
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Skin Problems
  • Joint Disorder
  • Urinary Problems
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Nausea
  • Memory Loss
  • Vision Problems
  • Weight Gain
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Cognitive problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog")
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog")                                  
  • Sensitivity to temperature, light, and noise                                                                        
  • TMJ syndrome                                                                                                                   
  • Morning stiffness                                                                                                               
  • Urinary problems

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms just from the CDC website and Mayo Clinic alone include:
  • Problems with sleep
  • Difficulties with memory and concentration
  • Persistent muscle pain
  • Joint pain (without redness or swelling)
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
  • Sore throat
  • Brain fog (feeling like you're in a mental fog)
  • Difficulty maintaining an upright position, dizziness, balance problems or fainting
  • Allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise
  • Irritable bowel
  • Chills and night sweats
  • Visual disturbances (sensitivity to light, blurring, eye pain)
  • Depression or mood problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpit
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
  • Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

Now, lets look at the symptoms of Gluten intolerance or sensitivity from any number of sources:
Take the Quiz

  •  Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation.
  •  Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms).
  •  Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
  •  Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
  •  Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
  •  Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
  •  Headaches and migraines
  • Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
  • Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings 
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis
You can clearly see an overlap in a multitude of symptoms. Can anyone be clear when you look at it this way? Even a doctor? 
Of course there are some who may have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, or any number of other things.. when in fact its a Gluten sensitivity. 
If only there were a doctor who suggested they go gluten free for 60 days they may be able to find that out.

You cannot get tested for Fibromyalgia as a general rule, (although there are some suggestions that you may in fact be able to). You can read that here and here.

But you can get tested for a wheat allergy, or even a sensitivity
After scouring the internet I have yet to find actual statistics on the misdiagnosis rates of Fibromyalgia. We do know for a fact a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is commonly overlooked  because some physicians  are not familiar with the disorder, and because it can can mimic symptoms of other conditions. These include rheumatoid arthritisosteoarthritis,Hashimotos Lyme diseaselupus, and somatoform disorder, and even chronic back pain.

The best thing to do is eliminate gluten and see if this helps with your symptoms. If it helps a lot as it has with some people it does not necessarily mean you do not have Fibromyalgia, or CFS. It could just be that the gluten is causing your symptoms to be worse. 
If you are thinking about going gluten free here are some good points of reference. 

The Gluten-Free Diet Cheat-Sheet: How to Go G-Free
9 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-Free

The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gluten and Fibromyalgia Pain

Well, a question that gets asked a lot on my fb page is if going gluten free helps fibro symptoms. There are no rules. For some, yes absolutely it does. For others, not at all. So your best bet is to try being very strict when eliminating gluten and also anything that can be potentially cross reactive) for a period of  60 days just to see what happens. 
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Polish Wheat
  • Oats (2 different cultivars)
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Hemp
  • Teff
  • Soy
  • Milk (Alpha-Casein, Beta-Casein, Casomorphin, Butyrophilin, Whey Protein and whole milk)
  • Chocolate
  • Yeast
  • Coffee (instant, latte, espresso, imported)
  • Sesame
  • Tapioca (a.k.a. cassava or yucca)
  • Eggs
While not all people with gluten sensitivities will also be sensitive to all of these foods, they should be highlighted as high risk for stimulating the immune system.

Gluten sensitivity is NOT a wheat allergy. Some people are gluten sensitive or intolerant without having Celiac disease. And not know it because traditional gluten intolerance blood testing looks for only one of SIX polypeptides in wheat, (gliadin). There are FIVE others: wheat germ agglutinin, glteomorphin, glteuinin, prodynorphin and omega gliadin. Any one or combination of these can cause a reaction. Evidence started to show years ago that gluten can promote inflammation even without having an allergy or sensitivity.  

For those people  gluten may cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and bloating, irritability and sudden, irrational mood swings. There can be issues such as abdominal cramping, painful or frequent gas, constipation and diarrhea. Also there may be neurological issues including dizziness, difficulty balancing, pain, weakness and tingling or numbness in the extremities.

If these symptoms lessen or some are even eliminated after removing gluten you may have a sensitivity. Your Fibromyalgia and pain symptoms may feel better in general simply because you have less of any or all of the above mentioned symptoms. That does not mean that going gluten free cures Fibromyalgia, but it can certainly effect the severity of your symptoms. 

For some who have given it a honest shot and truly saw no change, reduction in any severity of symptoms, well gluten free is just not the answer. But rest assured there are many other diets out there to try, all proving for some to be very beneficial. Some even say life changing. 

I myself tried gluten free and felt no difference in my pain levels, or much of anything else for that matter. But when I reintroduced it I had severe bloating, constipation and gas immediately. I felt full, heavy and uncomfortable. Without even realizing it there was a difference. And after feeling NOT bloated and crampy...then I noticed. 
So while there is still no real relief directly as far as Fibromyalgia goes, I can now say my GI/IBS issues are not a result of or just "another" symptom of the Fibromyalgia, or CFS or anything else. So I stay gluten free for that. (SSSHHH) Except when I am confronted with the BEST onion rings I have ever had, ever.  Those I will get crampy for and thank heaven what I have in NOT an allergy.
No I am not proud of it

One good thing if you have to or choose to go gluten free is that there are many more options available to you than there were years ago. I still remember when gf was new to me (seems like forever ago) there were very little items on the shelf and what products were there all tasted like "cardboard". And that was real. It all tasted like cardboard. Now years later we have websites, blogs, restaurants and food companies all realizing there is money ..ah hem..I mean to say... they are realizing there is a  NEED. They have stepped up their game and come up with better tasting products, more products, and in more locations. 
The internet, blogs and Pinterest have tons of recipes all your fingertips so you don't have to eat cardboard! 
You can even find gluten free beer! Wait. WHAT!! 

You just need to do a little research, read a lot of labels and enjoy this next step to finding new food, better health and hopefully fewer aches and pains!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

When you have a bad day...

When you have a bad day you feel weak, embarrassed, old, inferior and unequal. 

Even though I expect it, I explain it to people, and I know intellectually that it happens, I still get surprised and extremely frustrated when I get hit with a bad day. I have come to think that if I am not in a flare I am having a good day. Period. And since it is so long in between flares, I sometimes even feel I may be getting "better". Then emotionally, even after 10 years I am confused and a little shocked. I get angry. I get discouraged and I wonder if its something I ate, if I did too much house work, have too much stress or didn't take all my vitamins and my med. Head games. 
I can do a 5K. I can leg press 200 pounds. I can demolish a pantry cabinet and set up a new one. I can spend all day on my feet in the kitchen baking bread, cookies and cooking dinner.
                   Yup Yup

When I have a bad day I can barely walk to the bus stop without having to sit down after and recuperate. Just carrying the laundry basket up one flight of stairs makes me so winded that I feel like my chest might cave in on itself. I stand looking at the dishes not having the energy to actually do them. 

 I feel weak like a person of less value. Why? I am not insecure. I am not less than. I know none of that is true. But I have always felt my strength helps define me. I have always done the handy work and yard work, painting the house, and hanging with the guys. I have built things, used the table saw, lifted weights and just generally felt very independent.  Part of me feels special that way, and that I should hold myself to a higher standard. That's not true . We are all human and we cannot be perfect. Thats why they say "we are our own worst enemy". No one is harder on us than we are on ourselves and we need to just stop!! 
But I think secretly we all want to be perfect, and just can't admit it. So way down, where we never look, there's a place that still gets devastated when we have reality remind we are NOT.
When we have a bad day and cannot do what we want or once could, its like being punched in the gut with  a Mjolnir.
We miss out on events and feel like an unavailable spouse or parent. There's guilt and shame. Disappointment and anger.
When you have a bad day there's a lot more to it than just staying bed, and it all can make you feel worse. So I still, after 10 years, take all my own advice I give to others and try to accept more often than not, that some of this out out of my control. It cannot ALL be controlled with diet and exercise, sleep and meds. 
Breath, rest, save your emotional and mental energy. Think positive and plan for a better day.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rhode Island ComicCon Controversy 2014

I am NOT going into the various things that happened at Rhode Island ComicCon on Saturday (11/1/2014)
There are endless posts and tweets, blogs and journals who have write ups and you can find them anywhere.
#RICC #ricomiccon and the best one #ricomicconfail2014
 For us it was partly a disaster, but mostly a good experience. We got off lucky compared to the thousands that had MAJOR issues. We did wait in the cold and rain for about an hour. I did almost miss one photo op. The kids did get frustrated being herded like cattle through the exhibition hall. The crowd was overwhelming and at times seemed unsafe, suffocating and things could easily be missed.  (over capacity). But there were Supernaturals I wanted to see and a Supernatural panel I wanted to attend so I sucked it up.

 the kids got to meet and get an autograph from Mick Foley.
 I got Jim Beaver
 And Mark Sheppard

I did NOT know J. August Richards was going to be there. I was pleasantly surprised. He was So nice I almost got giddy.

OMG how cute?!?!

So here is the most interesting part of the entire experience. On the way out of the parking garage I saw a Groot costume in the trunk of a car and I screamed "Groot,..Groot". My husband stopped the car and I said "Oh my Gawd that's so good it's ridiculous!! A woman walked over and said it was hers. She said she was a makeup artist and they were supposed to be in the costume contest at the ComicCon and then couldn't get in. (Again, more issues I won't get into here) Turns out her name was Hillary and she had all the Guardian costumes!!
 I was heartbroken for them and couldn't stop thinking about them all night into the next morning. I decided to vent my frustration on twitter along with the rest of the disgruntled con goers. She is grateful for bringing attention to it, and I am a little excited that my pictures got posted in some articles on the con!
My original Groot picture
My original Rocket picture

Bleeding Cool article
From We The Nerdy
So needless to say being part of such a big event both good and bad was a little exciting for a couple days.

Groot was Wronged! Robbed. Shut out and displaced! 

Yet Hillary stayed composed, after 600 hours of work and additional prep, she thanked everyone, never said a bad word about the RI ComiCon and she's just a nice person. Oh and awesome at her job to boot!  Need a make up and fx person get in touch with her and her team
I mean look at these!!! WHAAAAT!! 


Best article yet on The Gahlik!! 
Anime Herald
Providence Journal 
Convention Center says refunds??...hhhmmm..we'll see

On the fibro side of the event, it was total torture. Standing for hours, inching along up against strangers, the noise and smells were just too much most of the time. My head was pounding, that made my neck hurt, and I had to pretend it wasn't that bad so my kids and hubby had a good time without listening to me complain. At one point I almost fell over from back pain and really wished I had crutches or a wheel chair. I wanted to cry. (I was on the inside ) I had to wiggle stretch and fidget, take aleve and hope it would be over soon. Ha, that turned out to be wishful thinking. I dont think Ill do that again unless its somewhat small. Its just too much.