Monday, May 19, 2008

Migraine Relief at Last!!

I am one of the many people who suffer migraine headaches. Mine are quite severe when they attack, once a month like clockwork, the dreaded menstrual migraine. Generally, the intense pain, nausea, weakness, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and distorted vision will last for four or five days if I don't start swallowing aspirin by the fistful at the first indication of the onset of these hellish attacks. Even when I medicate in anticipation of the horrible event, aspirin and other pain medications merely take enough of the edge off of the headache to allow some semblance of normal daily function, but do little to alleviate the accompanying symptoms. Prescription medications are not an option I pursue, as the side effects of most I have investigated are many, and the effectiveness of them is quite questionable.

Thanks to an informative book given to us by a man we met here in the desert, DB Smith, titled Medicinal Herbs & Wild Foods Of The Desert Southwest, I have found a natural remedy that has provided me complete relief from migraine symptoms three months in a row. While the book does not specify migraine as one of the conditions for which Ocotillo is useful, some of the ailments listed as ones treatable with the plant, such as edema and inflammation, are among the symptoms that plague migraine sufferers during an attack. So, I gave it a shot, and the results amazed me. With a simple tea made with Ocotillo branches, a common plant on our desert property, I have managed to avoid my usual migraine hell week, with most symptoms disappearing after the first cup of tea, and the rest gone after the second dose taken a few hours later. Then, I take a cup before my morning coffee the following day or two to ensure a symptom free day.

Of course, as migraine sufferers know, nothing works for everyone, but this has been the ONLY remedy that has been able to eradicate all of my migraine symptoms, leaving me feeling completely back to normal. What a blessing, as I typically lose nearly a week of every month to these incapacitating attacks. Personally, I have suffered no side effects from my Ocotillo brew, but among the warnings in the book is one against using Ocotillo if you are pregnant or nursing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ugly News From Canada... And, If The Law Passes, It Can Be Expected To Eventually Creep Our Way

Big Pharm would like to rule the world, it seems. Pharmaceutical monopoly just isn't enough. No, they'd like to be able to control access (read profit from) every aspect of healing, including the healing potentials of your kitchen herbs. Check out this story to see what they're up to now... trying to pass a law that uses a devious blend of criminalizing supplements and herbal remedies as they redefine the term sales and the application of forfeiture laws to wrest still more control of health and healing from the people to place in the hands of those hungry for still more profit.

Disgusting! Better buy seeds for secret gardens now... while you still can. Heritage seeds, those not contaminated by genetic alteration or neutered by those who prefer seeds to be bought every season, rather than saved from a portion of what was grown.

We Took It To Heart...

Relaxing in the sunshine... it sounded so good to us after shivering in NY for so long that we loaded up the crew -- children, dogs, cats, birds, and a turtle -- and headed for the sun. We've left chilly NY behind forever and have set up in the high desert plateaus along the frontera. And, here in this lovely rural spot (you can click the picture taken by my brother for a larger view of our gorgeous sunset), we've been investigating the local flora and fauna and have a wealth of information to share about natural remedies. Now that we've -- finally -- gotten home Internet again, we can return to blogging. Ah, what a joy!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Relaxing In the Sun: Good Preventative Medicine

Vitamin D has been in the news quite a bit lately, with a variety of studies publicized that link a number of serious health issues to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D has been long established as a critical factor in bone strength and calcium absorption, its benefit proven years ago when it's deficiency was definitively linked to the childhood disease rickets.

However, further studies have indicated that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to a long list of other ailments, many more than previously thought. Evidence has emerged that suggests links between insufficient levels of vitamin D and autoimmune illnesses, chronic pain, cancer, depression, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders, autism, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and many others. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to severely weaken the immune system, factoring in the spread of viral illnesses like influenza and the common cold.

Most vitamin D in the body is produced by exposure to sunlight. Many people, heeding warnings by health care professionals about skin cancer prevention, are restricting their exposure to the sun with the use of sunscreen or by remaining indoors. This trend has made maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D in the system difficult, resulting in deficient levels in approximately 40% of adults. Deficiency rates are highest among people of color, as skin pigmentation blocks a portion of the ultraviolet light to which it is exposed, but is a prevalent problem in all segments of the population.

While preventing skin cancer is certainly important, evidence is mounting that a moderate amount of sun exposure is critical to good health, and supplements may be wise in the winter months when sunlight is weakest. Some experts suggest that just an hour of sunshine a day can be enough to prevent deficiency in the summer months.

There is a lot more information on the subject available, with some of the articles and studies I found most interesting and informative linked in the text....but be sure to step away from the screen for a few minutes to enjoy a bit of sunshine, guilt free...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Natural" Colic Remedy Recall Due To Potential Parasite Contamination

From an Associated Press report published in the Mercury News:

"California health officials on Wednesday warned parents not to give their children a liquid herbal supplement that is marketed as a remedy for colic and teething pain because several bottles tested positive for a parasite that may have a sickened a 6-week-old infant in Minnesota.

Lab tests conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed the presence of Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause diarrhea and intestinal infections, in unopened bottles of apple-flavored Baby's Bliss Gripe Water, according to the state health department. The supplement's s distributor, MOM Enterprises of San Rafael, has recalled about 17,600 bottles of the product that were being sold through the Internet and at retail stores nationwide, the health department said."

I'm not a big fan of herbal supplements for babies, especially when they are just 6 weeks old. They're too little and they're too new. Herbs are plants, and their medicinal content can vary according to soil conditions, growing area, etc. Babies are just so tiny that a little too much of something can have a real effect. So, natural or not, I lean towards being very cautious about what I give an infant.

For colic, there is a much more natural solution -- breastfeeding. That is the best thing you can do to prevent colic and you certainly don't have to worry about any recall related issues... unless you've got chemical filled implants.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beyond Drugs: Pain Management Strategies

Chronic pain can suck the joy right out of life, leaving the sufferer physically miserable, as well as mentally exhausted and even depressed. For many, drugs just are not the answer, offering only partial relief or relief that fades all too fast, as the body becomes tolerant of the medication, demanding more and more, until finally the pain relieving medication no longer is effective.

Yet another set of recent clinical studies have demonstrated the value of a more integrated approach to pain management. As has been shown with back pain, for those suffering from some types arthritis, there is some indication that therapies that seek to increase and improve movement can be helpful not only for managing pain, but also for helping to prevent further injury.

Meditation has also shown promise to aid in the management of chronic pain, as well as its associated stress, anxiety and depression. While meditation is much more common in the Eastern part of the world, it is starting to become a much more mainstream concept here in the West.

Chronic pain is tough to live with, and all too frequently cannot be controlled by drugs alone. Exploring the possibilities of a more integrated and holistic approach can make a real difference in overall quality of life.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Welcome To Natural Health and Alternative Medicine Information

My name is Sharon Secor and I am a freelance writer and single parent, which means I definitely understand the effects of the high cost of health care today. It was the high cost of care and being poor that pushed me into the study of natural health and alternative medicine many years ago, long before I became a single parent.

From there, I began to learn about the history of Western medicine, the dangers associated with many of the treatment and pharmeceutical fads Western medicine went through and is still experiencing, and the value – not only to the pocket – of learning about how to use herbs and other natural remedies. I also began to study nutrition as a means of achieving and maintaining health, as well as its role in fighting and healing disease.

However, I do not discount the value of Western-style modern medicine. I have three children that were born prematurely, two of which would not be here without the seemingly miraculous feats accomplished by modern Western medicine.

With this blog, my sister, Melinda Secor – who spent more than 15 years working in health care before she made the shift into freelance writing – and I plan to offer practical, useful information as we explore the issues and subjects associated with natural health and alternative medicine.