I felt the first twinge of arthritis pain last winter. I could not believe that one knuckle on one finger of my left hand (I’m left-handed) could cause so much pain. Last winter, though, it was just an occasional twinge. This winter however, I had to find a new way to hold my coffee cup, and use two hands to manage the hens’ water pails.
On an exceptionally hard labor day, it would ache at the end of the day – this constant discomfort that felt like the knuckle needed cracked badly. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to crack that knuckle these past few months. It just won’t crack.
When the pain comes on, I picture my mother’s and my aunt’s hands – both women struck with arthritis in their hands. I admit, until I actually felt arthritis pain, I could not fathom the pain those aged hands have experienced.
Not looking forward to a lifetime of pain, nor liking the idea of taking traditional pain medications the rest of my life, I started researching.
What are the natural options I have to manage this new ailment I have?
Acupressure: The GB 20 point is an overall pain-relieving point and is one of the 12 anti-inflammatory points. Use your thumb to press both GB 20 points, which are below the base of the3 skull, two inches out from the middle of your neck. Press for one minute, three times a day, daily.
Aromatherapy: Rosemary and chamomile are the scents to pair for arthritis relief. For the best relief, ad six drops each rosemary and chamomile essential oils to four ounces sesame oil. Massage into sore joints until fully absorbed.
For extra relief, add ten drops each of rosemary and chamomile to a warm bath and soak for ten minutes.
Diet/Nutrition: Ayurvedic doctors recommend adding spicy foods to the diet, like cayenne, cinnamon or dried ginger. Some studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is beneficial in helping lessen – or even eliminate – arthritis pain. When animal food sources were removed from the diet, many cases of arthritis have gone into complete remission.
Juicers recommend 2 glasses of blackberry juice a day, and note that pineapple juice is the only known source of the enzyme bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Foods to avoid include citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
Vitamin C promotes healing, Calcium builds stronger joints, and B Vitamins can help reduce pain. Find and eat foods that provide more of these in your diet. You may want to consider taking Vitamin C supplements, because for arthritis, practitioners recommend 5,000 milligrams a day.
Massage: Gentle massage can help ease arthritis pain if you work around the affected joint, not directly on it. Make small gentle circles around the join for three to five minutes every day.
Hydrotherapy: Moist warm treatments are very helpful managing arthritis pain. Applying a warm compress for 10-20 minutes every four hours to relieve stiffness and dull, penetrating pain. Swimming or soaking in water heated to 85 degrees can also be effective.
For sharp, intense pain, a cold wet compress or an ice pack wrapped in a towel no more than 20 minutes at a time, every four hours. If the sharp pain dissipates to a duller pain after a day or two, switch to the warm compress.
Relaxation: Some alternative practitioners believe arthritis is an indirect result of hidden, unexpressed anger. Twenty minutes of stretching or meditation twice a day can help manage the pain of arthritis. For other ways to treat or manage anger, see this post.
NOTE: Gout is also a form of arthritis. For gout flare ups, stick with cool temperature treatments (especially ice packs), and pair rosemary oil with juniper oil instead of chamomile. For gout, juicers recommend juicing cherries and strawberries together.
For three years in a row, the blue birds have attempted to raise a family at the top of one of our porch fence posts. I say attempted, because the sparrows will not allow it.
The blue birds get to the point where they have the nest built, eggs laid, or even young born — and the sparrows attack. One year, I attempted to help guard the nest, but I could not be as diligent as the sparrows. Another year, I collected the young tossed ruthlessly out of the nest, and hung them in a basket nearby. The sparrow threw them out of the basket as well.
It’s traumatic. There’s a lot of chirping and squawking and commotion. Violence is violence – even if only the size of a sparrow. It’s a sad and terrible experience I share with them every year. It upsets me.
The blue birds try raise a family on our porch every year and every year, lose the battle.
Well, not this year.
This year I remembered ahead of time, and bought a “sparrow-proof blue bird house.”
I’m going to fill the space where the blue birds usually build their nest at the top of the post, and I’m going to mount the bird house right next to that spot. Hopefully, the blue birds will take to it, and hopefully the sparrow-proofing works.
I’ll keep you updated as spring progresses.
About two years ago, a gardening mentor handed me something I had never seen before. A small round loofa – grown in her yard. How quaint, I thought, and brought it home and put it up to save for seed – somewhere.
I have not been able to find it since.
So this year, while perusing ebay one evening, I came across a listing for loofa plant seeds. Since this year’s garden plans include expanding the herb and flower garden for use in some bath products, little loofas seem to fit the theme. So, I bought some seed.
A vining plant, I’m hoping to plant the seed along the fence after the early peas have been harvested. If successful with them, I can use them to decorate the bath sachets I hope to make next winter. The seed I got off of ebay didn’t come with instructions, so I found several web sites that were helpful:
http://www.luffaseeds.com was very helpful, and inspired me to get them planted in trays right away.
http://www.seedman.com/loofah.htm surprised me, because I didn’t know there was more than one kind, and also had no idea which kind I had ordered.
This is one of the “new” plants I am trying this year, just for the fun of it. I’ll keep you posted as the season progresses.
Grief is the most draining of emotions, depleting both energy and brain power. Most people know that there are several stages of grief, including: shock, denial, protest and depression (though not in any particular order). Every person experiences and deals with grief differently, and some may have trouble working through the depression phase. However, there are natural remedies that can help everyone through the process.
The scent of marjoram is a traditional remedy for grief. You can purchase the essential oil and apply a drop or two to a tissue or handkerchief, or grow and dry marjoram and make it into a sachet. Both would make nice gifts to ease the pain of a grieving friend or loved one.
Ginseng helps the body deal with all kinds of stresses, including grief and loss. Ginseng is available as tea or capsules, but also powdered and fresh. During times of grief, increase your intake of Ginseng. Ginseng tea or root would be a good gift to offer someone who is grieving, or find a recipe calling for fresh Ginseng root.
When grieving, it’s important to be aware of your intake of sugar, processed foods, caffeinated foods and alcohol. Each of these can worsen depression.
An herbal supplement of Saint Johns’ Wort, taken three times a day, can help lift your outlook. Or, make tea from the dried herb, allow to steep for 10 minutes, strain, then cool. Drink twice daily. The down side? It takes up to four weeks to see results however, and the fair skinned should avoid the sun when taking Saint Johns’ Wort.
SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID
One of the biggest regrets to accompany grief relates to “things left unsaid.” Some psychiatrists recommend picturing the lost one near the end of their life, then speak out loud of anything you wish you said before the person died. Express your sorrow, confusion, anger – whatever feelings you have relating to that person. Other psychiatrists suggest writing a letter to the deceased saying what needs to be said, then burning or shredding the letter as you wish them a final farewell.
Grieving people are more susceptible to illness and disease. It is important to take steps to boost the immune system during a grieving period. Daily doses of Vitamin C and D can help.
Progressive relaxation has shown to increase immune cell activity, if regularly practiced three times a day. The progressive relaxation process includes tensing and relaxing muscles to increase blood flow to the different parts of the body.
Anything that increases circulation will strengthen the immune system, relax tense muscles, and lift the spirits. Specifically, for grief, the American Yoga Association recommends the standing sun, knee squeeze and seated sun poses. However, since grieving people tend to become more sedentary, anyv exercise, even a slow, 15-minute walk will make a difference.
WARM YOUR HANDS
Under stress, the body restricts the flow of blood to the extremities, so they are colder than the rest of the body. If you warm your hands, blood flow increases again, lowering the level of stress and improving circulation for a healthy immune system.
Well, the time off from the garden has ended. We finished last year’s in early November, and with the arrival of the seed packets recently, the game is again afoot. The seed trays and potting soil have been sterilized and set out for this year’s garden.
It is early in the season yet, being winter and all. However with row covers, it won’t be long at all before we can sow lettuces, peas and more outside. Meantime, the “spare bedroom” has become the seed nursery again.
In a review of the seed collection we have, it seems that this year will be a year for cabbage. Our stock seed was getting a little too old (germination rate drops the older it gets), so it’s time to plant the old and place the new into stock.
Today we planted four trays of cabbage; two green species and a red.
I”ve mentioned my intention to re-invent the herb garden, and that process begins with two trays of chive seeds and half a tray of dill seed.
Soon I’ll plant parsley, yarrow and stevia outside in the new perennial garden location.
But not yet. Not quite yet.
Once the ground temperature reaches 40 degrees though, the rules of the game change. I can harvest the winter carrots, the horseradish, the winter garlic. I can start dividing and transplanting the herbs that need moved – Lemon balm, thyme, oregano, lavender.
But for now, we have to keep our planting reined in – don’t want to get too far ahead. Cabbage, chives and dill…
That’s a good start.