Sunday, December 3, 2017

Acetaminophen: Killing More Than Pain

When was the last time a doctor recommended you take acetaminophen, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or one of the common NSAIDs for pain and inflammation? This week? 

Me too.

Did your doctor mention the common side effects? Mine didn't.

Consumer Reports wrote about a recent study in Scotland where researchers found that, while we all know that overdosing on acetaminophen can be fatal, a toxic overdose can also be caused over time when people consistently take a little more than the daily maximum. 

This isn't just a problem for people who knowingly overdose or abuse drugs. Just as many people are seen in the ER due to accidental overdose. Why?

Two main reasons:

1. The FDA and the pharmaceuticals manufacturing OTC drugs don't have the same definition for a "Daily Maximum". Is it 1,000 mg, or is it 4,000 mg? Nobody seems to know.

2. Acetaminophen is used in over 600 other OTC medicines, from allergy and cold meds to sleep aids and fever reducers. It's really easy to take more than you intend to.

What are some of the most common problems acetaminophen can cause?

This particular drug is so popular because it doesn't present the same stomach damage potential that drugs like Ibuprofen do. However, Tylenol (acetaminophen) does not decrease inflammation, can be toxic even slightly over the daily max dose, and, combined with alcohol, can cause liver failure. 

Learn more about the pros and cons of 4 of the most common pain killers.

What does this have to do with herbal remedies and pain salves? 

Herbs like turmeric, cayenne pepper, arnica, frankincense, and Devil's Claw are all effective in decreasing inflammation. A knowledgeable herbalist will also tell you that you can't take frankincense internally, but it is very effective in a topical application. The others are safe and effective both internally and externally. Overdosing on herbs is nearly unheard of, both because of common sense and practicality. 

Comfrey is one of the only herbs that includes some warnings and probably shouldn't be taken internally (though not everyone agrees on this). The point is that nature's provisions are just as powerful and plentiful as those created in a lab, and oftentimes more so. 

We all have options when it comes to our health, and it's not a pills-or-pain world. You can advocate for yourself by educating yourself, not just on alternatives to western medicine but also how certain drugs will affect your body. Doctors know a lot, but they don't always know what's best for us.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanks Giving

My Gratitude List

  • Family & Friends & Fur Babies
  • Love
  • Healing
  • Creativity
  • Our Home
  • Hope
  • The Balm Lady's Customers 😍
  • Megan's Business Success
  • Change 
  • Beauty
  • Music
  • New Experiences
  • Silence
  • Coffee 💟
  • Sunshine
  • Laughter
  • Good Memories
  • Good books
  • Good food
This list is not complete....

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

An Introduction to Rolfing

What to Expect in a Session

Rolfing is a deep-tissue manipulation of the fasciae, holding muscles and bones together, a practice developed by Ida P. Rolf in the 1950s. Rolf, along with contemporaries in similar fields such as Alexander Lowen and Wilhelm Reich, was very interested in the human body's interdependent relationship with our environment, gravity, and our emotions.

Rolf's main goal in this deep tissue work was to reestablish "the natural alignment and structural integration of the human body for vitality and well-being," as stated in her book, Rolfing. One focus of this realignment is on maneuvering the body's tissue, which affects bones, muscles, balance, and posture, in order to reestablish a healthy relationship with gravity. 

Gravity is the main force always acting on our bodies and it takes its toll, accentuating the imbalances imposed by injury or internalized emotions, and Ida Rolf's techniques are still used as a paradigm shift for a patient's physicality.

What does all this look like? I went to observe my partner's Rolfing session, and on entering the room the setup reminded me of a massage clinic. The office lighting was low and the atmosphere was calm. Female and male clients remove everything but their underwear and lie under a blanket on the table with their face toward the ceiling. A Rolfing session lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and within that time a client will lie on his or her back, stomach, and either side in varying postings.

There is a high level of cohesion between Rolfing clinicians because they all go through the same training and certification process. Most offer a 10-session series that progressively works with different parts of a client's body week by week, but clinicians do not recommend ever repeating the series, though some people come back for occasional "tune-ups". 

Rolfing can be a painful experience, as most will attest, because of the nature of the body manipulation. This is different than a typical massage because massages tend to deal with the points of pain or tight muscles, while Rolfers trace pain or physical problems to their origins, which are often in very unexpected areas of the body (i.e. neck pain being caused by an imbalance in one's feet). They use their fists, elbows, and knuckles rather than thumbs, and though the process is painful, clients report that it is a "good", cleansing type of pain. 

Since every body is different and since we all go through different experiences, some people have more problems with some parts of their bodies than others. Rolfers often see the manifestation of "body memories", which means that when they work on a certain muscle or body structure, an emotional memory might surface for the client, taking him or her back to a moment of injury, pain, or abuse in his or her past. Many clients say that this is an emotive process, and Rolfers correlate certain sessions in their series with the release of different emotions.

Overall, Rolfing is a good way to recalibrate one's body, release pent-up emotions, and work on chronic pain, with results that last longer than any other discipline in the bodywork field.

Giving Thanks for Valerian: Therapeutic Uses and Brain Basics (part 1)

Most nights, if I want to get some solid sleep, both the dogs and I take a Valerian tablet or two. Insomnia lite and general sleep disruption have followed me since I was a kid. Doctors are fond of prescribing heavy drugs for this (half a tablet of Seroquel once left me nearly comatose for a day and a half), but eventually I decided that Klonopin and all the rest could shove it. I was still tired, done with feeling like a zombie.

Then I found valerian. Valerian is a plant that is native to Europe, China, and the Americas. People have been using it for thousands of years as a natural remedy, and it still has a few tricks up its leaves.

Benefits and uses of Valerian include improvements in:
  • Sleep
  • Muscle pain and spasms
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Focus problems

Forms of usage:

  • Diluted essential oil for aromatherapy benefits
  • Herbal tea
  • Herbal extract
  • Tincture

The Nerdy Science Behind the Benefits
The brain’s network of neurons is responsible for processing incoming stimuli and sending out responses. When your hand feels a burning sensation as you accidentally touch a hot Thanksgiving plateful of turkey, that signal travels to the spinal cord and up to your brain in no time, and the responsive jerk of the hand and a choice swear word are the neuronal response that your brain sends back almost instantly.

Those signals are all conducted via neurotransmitters, chemicals traveling along those billions of pathways like a colossal baton race.
Neurotransmitters fall into two categories: excitatory and inhibitory. That’s it. Billions of connections, trillions of cells, unlimited functions, all down to two types of neurotransmitters.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, while GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is the main inhibitor. These two usually balance each other out, but when they don’t, you can experience some severe problems.

With an excess of unrestrained glutamate, your brain cells can experience excitotoxity, or cell suicide. Therefore, researchers believe that this may be related to some degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Other possible indications are ADHD, Autism, restlessness, addiction, and anxiety.

An excess of GABA, on the other hand, can impair memory, lower libido, and decrease motivation.
Valerian and GABA are pals. They work well together. This is thought to be the reason that valerian helps with insomnia, anxiety, and pain. The benzodiazepine Valium is even better friends with GABA, and its powerful effects often lead to physical dependence and addiction when a person needs to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same results*.

Valerian root and essential oils do not present this danger, however. Valium is articifically produced in a lab, and valerian is a plant.

* As a side note, chemical dependence and tolerance of a substance is often related to an over-stimulation of brain chemicals, which eventually impairs the brain and body’s ability to self-regulate.