Tag Archives: anti-inflammatory

Some ideas to help deal with Adrenal Fatigue, naturally

Adrenal what?

Yeah, I know, you may not have heard about it before, and if you haven’t well, lucky you.  I have noticed a distinct upswing in the number of people I know who are dealing with it recently.  That could be the people I am hanging out with (a lot of us have fertility issues and adrenal fatigue can be a contributing factor),  but after doing some research about it, I think adrenal fatigue is being caused by our modern lifestyles as well.

adrenal fatigue

What is it?  Effectively, it is the body burning out.  Adrenal fatigue is characterised by a disruption of your adrenal glands ability to make cortisol in the right amounts at the right time in response to stress.  Basically, it is your flight or fight response, and because it has been used soooo much, your body just can’t deal with it all any more.  Your adrenal glands (on top of your kidneys) are kicking out cortisol all the time, and it becomes background music in your chemical composition.  Your body can’t tell if it a sabre toothed tiger or that mountain of paperwork you need to run away from.  The adrenals keep pumping out the cortisol but the rest of the body pays it no attention.   So, why is it a problem?  Well, the adrenal glands are the bodies hormonal powerhouse.  They form the nexus of the feedback loops in the body co-ordinating the production of nearly every hormone in the body.  If they are overworked, then the hormonal balance in the body is going to be out of whack, pure and simple.

exhaustion

According to my research, there are three levels of adrenal fatigue.  The first level is the wired and tired stage.  It is characterised by high cortisol levels especially at night, leading to insomnia, insulin resistance and abdominal weight gain.  Often sufferers feel energised but in an edgy and wired sort of way.  The second level is the stressed and tired stage.  The sufferer will wake up early, like 3 am early, and then no be able to fall back to sleep.  Later in the day stressors kick in and they feel more awake.  According to the medics, in this stage, the cortisol level peaks early, then flattens out but there is generally a rise midday or in the early evening.  The third, and most serious, stage is burnout.  This is characterised by exhaustion, regardless of hours slept, a completely flat cortisol curve and in some cases low DHEA (a hormone which acts as a neurosteriod, among many other things) and thyroid hormone levels.  It is a dangerous place to be, not just because you feel mentally woolly and unable to think straight, but it is also associated with a higher risk of autoimmune disease.

lightbulb

Personally, I think I have been in each of these three stages at least once in my life, and quite possible more than that.  The disruptive sleep patterns and hormonal imbalances ring very, very true for me, not to mention the insulin resistance and the abdominal weight gain.   Every time I go to the doctor and they take their barrage of blood tests, they always come back telling me that everything is in balance… but I have been diagnosed with asymptomatic Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome – which is also characterised by insulin resistance and a real difficulty in losing weight.  Hmmm.  I know self diagnosis is risky, but this is ticking some serious boxes for me.

vegetables

What can I do to turn this adrenal fatigue around?  Well, a change of diet is essential.  My research reveals that eating a diet high in brightly coloured vegetables, lean and clean protein and whole grain carbs will really, really help the levels of inflammation in the body.  If there are food you know you are sensitive to, but are still eating, then get them out of the diet as well.  One item it was interesting to find was that if you cut carbs entirely, then it will actually exacerbate adrenal fatigue, and not fix it.  Well… that explains my reaction to the Atkins diet and its variants that I have been on over the years!

You should also go to bed early… and by early I mean before 11pm.  Ideally before 10pm if you can manage it.  I have been trying to manage it since I began living on my own nearly 20 years ago… and so far I have not managed it.  You need to have lots of B vitamins in your diet.  If you are not getting it from your diet (green leafies and lean proteins), then by all means take a supplement.  B vitamins are food for the adrenals.  You need to cool inflammation in the body – you can do that by making sure that you get Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet along with lots of vitamin C and curcumin as well.  All these are known to lower systemic inflammation.  You need to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs.  Vitamin D, Selenium, magnesium, zinc are all incredibly important for thyroid and adrenal function.

water drop

Everyone knows you need to stay hydrated.  This is even more important in adrenal fatigue.  Adding some lemon juice to your glasses of water might help matters as well.  Plus it makes it taste a bit more interesting into the bargain.  You might want to consider using Adaptogenic herbs.  Herbs like ginseng, liquorice root and Astralgus are really good at counteracting the effects of excessive cortisol.  My research also suggests that you need to build rests into your day.  I am really bad at this.  I keep going until either I am at the end of my to do list, or I am nearly dead… whichever happens first.  One thing you should steer clear of though, is a lot of high impact and high energy exercise.  It is not going to help.  Exercise needs to be stretching and calming.  Restful.  A nice stroll in the spring sunshine, yoga, or tai chi sounds just the ticket.

change your perspective

And finally?  The best way to start treating your adrenal fatigue is to change your perspective.  It is actually possible that your definition of success might be killing you.  In modern times it is easy to compare your own life to the edited highlights of every one elses life, and you can sometimes feel that it is so important for you to do things better, harder, faster than everyone else.  Hello cortisol overload.  Changing how you define success might be the quickest and easiest way to start to revolutionise your life.

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Ears can be very ouchy things…

I have a friend at Church who has been proclaiming for some time that he has “a manky ear”.  Although I am not over clear on what “manky” describes, I have been motivated to try and find some sensible things for my friend to try.  I know he has already gone to his doctor, and he has had his ear syringed, but it is still bothering him.  I wondered if a Country Doctor might be able to help.

ears

It really comes down to whether “manky” = earwax or pain.  I am not sure that my friend is in that much pain, and I know he has had his ear treated with warm olive oil as well as having it syringed, to no avail.  I also know that there are few things more miserable than painful ears, so I wanted to check out what to do to help people.  Lets deal with pain first.

According to my book, earache tends to stem from infections of the middle ear, or outer ear canal.  When the sufferer is a little person, it often goes with a stinking cold and lots of congestion.  Apparently, there are only two parts of the baby that are fully grown at birth – eyes and the ear canal. Everything else is up for growing and changing as time goes on  Of course, as the rest of the ear is still babysized, it causes all kinds of bottle necks with in the ear for, let us call it technically, gunk to amass and cause problems.  Sometimes it can be caused by a virus causing swelling and mucus to fill up your eustachian tubes – which are the tiny channels which equalise pressure in your nasal passages and inner ears.  And we can also have all sorts of thing in the ear as well.  Bugs.  Pieces of Lego.  Tiny cutlasses from small plastic toys.  All kinds of stuff.   You can also get an inflamed outer ear canal.  You can tell if it is that, because if you pull on your ear lobe, it makes the pain worse.  Seriously, what a useful diagnostic tool that is!!  I might just have to text my friend and ask him if that works!

ear ache

If your ear is inflamed, then I am going to suggest anti-inflammatories to help with the soreness.  It will not deal with the reason for the pain in the first place, but it will bring down the swelling, and that can only be a good thing.  One of the best home remedies for an earache is warming up olive oil or mineral oil and using just a few drops into the ear.  It is best to do this while lying down and with the affected ear facing up.  Once the oil is administered, putting a warm compress against the ear can also help.

Another thing that can nix the ache is taking a decongestant.  You need to make sure it is a decongestant without an antihistamine, as the antihistamine could thicken up the mucus and make the problem worse rather than better.

ear cleaning

And now we come onto the other side of potentially manky ear; the earwax.  Although it is a perfectly natural human body byproduct, it is not a pleasant think to contemplate.  It is in fact a natural protection secreted by a special gland in the ear and the idea of it is to trap germs and dirt.  The skin in your ears starts to grow just outside the eardrum apparently and migrates forward, taking the wax with it.  It is, in some ways, Nature’s form of cleaning house.  Often this cleaning system goes a little awry though.  It could be from a cotton bud pushing the wax back into place, or it could be overly productive was making glands.  The good news is that wax build up is curable.

ear bubbles

One of the best things to use is hydrogen peroxide from your pharmacist.  A few drops in the ear two times a day for several days should clear up any build up problems.  It is certainly better than historical solutions of ox gall, child’s urine or she goat urine.  If those are my options, I think I will stick to the ear wax build up.  When you put the peroxide into your ear it will bubble.  Wait until the bubbling stops and the drain the liquid away.  Wax should come to.  If the wax is hard, then mixing glycerin with the hydrogen peroxide (half and half) will helps to soften the wax for removal.

However, the best bit of advice?  Do not stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.  Now that seems to be eminently sensible advice.

Some things to help with inflammation…

Well, the weekend didn’t kill me, but it did rather feel a close run thing on a couple of occasions.  Unfortunately, after 4 months of pretty much constant work, my back did decide to do more than niggle at me.  After judicious use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs (I might be a herbalist in training, but I am not insane… if you need it… USE them!!) and slathering my back in glucosamine gel regularly… I am pleased to report that the back is no longer niggling.  Thank goodness.

 

Pain and inflammation would make the cheeriest soul a total grump.  And I am not the cheeriest soul.  (My poor husband!).  After doing some research for a friend, I have found out quite a lot about the sorts of herbs and foods you should eat to avoid inflammation, so thought I would share them with you.

turmeric

One of the best herbs for preventing inflammation in the first place is turmeric.  There are loads of recipes online about making a milky drink with turmeric to have before you go to bed which apparently will help take your inflammation down.  I am not sure about that… but I am quite keen on the idea of using turmeric in food.  A little touch of it when boiling rice means you get the coolest yellow colour in it (got to be better than boring white or slightly less boring brown-ish!).  Mind you, I am a fan of curries… and when I make one, it usually has turmeric in it!

apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is another drink addition which is good for inflammation.  It is actually a wonder ingredient in and of itself, and does more than just attack inflammation (I did a blog about it a while back, but can’t find it just at the moment..!).  Drinking a pint of water with a table spoon of cider vinegar in it, three times a day (just before you eat) will really help apparently.  Hmmm…. Might try that actually.

cherries

Life may not be a bowl of cherries, but I am pretty sure happiness is!  I do love cherries… and luckily, my husband is not that keen, so they are mine, all mine!  They also have anti-inflammatory properties, something to do with their antioxidant properties.  Come to that, tomatoes are the same… though with tomatoes, it is Lycopene which is the star.  Anything with colour is great to have when you are fighting inflammation.  The more colour, the more antioxidants.  The more antioxidants, the more good is done.

salmon

And finally, something our Grandmothers all knew and we lost somewhere.  Omega 3’s are very, very important.  So, those fatty fishes are the ones we are after, particularly salmon.  Did your grandmother make you take cod liver oil from a spoon?  Yes?  Well, it was Omega 3’s she was shoving down your neck.  It worked too I bet… you ran off like a whippet from a trap after your dosage too… yes indeed, the magic of Omega 3’s.  I think I will continue to take mine in the form of Salmon!

 

Let’s get spicy!

It would appear that the Writer’s block is over.  Hoorah!  And very many thanks to my lovely husband who came up with the ideas for this week’s blog posts.  He is a star, he really is!

star

 

I have done a mini series on herbs, and I have touched on some spices, but I thought I would have a good look through the jars in the kitchen and see what other things we can use for medicine.  How good can some of these things be for us?

 

Today’s blog post is all about Nutmeg.  I am very partial to Nutmeg.  I love using it when I am cooking.  Lots on top of an oven baked rice pudding or grated over sautéed spinach.  Really tasty.  It is also essential for many spiced cookie recipes.  Mmmm.  Spiced cookies…

nutmeg and mace

Nutmeg comes from an evergreen tropical tree.  It is actually the seed of the tree and is two spices in one.  The nutmeg is the seed, but wrapped around the seed is a spice called Mace.  Nutmeg has quite a history attached to it, and at one time was one of the most expensive spices in the world and it was said that if you could lay your hands on 7 or 8 nutmegs, then your financial future was secure for the rest of your life!  Thankfully it is not as expensive these days.  It also lasts for ages!

 

Nutmeg has traditionally been used for nervous and digestive ailments.  The essential oil of nutmeg has been used in toothpaste and in some cough syrups as well.  Nutmeg is generally seen to be a sedative, a stimulant, a relaxant, anti-inflammatory, antispetic and a bactericide.

nutmeg ground

Nutmeg is also a potent brain booster.  It increases circulation thereby allowing you to concentrate better and for lnger.  It works by stimulating the brain and therefore removing mental exhaustion and stress.  It also stimulates the cardiovascular system so is a good tonic for the heart and there is good evidence for it being a liver and kidney detoxifier.

 

If you are looking for some kind of external application, then blending the essential oil with a carrier oil is the way to go.  It is very effective at relieving rheumatic pain, neuralgia and sciatica.  It has also been used for the relief of menstrual cramps and muscular and joint pain.  During my research, I have also found that using a massage of nutmeg oil 3 weeks before the delivery of a child can really help during the birth.  I am not so sure about this one… so I would use caution if you want to do this.

 

Hopefully this has taught you some stuff about nutmeg and using it.  I have a new found respect for it certainly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great starter plant for your herbal remedy garden…

I was thinking the other day about how to get any children who might come into my life and how to get them interested in the things that I am interested in.  I am not talking about lecturing them about the finer points of crochet, or demanding that they are kneeling next to me weeding the borders (though I can definitely see the benefits of the latter…!).  But what sorts of plants can they grow which will encourage them to come into the garden and see what herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers they can grow and use?

calendula

Lots of children start growing things with cress on a wet kitchen towel.  I guess that is a start.  Others try and grow tomatoes.  I think I might start with a pot marigold.  Not only is it lovely and brightly coloured, it flowers often, it is easy to grow and it is a fabulously useful plant to have about and the mainstay for an essential herbal first aid kit.  Originally the name Marigold, was Mary Gold, and it is also referred to as Sun Bride in some of the Herbals from the middle ages.

 

Calendula is particularly good treatment for cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites and minor wounds.  Calendula is anti-fungal so can help to cure thrush.  Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great face wash for dry, irritated skin and acne.  Fresh calendula petals can also be infused in boiling water and used to treat minor infections, conjunctivitis and mouth sores.  Calendula tinctures are also a concentrated and convenient way to treat sore or infected gums.

calendula oil

Calendula is most often applied to skin in the form of creams, lotions and oils.  You can take it as herbal tea, use it as a tincture, applied as a poultice.  You can make a simple homemade facial by boiling a handful of fresh petals in milk.  Use flower petals to add colour to soups and rice dishes, but only use the petals, not the stamens, stems or leaves.

calendula tea

If you have a sore throat you can make a calendula tea and gargle with it.  If you are suffering with indigestion, you can make the same tea and drink it.  If you have scrapes and bruises, then you can apply the tea directly to the skin.  If you happen to get nibbled by a naughty insect or get a rash from a nettle, then applying some freshly bruised flowers to the site of the rash might help.  A few drops of calendula tincture can also help to treat sore gums and mouth ulcers.  As no side effect have been noted to the use of Calendula, it would probably be safe enough to use for small children as well.

 

So, I shall hopefully be planting several pots of Mary Gold in my garden.  Perhaps this will be the gold at the end of my rainbow!

Our final herb in this series… the stately Rosemary

Happy First of March to you all!

 

And so, we come to the end of this series of blogs about common herbs and what they can do for you.

 

Rosemary is one of my garden necessities.  I love the smell, I love the structure and I love just brushing up against it when gardening and inhaling that heady scent.  Big scent usually means lots of goodness in it … and it certainly seems to be the case here.  All those volatile oils you see.  Good hint that one.  If it smells strongly, then it will probably be packed full of goodness.

rosemary bush

Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to Mediterranean.  The Latin name, Rosmarinus, means sea dew (Ros = dew; Marinus = Sea).  Traditionally it has been used to alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system and to promote hair growth.  It is also useful as a mood elevator, help with migraine pain (via inhalation), as a topical application for pain relief and as a liver detoxifier.  It is also very useful as a culinary herb. I best most people use Rosemary with Lamb.  But try it with pork as well.  Absolutely fantastic.

rosemary

Rosemary contains Carnosic acid which can help prevent neurological damage and what is sometimes termed as brain ageing.  Carnosic acid can also significantly promote eye health and provide protection against macular degeneration.  It is also a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants, which is why it helps to boost the immune and circulatory system.  Rosemary also helps to improve digestion.  Germany’s health authorities have accepted it’s use as a treatment for dyspepsia.  Some international research seems to think that a crude Ethanolic Rosemary extract (why don’t they just say Rosemary Tincture) can have differential anti-proliferative effects of human leukaemia and breast cancer cells.  I think in normal English this means it can stop cancer spreading.  Possibly.  Pretty cool though.

rosemary with flowers

Again, I am sorry, but there are health warnings here.  If you overdose on it, it can lead to vomiting, spasms, you might fall into a coma or you might get fluid in the lungs.  I think you might have to eat metric tonnes of it to overdose to this extent, but it is worth being safe.  Moderation and all that.  Large quantities of it can also cause miscarriage in pregnant women, and it can interact with some medications.  Warfarin, ACE inhbitors for high blood pressure, diruetics or lithium if you take that for depression are all contraindicated with Rosemary.  So best be careful if you are on any of those drugs.

 

It still smells fabulous, and adds a wonderful structure to the herb garden!  I think I will keep it, and keep using it in moderation. And when we get some decent barbecuing weather, I am going to incorporate some rosemary into the hamburger mix.  Apparently Rosemary can help to reduce the formation of carcinogens that can develop during cooking.  I am definitely up for trying that.

 

 

A change from green leafy herbs

So, we have done five green leafy herbs (I am including the Parsley post in that count) so now, I want to think about some other herbs which are a little different in habit, but still just as powerful.  You can still grow this on a windowsill, but perhaps in a separate pot from the rest of the herbs as it needs some different conditions to grow in.  Today the blog is about thyme.

thyme leaves

Thyme is a perennial shrub with a think woody base and square stems.  The leaves are tiny and richly fragrant, with lilac or white flowers that appear in summer.  Bees love them.  And the bees that love them produce some fabulous tasting honey!

 

My favourite way of having thyme is in a lemon and breadcrumb stuffing for roast chicken.  I am salivating just typing about that!!  But you can also use it in tea, soups and stews.  You can use the flowers, the leaves and the oil distilled from the leaves for the treatment of all kinds of ailments.  From my research it includes bedwetting, diarrhea, stomach ache, arthritis, sore throat, colic, coughs and bronchitis and flatulence.

 

It has been used for thousands of years.   Ancient Egyptians used it for embalming, Ancient Greeks used it as an incense in temples and was commonly added to bath water.  The Romans used it as a cheese and alcoholic beverage flavouring.  It is thought they are the ones who brought Thyme to a wider audience in Europe.

thyme oil

Scientists in Canada have found that Thymol, the main ingredient in the essential oil of Thyme is a powerful antimicrobial.  In their research, it was found to reduce the resistance of some bacteria who are currently resistant to drugs such as penicillin.

 

A research team at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK have tested the effects of Myrrh, Thyme and Marigold tinctures on acne.  Apparently the Thyme worked best.  It is even more effective than some of the prescription creams currently prescribed and it killed the bacterium responsible for acne within five minutes of exposure.

thyme flower

A further team of researchers in Belgrade, Serbia have reported that an aqueous extract of wild thyme had some success in reducing high blood pressure in rats.  There needs to be further research into it before we can definitely say that it works in humans as well, but there is a track record that blood pressure in rats is similar to that in humans, so there is definitely hope!

 

One of the other tips I picked up in my research is that you should add Thyme towards the end of the cooking period so as not to loose the flavour and denature the volatile oils.

 

What an astounding herb!  A natural wonder.  And tasty into the bargain!