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Shingles Adventure and OK Blog Readers: What Next? Plus Update on Radiation

No I am not abandoning Detox, gentle or otherwise…it seems I have material enough to beat this subject to death; therefore  I’ll continue to talk about detox a bit at a time. Since our bodies are constantly detoxifying (or trying to) every day, I’ll keep adding tidbits from my stacks of research as we wander into the future.

Shingles is not something I thought much about until I “got” them. Now I find that almost everyone I’ve spoken with in my age group (and older) knows a friend or relative who has had them, or has suffered themselves. Who knew!? And that many did not know what it was for several days (myself included). And anyone can get them (children, teenagers, young adults: no one who has had chicken pox is immune). So, if you have NOT had them, after reading this blog, please find a good website that shows you pictures so you can recognize the lesions (they looked like the systemic poison ivy I once had). They key info: the outbreak is preceded by a  burning feeling in the area, and pain along nerve endings, even before eruption. As the eruptions increase, so does the pain. Also: they do not necessarily occur in the most common places (around the middle or on one side of the trunk).

The allopathic response (and the one I had to take as I was away on vacation) is Acyclovir (or other heavy-duty anti-viral). It really does work to halt the progression, and start the lesions’ reduction in size.  The holistic response: double-blind placebo studies have shown that the immediate use of very strong proteolytic enzymes (Wobenzyme N has been used with success) can work as well as anti-viral drugs. Another possibility (especially if this is a recurrence) is large (approx. 5 grams each per day) doses of Vitamin D, Vitamin C and l-Lysine.

On the lesions themselves: clay with essential oils of tea tree or other anti-viral oils (see previous blog posting), powdered charcoal and cornstarch (equal parts) mixed into a paste and applied, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) oil or salve, hydrogen peroxide gel, and the following as herbal tea poultices: Lemon Balm, Baikal Skullcap, Mullein Flowers, St. Joan’s wort, and/or Turmeric (found a great Chinese recipe that called for Turmeric, honey and yogurt: kinda messy, but very cooling).  Aloe Vera Gel is nice and cooling as well.

Now for the pain…suffice it to say that I have the deepest sympathy for any and all who have suffered intense pain, having now made a very personal acquaintance with it for a month. I fully understand why folks get depressed, discouraged and hooked on pain meds. I am currently weaning myself off Gabapentin (and it doesn’t really work unless you’re damn near unconscious). The Western herbs I am taking now in rather large doses during the day: 2 parts St. John’s/Joan’s wort, 2 parts Skullcap (I’m doing 1 part regular and 1 part Baikal) 2 parts Oats, 2 parts Licorice, and 1 part Ginger. Kathy Keville’s original recipe called for an additional 1 part Vervain (which I’m getting and making into a tincture pronto). There are other excellent Chinese possibilities; however, they work best with an individual diagnosis. My friend (and fellow blogger) Lisa Goodstein is formulating one for me now that she’s seen me.  Acupuncture in general is very helpful with post-herpetic neuralgia (the official term for the pain that often INCREASES after the lesions are almost or fully resolved). However, one must see an acupucturist at least once a week for  4 to 6 weeks.

And here’s an interesting herbal and pharmaceutical combo: Capsaicin creme. Works for 80% of the folks who use it (myself included). The really effective stuff is prescription only (but not terribly expensive), and the studies are impressive. The usual dosage is 0.075% Capsaicin (an oleoresin derived from Cayenne peppers) added to a (wish it were organic) hypo-allergenic base. Any compounding pharmacy can make it. One applies it 3 times daily.

And here it comes: the detox part: 2 especially great liver detoxifiers: Milk Thistle Seed (as a tincture or standardized extract) and the supplement Calcium-d-Glucarate. This patented form of glucaric acid is supported with numerous studies and used in several cancer centers. It works by assisting the liver and healthy cells to eliminate wastes and foreign elements (and those pharmaceuticals and their metabolites I’m taking are definitely in that category). I won’t get all technical on you here, but it is a really cool (though expensive) supplement, especially for anyone that is concerned about breast cancer.

What Next, dear blog readers? Please let me know what you’d like to see me address. Either respond to this blog or email me:

Radiation from Japan update: check this out for an in-depth expose of the current situation…NOT for the faint of heart. And may we all continue to send prayers and energy to the people of Japan who must persevere through this enormity.

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Gentle Daily Detoxification

Guest blog post by Lisa Goodstein, DOM

Last week I wrote that Oriental Medicine does not recommend specific spring detoxification however; there are some gentle detoxification methods that can be easily incorporated into your daily life. One is drinking warm water with the juice from half an organic lemon squeezed into it first thing in the morning.  (Lemon is sour and supports your Liver).  If the lemon irritates your stomach, just drink the warm water without it. If you are constipated, or your stools are hard or your evacuation feels sluggish this will help, especially if you also have a glass of warm water before bed. Warm water does not mean room temperature. The water must be heated, not to a point of hot, but definitely warmed. Another method is dry skin brushing.

Dry brushing removes surface dead skin cells and stimulates the lymph system which removes a lot of our body’s waste.  Poor lymphatic drainage contributes to arthritis, cellulite and high blood pressure. This technique can be done year round.  If you are not currently doing it, this is a great time to start.

All you need is a bristle brush with a long detachable handle.  Most health food stores carry these brushes.  The brush must be used when it, and your skin is dry.  (It is advisable to wash the bristles in warm soapy water every 2 weeks).  Brush your body once daily prior to a shower or bath. The whole process only takes 5 minutes.  If you do this daily, it is also good to take a few days break every month so your body does not become lazy, similar to the pulsing method while taking supplements. The technique is rather simple: always brush toward your lymphatic glands.  There are several throughout our bodies but the two main areas are near the groin and underneath the clavicles.

Be gentle with your skin.  If you brush too strongly, you could scratch or irritate your skin and not engage your lymphatic system, which is just shallow to your skin’s surface. First, start at the soles of your feet, then the tops and the ankles, move up your legs. Use long strokes on your legs toward the upper inner thigh.  Brush your fingers, hands and arms towards your shoulders. On your buttocks and back, stroke towards the front to follow the lymph system. For your abdomen, use circular strokes from right to left – following the direction of your colon.  Be gentle on your chest, the skin is thinner here – again, you are stroking towards your clavicles.

Areas to avoid include genitals, nipples particularly if you are a female; areas of skin which are infected or broken, eczema, psoriasis, and areas of bulging painful varicose veins. This method is not to be used on the neck or face because the skin is too fragile.

After your shower or bath, you can massage into your skin essential oils diluted in a carrier oil such as sweet almond, sunflower or sesame oil.  You can use a single essential oil such as cypress, which is wonderful for detoxification or blend it with juniper and lemon or grapefruit in a very small concentration. Both of these citrus oils can be skin irritants and make you more sensitive to sunlight. Do not use them if you will be in the sun.

Examples of possible essential oil blends which assist the lymphatic system with 1 ounce of carrier oil: 6 drops cypress, 3 drops juniper, 1 drop lemon or grapefruit.  Use this blend daily for not more than 3 days consecutively. To make a gentler blend you could try 3-4 drops of cypress and 5-6 drops of lavender, not to exceed 10 drops total.  Experiment with the oils and discover what suits you.  Cathy has pre-blended oils for the bath and individual essential oils on her Iris Herbal website.

I admit I do get out of the habit of dry skin brushing at times.  When I remember to start again, I feel better and my skin looks healthier.  Having a human body can be a lot to take care of!  I hope you are enjoying Spring, this wonderful season of rebirth, and use some gentle detoxification if you feel it is appropriate.  Always remember to check in with yourself. You are usually your best authority.

Lisa Goodstein, DOM

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Spring from the Perspective of Oriental Medicine

Guest blog post by Lisa Goodstein, DOM

Spring – plants and trees are growing, perennials are poking out again, trees are bearing new beautiful leaves and buds. Depending where you live, this has been happening for a while, or maybe it is just starting. From a Chinese Medical perspective – the Liver is the organ associated with Spring. It is common for a Liver imbalance to be aggravated in this season which makes this a perfect time to support your Liver by eating foods and herbs which benefit this very large and important organ. The liver consistently cleanses our blood, removes toxins and is responsible for the smooth flow and regulation of Qi and blood throughout our bodies. This organ is associated with the color green, movement that is outwards and upwards (like plants at this time of year), and the harmonious interaction of an individual with their external environment.

If you live in New Mexico, this time of year is also known for the wind. Yes, we hear it howling daily, have sand and dirt blowing in our faces, and we navigate around the tumbleweeds in the roadways. Our skin is dry, eyes are irritated and headaches may come and go. Wind also affects us on an emotional level. An East wind affects the Liver the most in Chinese Medical theory and generally causes headaches and neck stiffness. If you are experiencing discomforts due to this weather pattern, it is very likely you have a Liver imbalance. Herbs that could help you include milk thistle, yellow dock, blupleurum, nettles and other herbs which Cathy has discussed in previous weeks. A small amount of foods with a sour taste is beneficial for our Livers. Another ailment you may experience with the wind is a dry annoying cough. For this, the easiest remedy is to poach a pear and eat it while it is still warm.

The topics of these blogs have lately been about detoxification, because from a traditional western perspective and the Judeo-Christian calendar, Spring is the time of year to perform cleansing rituals. This includes cleaning our homes as well as our bodies. In Chinese Medicine these ‘cleanses’ or ‘detoxifications’ are not part of the philosophy because our bodies continually experience detoxification on a gentle daily level. The only time it is appropriate to purge is when we have to rid ourselves of a toxin – this can be in the form of something we ate, an infection, or parasites. It is used only when we need to quickly treat an acute situation.

If you are experiencing headaches, lethargy, irritability, or body pain – you could have a Liver imbalance. A consultation with an Oriental Medical practitioner, Naturopathic doctor, or Ayurvedic practitioner would be useful to clarify your situation and offer you remedies to bring you into balance.

Lisa Goodstein, DOM