Thursday, September 30, 2010
Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
“Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life. You must never miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you.”
Three important quotes in life that will tell you about yourself and about people.
DO YOU FEEL VULNERABLE TODAY? Who wants to reach out to anyone for comfort or help. We all want to do it ourselves. Did you know that the Latin word for vulernable means 'wound'? Sometimes we each have to take ourselves out of circulation for a while. Lick our wounds, heal, retreat, gather ourselves, and start all over again. It is sort of like the Frank Sinatra song, "Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, and Start all over again."
There also is the possibility that your urge to isolate yourself is derived more from fear than anything else. Fear that you will NOT be understood or worse, rejected should you bare your wounds and sorrows. Be careful who you bare your sorrows and wounds to. There are those 'out there' who are jealous, vicious and manipulators. You have been there for your family and friends. I know I have. Chances are that you have forgotten how many people you have touched in your life over the years. I often reflect on that thought--I cry, smile, and laugh. I often went out of my way to help someone . That is my nature and my GOD chosen profession.
And at the same time, others have been there for me as well. Few have. This happens to all of us. My address book is filled with possibilities - acquaintances; actually many addresses and phone numbers. As the end of the month is today--it is time to clean my address book. There are chances that some addresses may contain forgotten and untapped resources. On the other hand there might be some names that need to forgotten. Forgive them, and move on. Let go and move on. I urge you to take this opportunity to clean house- update and remove contacts. This is the time to purge your system of individuals who are no longer a desired part of your life.
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” Walter Winchell said it better than anyone I know - “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
Another plant that contains a lot of mucilage used in respiratory conditions is Mullein (Verbascum). In additon to mucilage, the mullein flower contains saponin and some volatile oils. I like mullein flowers because when collected and cultivated they can be used also as an expectorant. So it is a flower with two properties - muculent and expectorant. It is used in many cough preparations. I have seen it combined with ginger as well. Mullein is often referred to as Verbascum Thapsus, The family is Scrophulariaceae. This is the same family as foxglove (digitalis). Other names might include Aaron’s Rod, Lady’s Foxglove, Donkey’s Ears, Bunny’s Ears, Candlewick, Feltwort, Flannel Leaf, and Jacob’s Staff. To be honest I have only heard it used as either Lady's Foxglove or Donkey's Ears. I thought this herb would be mentioned in Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Plants of the Bible, but it did not appear.
Mullein is a biennial that grows upright to 6 feet tall. The furry leaves form rosettes that alternate and overlap each other. Mullein leaves are large, grayish-green, and lance shaped. Bright yellow flowers bloom along the single spike that comes from the center of the plant. Each flower has five petals. You have probably seen it along roadsides or construction areas. I first saw this plant on the roadsides in Ithaca, New York. Leaves are harvested in the late spring to summer. The uses of mullein are quite long. I have only used it for bronchitis, earaches, and as a cough expectorant. Its uses have been in anemia , arthritis, asthma, colds, earache, hay fever, hemorrhoids, tonsillitis and many other respiratory diseases. Mullein soothes, lubricates, and tones the respiratory system and aides in expectoration by stimulating fluid production. Mullein is sometimes used with other herbs such as white horehound, lobelia, elder, and red clover. The iridoid glycosides stimulate secretion of uric acid from the kidneys.
Mullein as seen below can be used as a tea, as an oil, as a compress and freshly chopped herb.
1. Mullein leaves and/or flowers for infusion tea for respiratory disorders
2. Mullein infused oil from flowers for ear infections, hemorrhoids, and skin disorders
3. Mullein leaf poultice applied to topical boils, sores, ulcers and tumors
4. Mullein tea from fresh chopped leaves filtered through a coffee filter provide a variety of vitamins and other nutrients
5. Mullein compress to relieve swelling
For those of you who are animal lovers: Spencer, our King Charles Cavalier has an ear infection with a fungal rash. He is always scratching his big floppy ears. I have used mullein oil to help ease his ears with great success. I had the advantage of being able to look in his ears first. Ask your vet.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
“The more ugly, older, more cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colors more vibrant, more balanced and beaming.”
Vincent van Gogh
“There are people who are very resourceful at being remorseful, and who apparently feel that the best way to make friends is to do something terrible and then make amends”
“Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. ROLLING IN THE MUCK IS NOT THE BEST WAY OF GETTING CLEAN.”
Many among us have a burdensome secret. Do you have a secret? You might be glancing backwards at the misfortune of the wreckage of your life, and see bits and pieces of your integrity scattered. You might feel guilty or ashamed of something you have done. I have secrets. WE all do. We all bear the moral responsibility of the part we played. You might have hurt yourself or someone else. Remember this: It is in the past. Of course you should make amends. In a twelve step program, making amends is a very important part of your recovery. (Step 9) Do not keep those secrets. I believe you must share your intention to make things right. If making amends will cause harm to others involved I would not do it directly. Yet this is something that needs to be discussed with your therapist, your sponsor (if you are in a twelve step program), a rabbi, a priest, your partner, a family member or a friend.
If the person you have harmed is no longer living I do know from personal experience that you can also make amends. I have done it by having lunch at their grave site. I know this is awkward but it is a powerful tool. You can achieve relief from shame and guilt by confessing OUTLOUD, even if you do it to a shower curtain with no one behind it. These secrets are obstacles; they are blockages. Your soul does beg you to remove the blockages and let the spirit flow. Above everything I have said, Be grateful for your guilt. Think about that statement and read it again. Above all, be grateful for your guilt.
From amends to cough. Herbal medicine has always played a role in the treatment and support of the respiratory system. Herbal teas, herbal cough drops and tinctures are most commonly used. When there is inflammation of the respiratory organs I usually treat it with mucilaginous agents. These act as soothing agents. Another name is demulcent. The demulcent effect is largely due to the mucilage contained in these drugs or herbs.
One of the best known demulcents is Marsh Mellow (Althaea offinalis)
This herb has been used for more than 2,000 years as both a food and a medicine. The Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, and Syrians used marshmallow as a source of food, while the Arabs made poultices from its leaves and applied them to the skin to reduce inflammation. Both the root and leaves contain a gummy substance called mucilage. When mixed with water, it forms a slick gel that is used to coat the throat and stomach to reduce irritation. It is also applied topically to soothe chapped skin.
Very few scientific studies have looked at the effects of marshmallow in humans. Most of its suggested uses come from a long history of use in traditional healing systems.
Some of the diseases marshmallow has been used for are Asthma, Bronchitis, Common cold/sore throat, Cough, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis; indigestion; stomach ulcers and skin inflammation.
Marshmallow originally grew in salty soils but now thrives in moist, uncultivated ground. It is found in southern and western Europe, western Asia, and the northeastern region of North America. Its fleshy, upright stems reach a height of 3 - 4 feet. The pale yellow roots are tapered, long, and thick, with a tough yet flexible exterior. The short-stemmed leaves are round, with irregularly toothed margins and three to five lobes. A soft and velvety down covers the leaves and stem. The flowers have five reddish-white petals. The whole plant, especially the root, is filled with mild mucilage.
The leaves and roots of marshmallow are used for medicinal purposes.
Dried Marshmallow leaves can be used in infusions, fluid extracts, and tinctures. Marshmallow roots are available dried, peeled, or unpeeled in extracts (dry and fluid), tinctures, capsules, ointments/creams, and cough syrups. There are different doses based on which part of the part you are using. I prefer to use the tea below or the cough syrup.
Leaf tea: 2 - 5 tsp of dried leaf in 5 ounces hot (not boiling) water, two to three times per day
Root tea: 2 - 5 tsp. dried powdered root in 5 ounces hot water; let soak for an hour. Drink two to three times per day.
Leaf tincture: 1 - 2 tsp (1:5 in 25% ethanol), two to three times daily
Root infusion or cold-water maceration (2 - 5%): 5 ounces (1-2 tsp) taken to soothe cough and sore throat
Capsules: 2 - 6g per day
Marshmallow cough syrup (from root): 2 - 10g per single dose (this contains sugar so those with high sugar should seek medical approval.)
Ointment or cream: 5 - 10% drug in ointment or cream base
More respiratory herbs...until tomorrow...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
"IF WE LEARN TO OPEN OUR HEARTS, ANYONE INCLUDING THE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE US CRAZY, CAN BE OUR TEACHERS." Pema Chodron
To open your heart is to practice forgiveness. After you have forgiven others, mourned your losses, salvaged the best possible outcome, I feel you have done enough about the past. So now you can leave the known waters of your life and misfortune. You may ask, "What about the unchartered waters?" Anyone can influence their fate, but you nor anyone else can control it. I have learned it has nothing to do with intelligence or how wise you are--life does spin out of control from time to time. I had some out of control behavior this weekend. What did I learn? I learned the art of resilience. I learned I cannot control others' behavior. You must allow yourself to move forward into the unchartered seas.
Beyond the familiar and into unexplored territory of a fresh insight. A fresh new vision. I want the questions to be as important as the answers. I have done this with this blog, botany, needlepoint and now, maybe....beekeeping. There is always the temptation to keep the disappointment close to you. I have done it with a 5 year volunteer project. I still take it out, gaze upon it with morbid fascination and say, "What if the Board... How could I have done it differently..." I have now released my disappointment and moved on. No more clinging. I know this as if I were a painter. Brilliant--- The landscape of my life ( and yours) has been changed by what has happened.. Unchartered seas..."Don't Rain on My Parade."
An herb that has not been discussed as a mild sedative is Indian Snakeroot Rauwolfa serpentina . Although not used as often for sedation as it is for high blood pressure, I believe it deserves some mention in this section. Indian Snakeroot is used to reduce fevers, promote menstruation, and treat diarrhea and dysentery. An extract of the root has been used to calm irritable or colicky babies. In 1952, Western doctors were able to isolate and identify the substances that account for its medicinal qualities. It was discovered that reserpine, an alkaloid in the root, was a powerful depressant and sedative, and for a time, was the only treatment for calming seriously disturbed patients. Today, reserpine has transformed the treatment of mental illnesses and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Indians call Indian Snakeroot “moonshine plant” for its sedative and hypnotic properties. It is said that holy men such as Mahatma Gandhi have chewed the root of this herb to attain a state of philosophic detachment while meditating. Indians use this plant for treating insanity or “moon disease,” and folk healers have long since used it as an antidote for poisonous snake bites. I love the term " moon disease".
Indian snakeroot is linked to the holy men of India. This herbal plant is known as the chandrika - in Sanskrit, and literally translated as the "moonshine plant" – has historically been of great esteem in India, as it serves as a sedative and hypnotic drug for the treatment of insanity linked to the lunar phases, or what is called "moon disease".
While the beneficial effects and the time honored and traditional uses of the plant are well documented, the active principles responsible for the plants beneficial effects remained unknown for a long period of time. The medicinal compounds that are responsible for the beneficial effects of the plant were isolated and named in 1952 by a team of Western doctors. One of the compounds isolated from extracts of the plant is the alkaloid called reserpine; this alkaloid is one of the fifty active chemical substances that were isolated from the herb's root. This compound revolutionized the alleviation and treatment of mental illness as well as high blood pressure problems. The side effects can include edema and nightmares.
It is not a medicine I have used a lot in cardiology or the treatment of high blood pressure. Today there are a variety of medications as well as supplements and herbs.
The genus Rauwolfia consists of more than a hundred distinct species of plants. The name of this genus is the Latinized last name of Dr. Leonhard Rauwolf, the 16th-century German physician and explorer. All of the plant species in this genus are found growing in the moist tropical forests along the tropical Pacific coastline, in tropical South America, as well as in the Asian and African tropical regions.
There is a difference between Indian Snakeroot and Sakeroot. Snakeroot is sometimes referred to as Tall Boneset. It actually resembles boneset in its flowers. Snakeroot is a poisonous plant.
An inspirational song for those who want to sail those unchartered seas !!
DON'T RAIN ON MY PARADE
Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade
Don't tell me not to fly, I simply got to
If someone takes a spill, it's me and not you
Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade
I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out, your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir
I guess I didn't make it
But whether I'm the rose of sheer perfection
A freckle on the nose of life's complexion
The Cinderella or the shine apple of its eye
I gotta fly once, I gotta try once,
Only can die once, right, sir?
Ooh, life is juicy, juicy and you see,
I gotta have my bite, sir.
Get ready for me love, 'cause I'm a "comer"
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Don't bring around the cloud to rain on my parade,
I'm gonna live and live NOW!
Get what I want, I know how!
One roll for the whole shebang!
One throw that bell will go clang,
Eye on the target and wham,
One shot, one gun shot and bam!
Hey, Mr. Arnstein, here I am ...
I'll march my band out, I will beat my drum,
And if I'm fanned out, your turn at bat, sir,
At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir,
I guess I didn't make it
Get ready for me love, 'cause I'm a "comer"
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Nobody, no, nobody, is gonna rain on my parade!
For the movie fan - "Don't Rain On My Parade" is a popular song from the 1964 musical Funny Girl. It was also featured in the 1968 movie version of the musical. The song was written by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne. Both the movie and stage versions feature Barbra Streisand performing the song. It has since become one of her signature tunes.
Ms Streisand portrayed Fanny Brice (who died in 1951) on the stage in 1964 and in film in 1968. Ms. Brice was a popular and influential American illustrated song "model", comedienne, singer, theater and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances and is known as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show. This is a must movie for ALL.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T Washington
If only everyone would live by this quote. Many people easily forget where they came from and the struggles or obstacles they endured. This doesn't have to be. This applies to you. Not only the struggling actor who now has a hit television series, or the writer's blocked author who has finally written the best-seller. There is nothing in a position whether doctor, lawyer, teacher, CEO or CFO. Be grateful and humble for what you have and what position you are in. I will never forget the movie, Malice where Alec Baldwin portrays a doctor. There was a mishap and during the interview he loudly states as he bangs the table, "I am God," when discussing his surgical technique.
No one is God and no one is perfect. There is no perfection. If we only would not forget our past. Remember the struggles your parents had in raising you. Remember how your family scrimped and saved? Maybe this isn't you. Maybe you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth? Regardless, we all should be humble and have humility. Many people have these dark secrets, do not want to face their demons, and seek addictions to satisfy this black hole. These addictions (sex, alcohol, shopping, family drama) do not help their demons nor their obstacles. Sometimes these addictions lead to these obstacles. I am beyond grateful. I am humble. I am a human being with feelings. Intelligence and education does not matter at this point. Human kindness does matter. It always will matter. Have you forgotten where you came from? Have you decided to ignore your past? Do you have humility? Are you humble?
Kava or kava-kava (Piper methysticum) (Piper: Latin for 'pepper', methysticum: (Latinized) Greek for 'intoxicating') is a crop of the western Pacific. The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with mild sedative properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia (including Hawaii), Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia and Australia. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones. A Cochrane Collaboration systematic review concluded that it was likely to be more effective than placebo at treating short-term social anxiety. Safety concerns have been raised over liver toxicity largely due to the use of stems and leaves by supplement makers, as opposed to solely the root of the plant as dictated by traditional uses, although the ultimate long-term safety of the herb is not settled.
Historically Kava kava is the name given to the drink which is made for religious ceremonies. The important compounds in the kav kava are the number of lactones known as kava pyrones. The most important is kavaine but there are many compounds that are active. I prefer to use kava in increasing doses.
I think the historical aspects of kava are interesting to read :
"Kava seizes one's mind. This is not a literal; seizure, but something does change in the process by which information enters, is retrieved or leads to actions as a result. Thinking is certainly affected by the kava experience, but not in the same ways as are found with caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or marijuana. I would personally characterize the changes I experienced as going from lineal processing of information to a greater sense of 'being' and contentment with being. Memory seemed to be enhanced whereas restrictive of data inputs was strongly desired especially with regard to disturbances of light, movements, noise and so on. Peace and quiet were very important to maintain the inner sense of serenity. My senses seemed to be unusually sharpened so that even whispers seemed to be loud while loud noises were extremely unpleasant." - RJ Gregory
There are numerous studies to show beneficial results from consuming kava.
Studies reveal that the sedative effect is achieved with 180 - 210 mg two to three times a day.
Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915. He was representative of the last generation of black leaders born in slavery and spoke on behalf of blacks living in the South. A great author and motivator for ALL people.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
"The frustrations around us are not who WE are. When WE are at peace within, WE live among spiritual riches."
The ending of Summer 2010 Cherry Grove Fire Island. It was happy, yet disappointing. It was frustrating. I am not who I appeared to be this weekend. I was among many friends, some who are family to us. It was difficult for me to be at peace on this beautiful island. Mainly due to my stinking thinking and not being able to finally let go of a situation. I had expectations of people, being polite, having courtesy and just being friendly. Who was I kidding. I was dealing mainly with people who are sick--sick in the mind and sick of booze in their bodies. It is hard to be sober and deal with those who are not sober. It is hard to care for a community when those in charge of the community do not care. By the end of the weekend I was calmer.
On a more positive note, I also had much communication with friends. I have open communication with my partner Rick, too. Can you imagine if I didn't? Do you have an open communication line with your loved ones? Are you able to talk about anything that is on your mind? There are friends, and then their are true friends. Two fine friends spoke their mind. In short words (maybe not so short) they made others read between the lines of what people are saying, and allowed them to decipher the real truth. The truth is quiet and not loud. Peace came, calmness ruled
Let us continue with St. John's Wort...
I do not think that people give St. John’s Wort an effective time of use. It takes more than days and weeks. An effective time period for use is 2-3 months. The first effects are noted in 2 -3 weeks. I have seen sunburns when people taking it exposed themselves to direct sunlight on the beach. Some consider St. John’s Wort to be a psychotropic drug.
In addition to being used in depression, I have used it for circulation problems and nerve injury. I have seen cancer patients using this herb for its anti-tumor effects. I have never used St. John’s Wort as an inhibitor of neoplastic activity.
As you know I love the historical aspect of herbs. There is a tale about the red spots. Symbolic of the blood of St. John, the spots appear on the leaves on the anniversary of the saint’s beheading. The beheading of St. John the Baptist is best seen in an oil painting by Italian artist Caravaggio. It is entitled, "The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist”. The painting depicts the execution while nearby Salome stands with a golden platter to receive his head. Another bystander, the woman Herodias realizes that this execution is wrong.
The other tale is that if you sleep with a piece of the plant under your pillow, St. John will appear to you in a dream and give you a blessing. In Greek it is known as 'spathochorto' referring to its ability to heal sword wounds. It was also credited for keeping evil spirits away, for which purpose it was hung above doors on the eve of St John's day (June 24), when witches were thought to be most active. Its mystique was confirmed by the way the juice of the plant turns red on exposure to air - a phenomenon thought to symbolize the blood of St John the Baptist.
Christians believe that John the Baptist had a specific role ordained by God as precursor to Jesus. Some say that John the Baptist baptized Christ.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway.
God understands our prayers even when we can't find the words to say them. ~Author Unknown
What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. ~Eleanor Powell
There are many quotes that deal with GOD. For me, GOD is good orderly direction. GOD is the GOD of my understanding. Each of us, based on religious beliefs has a different GOD. I wonder, do we all pray to the GOD of our understanding which in reality is the same entity? I believe today that GOD is spiritual. I nearly lost my faith in God in 1982 when my mother suddenly died. Perhaps GOD wanted a master dressmaker in heaven. I do not really think I ever lost my faith, but I diverted from organized religion. In college and medical school I started to explore other religious beliefs.
By 1996, I had a new spirituality. This was in part due to my first 2 years of sobriety. I was frightened when I read about GOD in the 12 step program. Yet, because it was the GOD of my understanding--it made it easier. GOD at the beginning was the other people sitting in the 12 step room. Then it was my mother. Then it was the big Oak tree in Central Park. I cannot even describe what GOD is today. He/she is a power greater than myself. He/she is there to guide me. I know now that he/she was walking beside me even in my darkest hours. He/she never let me down. Today I can pray in a church, a temple, any room, or in a open green field. There is a line in the AA Promises that states, "We will suddenly realize that GOD is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."
Are you spiritual? Have you ever described your GOD to another hman being? Are you happy with the GOD of your understanding?
One of the most oversought herbs has been St. Johns Wort. St. John's wort is the plant species Hypericum perforatum, and is also known as Tipton's Weed, Chase-devil, or Klamath weed. I have never used these other names for this plant. St. John's wort is widely known as an herbal treatment for depression.
What confuses me is that St John's wort is used to refer to any species of the genus Hypericum. The species of Hypericum have been placed by some in the family Hypericaceae, but more recently have been included in the family Clusiaceae. This also confuses me. The more I have learned about Herb families, the more confused I get. There seems to be changes in nomenclature that I cannot understand why or for what reason. Approximately 370 species of the genus Hypericum exist worldwide with a native geographical distribution including temperate and subtropical regions of North America, Europe, Turkey, Russia, India, and China.
St. John's wort is widely known as an herbal treatment for depression. I love St. John's wort not only for the pretty flower, but for the number of studies that have been published. I know of at least 30 studies that have been done with some beneficial results. There are studies in progress at the following sites:
1. Effect of St. John's Wort/University at Buffalo
2. Effect of St. John's Wort on Oral Contraceptives/NIH & Columbia University
3. Efficacy of St. John's Wort for Smoking Cessation/Martin Mahoney, M.D., Ph.D
4. Effects of St. John’s Wort on Women Receiving Estrogen/University of Illinois
5. The Influence of St. John's Wort on the Pharmacokinetics and Protein Binding of Imatinib Mesylate/New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists & NIH
6. St. John’s Wort Effects on Emergency Contraceptive Pills/The University of Utah - College of Nursing
There are more than 370 species of the genus Hypericum (St. John's wort), several of which are not pharmacologically active. Not all St. John's wort is equal. The vast majority of OTC St. John's wort formulations are made with aerial parts, AKA “Grind”, whole ground up plant, not the small red and white dots in flowers that contain the precious napthrodianthrones. Grind does not contain hyperforin. I think this is important because when you, the consumer buys an herb- are you really wanting the active part of the herb. Of even greater concern, grind contain zanthrones found in the stems which are the source of the controversial MAO inhibitors. This type of antidepressant has some contraindications especially dietary. If anyone on a MAO inhibitor has a food containing tyramine there can be deadly consequences like severe high blood pressure. MAO inhibitors were the number one cause of drug overdoses in the early days of prescription antidepressants.
Extracting high quality hyperforin (which is the active ingredient) is difficult and costly. First the plant must be of superior quality, preferably grown in non-phosphate fertilizers. Upon harvest the flowers must be carefully dried so the hyperforin can be extracted via methanol extraction process.
How to use St John's wort can vary from herbalist to herbalist. Some combine it with other herbs, and some use it alone. There needs to be more discussion on this herb--
Eleanor Torrey Powell (November 21, 1912 – February 11, 1982) was an American film actress and dancer of the 1930s and 1940s, known for her exuberant solo tap dancing.
I consider her among the top female dancers of all time. Sure we cannot forget Ruby Keeler (wife of the great Al Jolson), Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse and many more.
Born in Springfield Mass she began a great Broadway to film career. Who could forget her in Begin the Beguine with Fred Astaire in 1940. She was there for Fred in 1981 when he received the American Film Institute Award.
Don't you love her quote above.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, "I'm proud of what I am and who I am, and I'm just going to be myself."
“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”
Accomplishment of anything will build your self-esteem and self confidence. This blog has done a lot for my self esteem. I try to the best of my ability to do it every day. A little addictive or compulsive, it is true. But it does help my self esteem. I am reaching out to you..whoever you may be. I review what I do everyday by doing this blog. It has been an accomplishment for the last 195 days. Almost 200 days and blogs.
It is true we must look inside and find our own inner strength. What are some of your accomplishments that have boosted your own self-esteem? I do know that my living by a 12 step program has helped me beyond my wildest dreams. My worst day sober is better than any day not sober. All is maneagable with the help of GOD, prayer and meditation. I have gone through heart surgery, family deaths, difficult work situations and general life stress. Life on Life's Terms. It is maneagable. I have assisted in helping MY own community as a volunteer physician for five years. At this point, I have to remember I did well and did what I thought was right for the community. I also knew when to step outside of the box in this volunteer capacity when philosophical divergence was apparent. I also have stepped outside the box when dealing with patients in regard to different modalities of medicine.
I have hobbies. I will admit that some have developed into addictions--so buying a canvas or two can be addictive. Yet as you see I finish them at incredible speed. I also love books--I love to read, learn and teach. I finally gave in to an Amazon Kindle--me using an electronic book -what is the world coming to?
Make a list of all of your accomplishments. Have you been satisfied ? Do you need something else to do? Are you happy?
Have a date with yourself and savour the accomplishments. When I graduated from the Integrative Medicine Fellowship with Andrew Weil in Arizona I was joined by my children, Rick, my brother Michael and his parents. My dad was dying in a hospital. he wanted me to go and receive my diploma. He said he would hang on till I came home. He would know no matter what that I received my diploma. I returned on a Sunday/Monday a.m. morning. He did know that I graduated. He died peacefully the very next day.
As promised in yesterday's blog, today we discuss Skullcap: Scutellaria lateriflora. Skullcap is used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions including epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, and withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilizers. I have never used it for this, but many herbalists make a medicinal infusion of the plant to promote menstruation. As with most herbs it should not be given to pregnant women since it can induce a miscarriage. Skullcap is currently being used in combination with other herbs and supplements to treat ADD and a number of nerve disorders. I have used it in combination with the following:
Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, Rosemary, and Prickly Ash . I do know some herbalists who have combined it with Eleuthero Root.
By the way, this skullcap (American) differs from Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis ) other herbalists use. Chinese skullcap is high in flavinoids and thus an anti-inflammatory. The high flavinoid content makes it anti-tumor, anti-viral and anti-retroviral too. Chinese skullcap has been used in treatment of cancer, HIV and other immune disorders.
Three photographs of skullcap.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Life is about making the right decisions and moving on. ~
~ Quietly forgiving and moving on is a gift to God ~ and yourself. ~
When you make the right decision to move on it is so much easier. It feels as if a burden was lifted. What I thought was fun or rather the 'right thing to do' is no longer. Recently, in order to move on from a loving , caring project after five years I have to quietly forgive. I have to realize that everyone does not care like I do. We all have different reasons for doing projects, especially volunteering. Is it self serving? Do we need to be loved and wanted? Is it for the passion of the project? Again, here come those expectations. When you expect you get disappointment. I have to also realize that when working with people--some may not be sober. Not only sober from their addiction or drug, but sober in every other aspects of life. Then, there are those who are sober in their addiction/drug and never really changed their behaviors. I must realize that everyone has their diseases of the mind. In order to forgive, look at those faces--wish them well, pray for them and move on.
Moving on is is truly a gift from GOD -- a gift to yourself. When was the last time GOD sent you a gift? When was the last time you had a real date with yourself?
The hardest time for me was moving on after my mom passed. It is more than 25 years, but never forgotten. As I get older, it is hard to have a mental picture of the past. Today is not a special day, nor her birthday month, but I dreamed of her last night for some reason.
There's a magic in a Mother's touch
And sunshine in her smile
There's love in everything she does
To make our lives worthwhile.
We can find hope and courage
Just by looking in her eyes.
Her laughter is a source of joy
Her words are warm and wise.
There is kindness and compassion
To be found in her embrace
And I see the light of heaven
Shining from my Mother's face.
The mind... Anxiety, Depression, Paranoid, Borderline Personality Disorders...
The nervines or adaptogens that assist anxiety/stress have already been discussed. None of those herbs can make up for lack of sleep, poor diet and a host of other issues. It is said that Americans are overstuffed yet undernourished. That does make sense with all the fast food Americans consume. Nervines like passionflower, lemon balm, and hawthorne can help. Others that can help are linden flower, skullcap, motherwort and milky oats which have not been discussed in this blog yet. I also discussed another nervine, chamomille. It was discussed for gastrointestinal calming. Yet most people use and know chamomille for anxiety and sleeplessness. I cannot express the important of sleep. When sleep deprived our adrenal glands which sit on the top of the kidneys get disregulated, tired and fatigued.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca ) is an herb I commonly use for extra heart beats, or palpitations. I usually combine this with hawthorne, night blooming cactus and scotch broom when used to slow down fast heart rates, as in atrial fibrillation. When I use it as a nervine I combine it with vervain (Verbena hastata ). Other sources on motherwort say it is often used for women with premenstrual syndrome or menopausal irritability. I have seen other herbalists add lavender to it. Lately I have been using motherwort for those with "white coat hypertension or "doctor anxiety".
Motherwort is a herbaceous perennial plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Spearmint, lemon balm and other mints are in this family. Other common names include Throw-wort, Lion's Ear, and Lion's Tail. Originally from Central Asia it is now found worldwide, spread largely due to its use as a herbal remedy.
As all mints, L. cardiaca has a square stem and opposite leaves. The leaves have serrated margins and are palmately lobed with long petioles; basal leaves are wedge shaped with three points while the upper leaves are more latticed. Flowers appear in leaf axils on the upper part of the plant and it blooms from June - August. The flowers are small, pink to lilac in color and often with furry lower lips. In Ithaca I have seen it growing along roadsides.
The herb contains the alkaloid leonurine, which is a mild vasodilator and has a relaxing effect on smooth muscles. For this reason, it has long been used as a cardiac tonic, nervine, and an emmenagogue. It also contains a bitter glycosides. Remember foxglove (digitalis) is a cardiac glycoside.
I use it for atrial fibrillation, which is an arrhythmia, and it is also useful for palpitations due to Overactive thyroid.
Until tomorrow... Skullcap
Monday, September 20, 2010
"Our life's purpose is much clearer when WE work to help, not to possess."
What is your purpose? This was the question asked in the play, "Avenue Q". The dialogue is between Princetown and the ensemble. It states the following:
I don�t know how I know,
But I�m gonna find my purpose.
I don�t know where I�m gonna look,
But I�m gonna find my purpose.
Gotta find out.
Don�t wanna wait.
Got to make sure that my life will be great.
Gotta find my purpose.
Before it�s too late.
I do know that when you find your purpose , it does make life a lot easier. It is like growing up. What did you want to be when you were growing up? The president, a doctor, a teacher, or a fireperson! I wanted to be doctor. I knew that from any early age. I knew I wanted to help people. That was my purpose. GOD guided me in this direction. I know that today. I think we all have to be messengers and angels to other people. You must pass on what you know. You must communicate with another human being about your feelings. Tell the other person your purpose. Whatever it may be.
I was reading a thank you letter from someone. It meant nothing to me. There was no sincerity in the note. It was done because the person felt obligated. This individual has no purpose in life. You should never do anything that you feel obligated to. It must come from the spirit and heart. Words mean nothing. When I read cards, letters or thank you notes from individuals, I close my eyes and imagine if I could picture that person reading those words. It is unique when you tap into your own mind--the thoughts, the imagery and the voice.
Never try to possess. What is the definition of possess? The definitions are, "to occupy in person; to hold or actually have in one's own keeping; to have and to hold." It can also be to have the legal title to; to have a just right to; to be master of; to own; to have; as, to possess property, an estate, a book. Or to obtain occupation or possession of; to accomplish; to gain; to seize. Sometimes it means to enter into and influence; to control the will of; to fill; to affect; -- said especially of evil spirits, passions, etc.
I prefer 'to control the will of'. I never want to control the will of anyone. Everyone should control their own will. So the quote above now read together does make perfect sense. Do you possess the will of anyone other than yourself? Let's hope not.
Life is so good. The way I feel today- so light, so peaceful, so serene. - I Haven't Got a Worry in the World --
It is estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from depression. Do you know the common depression symptoms? Do you know about different types of depression? If you think you have depression you need to talk openly with your doctor. I feel it is so important for the doctor to learn about the patient. I often ask about the family, friends, job and the hobbies. I ask about alcohol use.
Are you depressed? The symptoms of depression may surprise you. All depression types are not the same. Read about the causes and symptoms of major depression and the available treatments.There are many different types of depression. Some are major, chronic, atypical, bipolar, seasonal and psychotic types. Did you ever think that depression might be genetic? Or run in families?
Some types of depression run in families, indicating that a biological vulnerability to depression can be inherited. This is especially true of bipolar disorder. Families in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder have been studied.
Major depression also seems to occur in generation after generation in some families, although not as strongly as in bipolar I or II. Indeed, major depression can also occur in people who have no family history of depression.
An external event often seems to initiate an episode of depression. A serious loss, chronic illness, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any unwelcome change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. During the AIDS epidemic in the 1980's there were many reported cases of depression in the young gay male population.
Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder. Stressors that contribute to the development of depression sometimes affect some groups more than others. This is often seen in minority groups affected by discrimination. Socioeconomically disadvantaged groups have higher rates of depression compared to their advantaged counterparts. Immigrants to the United States may be more vulnerable to developing depression, particularly when isolated by language. This does make sense. Can you imagine being alone in a different country with very little understanding of the language?
Regardless of ethnicity, men appear to be particularly sensitive to the depressive effects of unemployment, divorce, low socioeconomic status, and having few good ways to cope with stress. Women who have been the victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, either as a child or an adult have an increased risk of developing depression. Gay men seem to be particularly vulnerable to depression when they have no domestic partner, do not identify themselves as homosexual, or have been the victim of multiple episodes of antigay violence. However, it seems that men and women have similar risk factors for depression for the most part.
What is more complex and fascinating than the human brain? The 100-plus chemicals that circulate in the brain are known as neurochemicals or neurotransmitters. I have discussed these NT's when discussing inflammation of the small intestines Much of our research and knowledge has focused on four of these neurochemical systems: norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Different neuropsychiatric illnesses seem to be associated with an overabundance or a lack of some of these neurochemicals in certain parts of the brain. Repeated use of drugs or alcohol, however, desensitizes the dopamine system, which means that the system gets used to the drugs and alcohol. Therefore, a person needs more drugs or alcohol to achieve the same high feeling. Thus, the addicted person takes more substance but feels less and less high and increasingly depressed. This is usually when the addict has hit "bottom". I have seen many alcoholics who have hit bottom but fail to recognize it. This is denial.
Certain medications used for a variety of medical conditions are more likely than others to cause depression as a side effect. The beta blockers which decrease heart rate and blood pressure has been a cause of depression in the elderly. Specifically, some medications that are used to treat cancer, seizures, extreme pain, and to achieve contraception can result in depression.
The treatment of depression is varied. It can range from individual therapy with psychologist or psychiatrist, group therapy, conventional anti-depressant medications, herbal preparations, meditation, yoga and acupuncture. The newer anti depressants or serotonin uptake inhibitors have changed how we treat depression.
You need to recognize the symptoms in yourself or another person and seek medical attention.
Since I want a truly holistic approach to wellness I will discuss herbs for the treatment of depression. In traditional homeopathy I would discuss the seven chakras, the four elements (earth, water, fire and air), the senses and the eight principles of Chinese Medicine. When a person's emotions are depressed the second chakra flower essences will help emotionally stimulate them. The secodn chakra deals with the sensations connected with emotions of anger, fear, sadness, grief, shame, guilt and joy. For every chakra there are particular flower essences to be used. The color for this chakra is orange. The essences are California Poppy, Calendula, Echinacea, Blanketflower and even Pomegranite. Homeopathy and Flower essences are another field of medicine which medical health professionals can use to treat a variety of diseases.
I will discuss herbs used in the treatment of depression.
In order to deal with depression, the emotions of sadness, grief, and fear need to be understood and put into proper perspective. Are you in contact with your emotions? All of our emotions flow like the Nile river, and depend on the driving force of the energy that moves it. In this river we are flowing or bucking the tides. In a way each of us are continually releasing, cleansing, evolving and changing.
Herbs can assist in the healing process.
Fot today--a day at a time...I Haven't Got a Worry in the World
Sentimental music sweet and low
Lamps upon the table wink and glow
All the smiling waiters seem to know
Exactly how I feel
I'm dancing with my honey
My honey close to me
And I haven't got a worry in the world
I am happy as a bluebird
How happy can you be
I haven't got a worry in the world
Above the cares of day
My honey arms are signing
Enjoy us while you may
I dreamy as a lovebird
How dreamy can you be
My heart is in a flurry,
My pulse is in a hurry
But I haven't Got a Worry
Haven't got a worry in the world
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."
- C. S. Lewis
DO WE NEED FRIENDS? As I get older I believe this quote more and more. How many true friends do you have? Can the friends be counted on one hand? Two hands?
We all had friends in grade school, high school and college. How many do we still keep in touch with? Facebook, Classmates and my Space has allowed us to keep in contact. True friends know you inside and out. Life partners, as in my case are often your best friend. For me, it is the best friend I have. Yes, I have another best friend with whom I have been through the tough times. And many I once thought to be friends are mere acquaintances. And there are a few, increasing in number lately that I wouldn't want even as an acquaintances. These "folk" are bad karma, or drama infested. I strive for 'drama free'. I make a decision because I want to make a decision. Today I choose whom I want to be friends with. This is not a Friend Request Confirmation on Facebook. Friendship does give value to survival. Make a list of your true friends. How many are there really?
A tisane made with fresh HOPS is a remedy for sleeplessness. Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a sedative herb that I have not discussed. The others discussed so far have been Valerian, Passion Flower, and the California Poppy. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis ) was discussed when discussing digestive disorders as I use it for the nervous stomach.
Those who like beer, know Hops. It is used in beer brewing. Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine. Hops were cultivated continuously around the 8th or 9th century AD in Bohemian gardens in the Hallertau district of Bavaria and other parts of Europe The first documented use of hops in beer as a bittering agent is from the eleventh century. Prior to this period, brewers used a wide variety of bitter herbs and flowers. Dandelion, burdock root, marigold, and horehound were often used prior to the discovery of hops. Hops are used extensively in brewing today for their many purported benefits, including balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness, contributing a variety of desirable flavors and aromas, and having an antibiotic effect that favors the activity of brewer's yeast over less desirable microorganisms.
The hop plant is a vigorous climbing herbaceous perennial, usually trained to grow up strings in a field called a hopfield, hop garden or hop yard when grown commercially. Many different varieties of hops are grown by farmers around the world, with different types being used for particular styles of beer.
There is apparently more to beer than just drinking it. The effect of hops on the finished beer varies by type and use, though there are two main hop types: bittering and aroma. Bittering hops have higher concentrations of alpha acids, and are responsible for the large majority of the bitter flavor of a beer. The degree of bitterness imparted by hops depends on the degree to which otherwise insoluble alpha acids (AAs) are isomerized during the boil. Flavors and aromas are described appreciatively using terms which include grassy, floral ,citrus , spicey, "piney," "lemony," and "earthy".
Hops are also used in herbal medicine in a way similar to valerian, as a treatment for anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. A pillow filled with hops is a popular folk remedy for sleeplessness. Hops may be used alone, but more frequently they are combined with other herbs, such as valerian. The relaxing effect of hops may be due, in part, to the specific chemical component dimethylvinyl carbinol. Tom's deodorant is aluminum free and I believe contains hops, for its antibacterial affect.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
"When we accept ourselves with all our imperfections, we then can begin to accept others just as they are."
It is a lesson to be learned. As I always say, there is no perfection only progress. None of us are perfect. We may think we are, but we certainly are not. I must say the serenity prayer more than once a day. I have accepted people just as they are. It is difficult when I see a person suffering mentally, physically and psychologically. I see it on a daily basis. There comes a time when one must move on. Have you moved on from a situation? I have moved on in relationships, in occupations, in hobbies and in volunteer positions. When something does not make you happy anymore it is time to move on. In the past I might have thought this was a defeat. Actually it is an accomplishment and an achievement to know when you have done enough. It is always better to move on when you are at the top. One should enjoy life. What have you enjoyed in your life? I am going to enjoy the peace , serenity and love of Fire Island as the future unfolds. Being with Rick, and friends at the beach and among the plants is the best. Try to find a place for yourself in life where you and nature can be one. BE AMONG THE PLANTS
In discussing the sedatives, I have discussed Valerian and Passion Flower. I want to discuss briefly the California Poppy. Like the opium poppy, Eschscholyzia california also contains alkaloids with sedative and hypnotic properties. It is native to grassy and open areas from sea level to 2,000m (6,500 feet) altitude in the western United States throughout California, extending to Oregon, southern Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Mexico in Sonora and northwest Baja California. At the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, the back garden has the most beautiful orange colored poppies.
However, compared to the other poppies and their alkaloids, this poppy is relatively safe to be used. It brings the body to a state of equilibrium, not narcotic like the phenanthrene alkaloids of morphine and codeine. It is important for those reading not to confuse the California Poppy with that of the Opium Poppy.
I wonder if the Wicked Witch of west placed California or Opium Poppies in the field to deter Dorothy from reaching the Emerald City. Poppies are used as emblems on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep. This aspect was used, fictionally, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to create magical poppy fields, dangerous because they caused those who passed through them to sleep forever. Do you remember that scene?
Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are extracted. Opium is the source of many opiates, including morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The Latin botanical name means, loosely, the "sleep-bringing poppy", referring to the sedative properties of some of these opiates. The poppy is the only species of Papaveraceae that is an agricultural crop grown on a large scale. Poppy seeds of Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil, a healthy edible oil that has many uses. It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
The leaves are alternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2–6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather.
It grows well in disturbed areas. In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens. It is also pictured in welcome signs while entering California. It is the official flower of California. April 6 is designated California Poppy Day.
Top photograph: Judy Garland sleeping among the Poppies in 1939 Wizard of Oz
Other photographs: The California Poppy
Saturday, September 18, 2010
"The most helpful thing we can do for someone is to listen and care; then we need to let go of the outcome."
On a daily basis I am reminded this is the most important aspect of my occupation as a physician. Medicine is not taught in the classroom but at the bedside according to Sir William Osler. When I read the "Quotable Osler" I get inspired. The quote above is Oslerian--if there is such a word! Medicine is my vocation. It is my belief that we do not listen to each other very well. Doctors do not listen to their patients. Patients tell us everything about themselves. Why do I let patients talk about their dreams, families, fears, hopes and their health? Because I care. Today, I try to the best of my ability to listen outside my scope of medicine. I have to take the cotton out of my ears, place it in my mouth and listen. I hope when I do that I can truly listen to the person speaking.
This week I let go of an outcome. I must tell you that I feel weightless. I feel lighter. I feel happier. I have realized that what I have done tirelessly for an effort was the right thing to do. I cannot control people, places and things. I cannot control anyone else's behavior except mine. Have you controlled your behavior in a given situation? What was your role? Do you truly listen to others when they speak?
I do know that medicine is my vocation chosen by above. Some may say it is my calling. I do know that I need an avocation- some intellectual or non intellectual pastime, which serves me to keep in touch with the world of art, science, or of letters. I have countless avocations or hobbies. What are your avocations?
Can plants and flowers be your avocation?
When I think of a sedative plant alternative I always used to think of Valerian. The nervous function is suppressed when it is used appropiately. Sedatives induce sleep. Valerian is widely used in Europe. I used to use it more in my daily practice. I have found that some people get the opposite reaction. Some take valerian and get nervous. This is an idiosyncratic reaction. It does happen more often than not. I have found that those who get active or hyper with valerian have some thyroid imbalance, either overactive or underactive thyroid function. I have seen more hypothyroidism in patients with these idosyncratic reactions.
Hops is another sedative but it is not as strong. I personally do not like the bitter taste of hops. Hops is found in beer. Beer has barley and barley is a gluten grain. For those with gluten sensitivity--Hops would not be the greatest choice for a sedative herb.
So let's discuss Passion Flower. The passion flower or passion vines (Passiflora) are a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants. They are mostly vines, with some being shrubs, and a few species being herbaceous. It is impossible to discuss every species of this plant.
I found it intriguing that many insects and birds have adapted to one or two plant species within the Passiflora Family. For example the sword billed hummingbird will feed on two species of passiflora- one being the Passiflora mixata.
Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as Maypop, Purple passionflower, True passionflower, Wild apricot, and Wild passion vine, is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems. A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the Maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is a common wildflower in the southern United States. The Cherokee in the Tennessee area called it ocoee; the Ocoee River and valley are named after this plant, which is the Tennessee State Wildflower. This is the most unique flower I have seen to date. It is 'extraterrestial' or 'maritian like' yet so beatiful.
The stems can be smooth or pubescent; they are long and trailing, possessing many tendrils. Leaves are alternate and palmately 3-lobed, measuring from 6-15 cm. They have two characteristic glands at the base of the blade on the petiole. Flowers have five bluish-white petals. They exhibit a white and purple corona, a structure of fine appendages between the petals and corolla. The large flower is typically arranged in a ring above the petals and sepals. They are pollinated by insects such as bumblebees, and are self-sterile. The flower normally blooms in July.
The fleshy fruit, also in itself called a Maypop, is an oval yellowish berry about the size of a hen egg; it is green at first, but then becomes orange as it matures. .
Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea. A sedative chewing gum was even produced in Romania in 1978.
In addition to anxiety and insomnia, I have used passion flower in combination with valerian and lemon balm (Melissa offincinalis) to treat restless leg syndrome. Studies have been done using Passion Flower for alcohol and opoid dependence. I use 1/2 to 1 ml of tincture 2 - 3 times a day for patients with anxiety disorders.
Photographs: Both are Avocations
Friday, September 17, 2010
"GOD ...is able to do far more than we would dare to ask or even dream of --infinitely beyond our highest prayer, desires, thoughts or hopes."
"All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let our dreams die, but others nourish and protect them, nurse them through bad days till they bring them to sunshine and light, which always come to those who sincerely believe that their dreams will come true." - Woodrow Wilson
When I think of the word dream, many thoughts come to mind. One of those words is fun. Do you want to have fun today? The answer to that question is very simple--YES. So relax without any guilt and do not worry about the work that is not done. It will eventually get done. If I do not have a full schedule I want to have fun. I will needlepoint, paint, and even write my blog earlier. I even let myself enjoy work. Yes, work can be pleasurable too! If you decide to have fun, you must remember to LET YOURSELF ENJOY IT.
We all have dreams. Maybe not in the sense of remembering every aspect of that happy dream last night. A dream is a succession of images, sounds or emotions that the mind experiences during sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.
When I wrote dream I knew people would think of the above definition.
Are your dreams your aspirations or desires? Are your dreams unrealistic? Is it your dream to want to be a star on the Broadway stage, or a famous writer with a book on the top 10 list? I know when I rid myself of unnecessary stress... clean 'house' of bad karma, pray and meditate for serenity and peace-- I can see my dreams more clearly.
Be grateful today and acknowledge all of your dreams. Open yourself up to try on a daily basis to achieve that dream to the best of your ability. Take responsibility for making that dream come true.
How do I go from dreams to medicine to plants... I will discuss the nervous system. So lets discuss herbal sleeping drugs. Sleep is not easily understood. There are many phases we go through when we sleep. It is not as simple as scientists once thought. Everyone goes through stages of REM sleep. REM is rapid eye movement. This is a stage of sleep where dreaming is associated with movements of muscle and the rapid eye movements. This is an active process of the brain. No one should disturb this stage or suppress the dreams. I do know that herbal medicines for sleep do not interfere with abreaction and are not powerful enough to suppress REM. Prescriptions or conventional drugs do interfere with REM. For this reason alone I would prefer to use herbal preparations to induce relaxation at night, thus helping the patient to get ready for sleep.
There are many remedies available. I love meditation and prayer before going to sleep. This alone may induce sleep. How can one induce relaxation? Lying quietly in bed has many recuperative powers. Of course, this is without the Nightly News, David Letterman, the Cooking Channel, or four books on your nightstand. Oh yes without your unfinished stitched canvas, too! Remember the older you get the less sleep you need. I do not understand this, but it has been well researched. The only advice I give to older individuals is to accept the idea of lying in bed awake. I know some individuals of that age group who do not accept this. But this is the process of aging.
When I think of the Nervous System, drugs are grouped into different categories. These are tranquilizers, anti depressants, sedatives, barbiturates and narcotics. The plant kingdom is no different, although it does depend on what book you are reading. At one point I should discuss the narcotic opium. Certainly, not my favorite with the exception of its long historical content, and the fact that Margaret Hamilton (Wicked Witch of the West) places a Poppy Field in the way of Dorothy, The Cowardly Lion and the Scarecow (Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley Sr) during their trip to the Emerald City in the 1939 Classic, The Wizard of Oz.
One plant a day is my new motto. Starting with the sedatives. Valerian, Valeriana officinalis is a sedative. It is a hardy perennial flowering plant with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers. Did you know that Valerian comes from a plant with beautifully scented flowers? The flowers are in bloom in the northern hemisphere from June to September. Its flowers have a pleasant scent,so it was used as a perfume in the sixteenth century.
Native to Europe and parts of Asia, valerian has been introduced into North America. It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species. I think it is beautiful on a warm day to see butterflies grazing the flowers of a garden. This is a serene moment. A moment of clarity. A moment of connection with nature.
Valerian, in pharmacology and phytotherapic medicine, is prepared from roots of the plant, which, after maceration, trituration and dehydration processes, are conveniently packaged, usually into capsules, that may be used for certain effects, including sedation and anxiolytic effect. I prefer Valerian tea or a homepathic remedy that contains Valerian.
All historical aspects of herbs have myths and legends. In medieval Sweden, it was sometimes placed in the wedding clothes of the groom to ward off the "envy" of the elves. Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Many herbs date back to this time period. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia.
If you are already taking a prescription sedative, please consult your health care practitioner before taking any herb.
The photographs are of Valerian, and Woodrow Wilson. Do you remember who Woodrow Wilson was?
He was the 28th President of the United States after Taft and before Harding. His history as President in unique. He served 1913-1921, yet in 1919 he suffered a major cerebrovascular accident (stroke) which was concealed from the public for some time and revealed only after his death in 1924. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919.
Think of song lyrics with DREAM in the title. Listen to these songs.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
"Really being present to the people we care about fills our lives with bliss."
I love this quote. Do you feel blissful when you are present with people you care about? You should be. I wouldn't say I am blissful with every single individual that I care about, especially if the feeling of caring is not mutual. But it is a wonderful feeling to be blissful. It extends the word "grateful". I have much gratitude for all that life has given me.
When you are unhappy in something you are doing, find the best way to stop doing it.
It does change your outlook on life.
"Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel. Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolution: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.
Sephaniah 2:9 (KJV)
So it is indeed nettles that is mentioned in the King James Version of the Bible. It is also mentioned in the New World Testament of the Bible, as well as Revised Standard Version of the Bible according to Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Plants.
I want to discuss nettles for the treatment of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia. I personally have used nettle seeds with wild flower honey for colds and flu-like symptoms, as well as allergies. It has been written that the Italians use stinging nettles and elderberry for herpes zoster (shingles). The Russians use it for constipation, hepatitis and jaundice. The Algerians mix powdered nettles with powdered jasmine for gonorrhea. And the French use nettle root steeped in vinegar for tumors of the feet or spleen and steeped in honey for tumors of the lung. This all sounds like song lyrics from Cole Porter or even Noel Coward.
It is thought that b-sitosterol found in nettle root, saw palmetto and pumpkin seeds reduce prostate size. Nettle root has been extensively studied for mild cases of prostate inflammation. I have used nettle root for prostatitis. Nettle root can be taken in any form. I think it makes an excellent tea if you add wild flower honey. Both French and German studies have concluded that nettle root is an effective treatment for mild prostate inflammation. And right they are!
Stinging nettle or common nettle, Urtica dioica, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and is the best-known member of the nettle genus Urtica. The plant has many stinging hairs on its leaves and stems.
Stinging nettle is a dioecious herbaceous perennial, 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft) tall in the summer and dying down to the ground in winter. It has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow as are the roots. The soft green leaves are 3 to 15 cm (1 to 6 in) long and are borne oppositely on an erect wiry green stem. The leaves have a strongly serrated margin, a cordate base and an acuminate tip with a terminal leaf tooth longer than adjacent laterals. It bears small greenish or brownish numerous flowers in dense axillary inflorescences. The hair of the plant becomes stiff and can cause a sting. This mixture of chemical compounds cause a painful sting or paresthesia from which the species derives its common name, as well as the colloquial names burn nettle, burn weed, burn hazel. The pain and itching from a nettle sting can last from only a few minutes to as long as a week. I have been pricked by a nettle and it hurt for 3 days.
The two common species of nettle are U. dioica subsp. gracilis (Ait.) Selander (American stinging nettle) in North America and U. dioica subsp. holosericea (Nutt.) Thorne (hairy nettle). North America.
Although I am discussing nettles as a treatment for BPH, a clinical trial has shown that the juice is diuretic in patients with congestive heart failure.
Urtication, or flogging with nettles, is the process of deliberately applying stinging nettles to the skin in order to provoke inflammation. An agent thus used is known as a rubefacient (something that causes redness). This is done as a folk remedy for rheumatism, providing temporary relief from pain.I have never used nettles for this purpose. Nettle extracts can be used to treat arthritis, anemia, hay fever, kidney problems, and pain.
Nettle leaf is an herb that has a long tradition of use as an adjuvant remedy in the treatment of arthritis in Germany. Nettle leaf extract contains active compounds that reduce TNF-α and other inflammatory cytokines. Nettle is used in hair shampoos to control dandruff and is said to make hair more glossy. In Ithaca I bought an herbal shampoo that contained nettles.
Fresh nettle is used in folk remedies to stop bleeding because of its high Vitamin K content. Meanwhile, in dry U. dioica, the Vitamin K is practically non-existent and so is used as a blood thinner.
Stinging nettle has a flavor similar to spinach when cooked and is rich in vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. The young leaves are edible and make a very good pot-herb. The leaves are also dried and may then be used to make a tisane, as can also be done with the nettle's flowers.
What is a tisane ? You probably have had a tisane at least once in your life. It is an impressive word. A herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is a herbal infusion made from anything other than the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). Camellia is green tea.
Two nettles photographs and dry nettle tea.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
"What helps US to go forward is that WE stay receptive. Believe that anything can happen."
Do you want to move forward in life? Are you stuck in life? Is life on cruise control? I want to think that everyone wants to move forward in life. I have moved forward not only educationally and in my GOD chosen profession, but more importantly spiritually and emotionally. I do believe that anything can happen if you want it to.
You must balance your life. This is not a new concept. The Buddhist teachings as well as other Eastern philosophies have stressed the need for a balanced life for centuries. Do you have a balanced life? Direct your attention to achieving satisfaction and happiness through prayer and meditation, as well as a conscious awareness of the moment being experienced. There is an intersting Navajo teaching called " horzho". This refers to a balanced approach to work, family, friends and the surrounding environment. It is said and I do believe that individual happiness will be achieved when an appropriate degree of balance is achieved in your daily life.
Those who practice healthcare have high physical and psychological demands on their daily routine. As a healthcare professional, I want to be involved in my family, friends, jobs, hobbies and my community.
From my readings and personal beliefs let me summarize some personal and work strategies:
1. Make time to cultivate relaxation time
2. Daily meditation
3. Find a hobby
4. Participate in sports and exercise
5. Have a sense of humor
6. Eat a healthy lifestyle. Avoid simple sugar
1. Avoid small irritations at the office
2. Avoid aggravating individuals
3. Be efficient at work
4. Understand what is important in your daily work life
5. Set personal boundaries for what you will and will not do at home and work
Yesterday we briefly discussed two herbs for enlarged prostate - saw palmetto and pumpkin seeds
In 2008(Complement Ther Med 2008 June; 16(3) 147-154 ) Saw Palmento (Serenoa repens) was studied for its safety. The authors concluded that there is no evidence that saw palmetto extract at a dose of 160 mg twice a day for 1 year.
Another beenficial herb for BPH is the African Plum.
The Pygeum africanum (African plum) tree is a tall evergreen of the family Rosaceae found in central and southern Africa. Its bark has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Traditional African healers have used the bark to treat bladder and urination disorders, particularly symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate. Historically, the bark was powdered and used to make a tea, which was taken by mouth for these conditions.
The majority of trials conducted since the 1970s report improvements in BPH symptoms including frequency of nighttime urination, urine flow rate, and left over urine volume, with the administration of Pygeum africanum bark extract. This research has led some credibility to the common use of this agent in Europe for BPH. The herb is less commonly used in the United States where prescription drugs or the herb saw palmetto is more commonly used. There is drug herb interaction using this herb with conventional drugs as proscar and advodart.
I have seen Pygeum reduce urinary symptoms. Numerous human studies have not concluded that pygeum reduces prostate size. I feel that saw palmetto is better for reducing prostate size.
I prefer to use Pygeum for initial cases of BPH. I have recommended it to patients who have had prostate surgery. The patients do report beneficial results.
THE TOP PHOTOGRAPH IS THE PYGEUM AFRICUM FLOWER
THE BOTTOM PHOTOGRAPH IS THE PYGEUM AFRICUM LEAVES
I will get a good photograph of the actual plum tree.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
"Physical strength is determined by what we can carry; spiritual strength by what we can bear."
Remember, when one door closes another one opens.
A dear friend of mine is going through a difficult time. All of us have had a least one difficult time in our lives! Loss of a loved one, loss of a job, end of a relationship, various health difficulties--
Reflect on a difficulty: How have I treated this difficulty so far? How have I suffered by my own response and reaction to it? What should I let go of? What has to be accepted? What lesson might I learn from the difficulty? What is the hidden value or positive from this situation? I know that GOD does not put anything in our path that we cannot handle. You must believe in this. You must meditate to allow yourself to get on a higher plane of being.
I love music. I love lyrics to many many songs. I feel every emotion can be heard in a song--happiness, sadness, joy, anger, grief.
There is a song sung by Charles Azanavour called "You Got to Learn" I have also heard the infamous Nina Simone sing these lyrics. Read them and relate. Do NOT relate by comparing the lyrics to your given situation.
YOU GOT TO LEARN
You've got to learn to show a happy face
Although you're full of misery
You mustn't show a trace of sadness
Never look for sympathy
You've got to learn although it's very hard
The way of pocketing your pride
Sometimes face humiliation
While you were burning up inside
Facing reality is often hard to do
When it seems happiness is gone
You've got to learn to hide your tears
And tell your heart life must go on
You've got to learn to leave the table
When love's no longer being served
To show everybody that you're able
To leave without saying a word
You've got to learn to hide your sorrow
And go on living as before
What good is thinking of tomorrow
Who knows what it may have in store
You've got to learn to be much stronger
At times your head must rule your heart
You've got to learn from hard experience
And listen to advice
And sometimes pay the price
And learn to live with a broken heart
In regard to men's health, I do not think I have discussed prostate disease. Many men will be surprised to learn that herbs can help correct prostate enlargement. Also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), this is the most common problem with the prostate. In fact, it is so common that roughly half of North American men between the ages of 40 and 60 are plagued by it. Standard medical opinion points to only two solutions: surgery or hormone therapy, but neither is appealing.
In 2005, an estimated $4.5 billion was spent on prostate surgery in the United States alone. But after about five years most men find, to their dismay, that the surgery needs to be repeated. Hormone therapy, which uses drug treatments to inhibit the hormones testosterone and prolactin, also carries undesirable side effects, including possible impotence.
Before we discuss the helpful herbs, let's first consider the prostate. Do you know where your prostate is? (for those men reading this blog) This small gland, which is located next to the bladder, is made of muscle, gland and connective tissue. The thin fluid that it secretes helps carry sperm down the urethra, the same tube that transports urine from the bladder. Since the urethra passes right through the prostate, when the prostate enlarges, it pinches the tube and causes urine retention. This also creates an urge to urinate more often since the bladder never fully empties. The uncomfortable result can be an inability to void, false starts, dribbling and burning pain.
Since there are usually no symptoms in the early stages, it is easy to understand why so many men let prostate problems go untreated at first. They don't even know something is wrong until the urethra is blocked and the problem can no longer be ignored! The longer we live as men we will develop BPH, and more important develop Prostate Cancer. Today, we are not going to discuss cancer.
The severity of symptoms doesn't necessarily tell you the extent of enlargement, but a doctor's examination will. You need to be examined by a doctor because problems such as an obstruction in the urinary tube, a bacterial infection and bladder or prostate cancer need to be ruled out. Most men are not well-informed about the health of their prostates. Studies show that most men don't have regular physicals and that of those who do, less than half have their prostate checked. It is essential when seeing an internist that he checks the prostate with a digital exam and a PSA (serum prostate specific antigen) blood test. Have the blood drawn before the doctor examines your prostate. A digital exam can sometimes give a falsely elevated PSA due to rectal finger manipulation.
The most common cause of prostate enlargement is changes in hormone levels. As a man ages, his testosterone levels begin to fall. At the same time, his levels of the "female" hormones prolactin, estrogen, LH and FSH rise. This dramatic hormonal shift results in many body changes, such as weight gain, changes in fat distribution and a decrease in muscle strength. Even the testosterone itself changes. An especially potent form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) begins to dominate. Unfortunately, DHT can cause prostate cells to multiply excessively; four to six times the normal amount of DHT is found in most enlarged prostates.
Can environmental pollutants effect the prostate? While DHT increases with age, a number of environmental pollutants (the chemicals dioxin, polyhalogenated biphenyls, and hexachlorobenzene) also make this hormone accumulate in the prostate.
Many herbs have been used to treat BPH. Unfortunately herbs have difficulty finding their way into mainstream medicine. I feel it is unlikely that herbs will ever be used instead of conventional therapies for BPH. It is so important that you be informed of such herbs. Over the next few days I will discuss all of these herbs. I want to discuss briefly two herbs--saw palmetto and pumpkin seeds.
The results of a recent study suggest that the “administrations of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil are clinically safe and may be effective as complementary and alternative medicine treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia.” However, although concomitant treatment with pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil resulted in greater improvement in IPSS, QoL, and PSA levels, it did not result in a statistically significant improvement relative to treatment with either product alone. The mechanism of action of pumpkin seed oil is well known, i.e., it inhibits 5-α-reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Various mechanisms of action have been suggested for saw palmetto oil, including an inhibitory effect on nuclear estrogen receptor, cyclooxygenase, 5-α-reductase, and 5-lipoxygenase. The authors suggest that additional studies be conducted with a larger number of subjects and a longer observation period
I will continue to discuss saw palmetto and other herbs
Top photograph: Nina Simone
Middle photograph : unique photograph of saw palmetto
Bottom photograph: Pumpkin seeds
Wait ... I have great news .. Read the below: A Top Cardiologist Reveals the Best Supplements for Your Heart
A Top Cardiologist Reveals the Best Supplements for Your Heart
Put your hand on your heart. How’s it doing in there? For too many women, the answer is, "Not so good." Despite the fact that we try to eat right, exercise and watch our weight, heart disease is still the number-one killer of women in America.
What are we doing wrong? For one thing, we’re not getting enough of the nutrients that our hearts need to stay healthy. "Much of our food is depleted of life-sustaining vitamins and minerals," explained integrative cardiologist Patrick M. Fratellone, MD. "That’s why many people can benefit from specific supplements -- whether their goal is to prevent heart disease or to minimize harm from the particular cardiovascular risk factors they already have."
Here’s how the various heart-healthy supplements work... and the protocols Dr. Fratellone typically recommends based on patients’ particular risk factors. Important: Check with your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen. Some supplements can interact with other supplements or medications and/or cause side effects for people with certain medical conditions.
HOW THE HEART HELPERS WORK
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the energy generator of all cells, enhances the heart’s pumping ability. Caution: CoQ10 may decrease the effectiveness of blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin.
Folic acid, a B vitamin, helps prevent the formation of homocysteine, an amino acid that damages artery linings. Caution: Avoid folic acid supplementation if you have a history of cancer.
Hawthorn, an herb, may strengthen heart contractions and reduce blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. Caution: Don’t use hawthorn if you have low blood pressure or take a beta-blocker or calcium channel blocker medication.
L-carnitine, an amino acid, increases the heart’s pumping action... and may facilitate weight loss by increasing metabolism. Caution: Don’t use L-carnitine if you have kidney disease.
L-taurine, another amino acid, dilates blood vessels, improves blood flow and helps reduce blood pressure. Caution: L-taurine may not be appropriate if you take diuretic medication or have stomach ulcers.
Magnesium regulates blood pressure and heart rate. Caution: Don’t take magnesium if your blood pressure is already low.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, increase HDL (good) cholesterol... decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides... slow plaque buildup in arteries... reduce the risk for arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat)... and reduce blood pressure.
Vitamin B-12 inhibits harmful homocysteine formation.
Vitamin D-3 helps prevent inflammation... reduces heart attack and stroke risk in people with high blood pressure... and may protect against heart failure.
Next step: To make use of the information above, you need to know which specific nutrients are most beneficial for you -- and that depends on your personal health status.
TO PREVENT HEART PROBLEMS...
Below is Dr. Fratellone’s heart-protecting supplement protocol (to be taken daily, continuing indefinitely) for the typical perimenopausal or postmenopausal woman who has not been diagnosed with any condition that increases cardiovascular risk. Ask your doctor if you should take any or all of these five supplements. If you take a multivitamin, check which of the nutrients below your multi already provides.
CoQ10 -- 100 mg daily.
Magnesium -- 350 mg daily.
Omega-3s (in the form of fish oil) -- 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg daily of combined EPA and DHA, the most beneficial components.
Vitamin B-12 -- 1,000 micrograms (mcg) daily.
Vitamin D-3 -- 1,000 international units (IU) daily.
IF YOU ARE ALREADY AT RISK...
You may benefit from additional protection if you have a condition that increases cardiovascular risk. Dr. Fratellone said that it is generally advisable to continue taking the five supplements above, though in some cases, a higher dosage is appropriate (as detailed below)... and to consider additional supplements (observing the aforementioned cautions), depending on an individual’s particular health problem.
Ask your doctor about modifying your regimen as follows if you have...
Atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmia
Hawthorn (extract ratio 1:2) -- 20 drops mixed with water three times daily.
Magnesium -- increase to 500 mg daily.
Omega-3s -- increase to 1,000 mg three times daily.
Congestive heart failure
Hawthorn (extract ratio 1:2) -- 20 drops mixed with water three times daily.
Vitamin D-3 -- increase to 2,000 IU daily.
Coronary artery disease
Folic acid -- 1,000 mcg daily.
L-carnitine -- 1,000 mg three times daily.
L-taurine -- 500 mg three time daily.
Omega-3s -- increase to 1,000 mg three times daily.
CoQ10 -- increase to 100 mg three times daily.
L-carnitine -- 1,000 mg three times daily.
Magnesium -- increase to 500 mg daily.
Excess weight (body mass index of 25 or higher)
L-carnitine -- 1,000 mg three times daily.
High blood pressure
L-taurine -- 500 mg three times daily.
Magnesium -- increase to 500 mg daily.
Omega-3s -- increase to 1,000 mg three times daily.
Vitamin D-3 -- increase to 2,000 IU daily.
CoQ10 -- increase to 100 mg three times daily.
L-taurine -- 500 mg three times daily.
Omega-3s -- increase to 1,000 mg three times daily.
Folic acid -- 1,000 mcg daily.
CoQ10 -- increase to 100 mg twice daily.
Omega-3s -- increase to 1,000 mg three times daily.
Source: Patrick M. Fratellone, MD, is an integrative cardiologist and executive medical director of Fratellone Medical Associates, and an attending physician at St. Luke’s Hospital, Roosevelt Hospital and Beth Israel Hospital, all in New York City. A former chief of medicine and director of cardiology at the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, he also has hosted the radio show House Calls with Dr. Fratellone on WWRL 1600 and is the coauthor of You’re on the Air with Dr. Fratellone: Answers to Questions Most Frequently Asked About Supplements and Herbs for the Heart (iUniverse). www.FratelloneMedical.com