Natural Alternatives to Decrease Pain

In my previous 2 articles: Pain and Inflammation: Your Body’s Message and Pain: Responding to Your Body’s Call For Help, the focus was on understanding why you experience pain, then responding appropriately based on pain severity and urgency. Natural Alternatives to Decrease Pain focuses on specific therapies for non-urgent types of pain.

Natural Alternatives: Hands On Therapies

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

There are a variety of very effective natural alternative therapies for pain that don’t involve either OTC or prescription drugs. Among these are “hands on” therapies such as:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Chiropractic Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage

Physical Therapy (PT), Chiropractic and massage therapy can be corrective and restorative if the problem is related to such causes as improper body alignment, muscle strain.   Certain types of headaches can even be resolved with hands on therapies!

Physical Therapy

My experience (as both nurse and patient) has been that doctors don’t always think about ordering PT for muscle/joint/back pain issues unless there has been a known injury or surgery.   In these situations, be your own advocate. Ask your healthcare provider whether PT might help your muscle/joint/back pain problems.

Chiropractor

Chiropractor

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors make specific adjustments to realign joints and the spine.

Routine tasks can cause muscle stiffness or abnormal curvatures resulting in pain:

  • Sitting for hours in front of a computer
  • Lying on the sofa
  • Prolonged driving
  • A slip or near fall
  • Repetitive motion
  • Yard work (or “weekend warrior” projects)
  • Carrying heavy objects (even an overloaded purse)
  • Intense gym workouts

Bones out of normal alignment can also cause inflammation, pain and headaches.

Unfortunately, doctors don’t typically refer to chiropractors because this is an area of practice not typically covered in medical school. Nevertheless, Chiropractic care is a valuable treatment option covered by insurance and Medicare. (Check your specific policy for coverage details)

Acupuncture

Acupuncture

Acupuncture

Acupuncture focuses on the flow of chi energy, (similar to electricity) that carries the life force of the individual. These energy channels or pathways were mapped thousands of years ago, before Western medicine.

For health, this energy flow much be consistent, balanced and uninterrupted.

Acupuncture therapy has been practiced in China some 4,000 years. Research has shown that acupuncture may be helpful for relief of chronic pain.

Acupuncturists (whether physician or non-physician providers) are licensed professionals and typically have extensive training.

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

The most common types of massage therapy in the United States are:

Swedish

Aromatherapy

Hot Stone

Deep Tissue

Shiatsu

*Aromatherapy massage utilizes essential oils and helps especially with:

  • Headache
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Back pain
  • Stress and stress-related conditions (e.g. insomnia)

Each essential oil has specific properties.   The massage therapist may choose a specific essential oil based on your specific problem areas.

To learn more about decreasing pain and inflammation naturally, read:

 

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

Digestive Health

Your doctor refers you to a gastroenterologist who performs a colonoscopy and finds no problems. Good news, right? But you’re still having digestive problems. Next you have an endoscopy and still no problems are found. Even better news! From “end to end” you have passed the scope tests with flying colors. So why are you still having problems with digestion? Some say beauty is only skin deep. By the same token, digestive health goes much deeper than the camera of a scope.  You may have a problem mainstream physicians know little about called dysbiosis or “leaky gut.”

Villi are the finger-like projections inside our gut that absorb nutrients from the food we eat.

Villi are the finger-like projections inside our gut that absorb nutrients from the food we eat.

Our Environment

We don’t live in a sterile environment….in fact far from it.   Good bacteria actually promote digestive health and a healthy immune system.  Although the very first stool a newborn baby passes  is sterile (and has no odor), the baby’s intestinal tract starts being colonized with the abundance of bacteria (aka. “germs”) from the baby’s environment.  As the baby grows and develops, it puts everything it can get in its tiny little hands into its mouth.   A baby crawls on the floor where people walk, bringing even more bacteria from the world into its environment.   Those same tiny hands that have picked up bacteria tracked indoors also go into the baby’s mouth.   It literally makes us want to cringe when we actually give it some thought.

Good Bacteria, Bad Bacteria

The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms and outnumber human cells by 10 to 1. Researchers are discovering the links between an individual’s intestinal bacteria and the body’s immune system health.  This environment of bacteria hosted by our bodies is known as the microbiome.  Over the span of decades, you’ve probably taken antibiotics a multitude of times, beginning in childhood. Unfortunately the same antibiotics that kill bad bacteria, also kill essential good bacteria that makes its home in your intestinal tract.

So the key question becomes: Do you have the “guts” to be healthy? An estimated 80% of your body’s total immune system is located in your gut, making digestive health critical in fighting off illness. Most of the mainstream physicians I know say they are unfamiliar with the diagnosis of “dysbiosis” or “leaky gut” yet digestive health is critical in maintaining a healthy immune system.

For those of you who desire to lose weight, but continue to struggle, you should know that digestive health also impacts your ability to lose weight. Your digestive tract helps break down foods and absorb vital nutrients.  No matter how much good food you eat, if your body can’t break it down and use it for energy, the body will continue to be fatigued and sluggish, thinking it is  starving (because it is!)   The body perceives that the energy stores are deleted and so it craves even more food for fuel. Unfortunately, it usually craves the simple sugars for quick energy and your weight loss efforts are sabotaged.

A Personal Journey with Digestive Health

Over 2 years ago, I eliminated gluten from my diet and actually had to relearn to cook. Out of necessity, I learned (often through trial and error) to adapt many of our family’s favorite recipes to the gluten free version by using blends of flours including coconut and almond flours.   I felt much better and the bloating was eliminated. I also found I wasn’t craving many of the foods I once thought I couldn’t live without. Still, going gluten free didn’t restore my digestive health and I found myself experiencing heartburn on a daily basis.  I developed an ice cream habit. Almost every day after work, I wanted a cold, frosty confection to soothe my burning stomach.   It only made the problem worse.   The next “fix” was antacids, but that solved nothing in terms of digestive health.

After a lengthy search and many disappointments, I found an internal medicine doctor who focuses on anti-aging/functional medicine.  Knowing the battle I have with my weight, she said “I don’t want you to even step on the scales until you come to my office.  You’re not going to lose weight until we fix your gut.”   I had experienced decades of being brow beaten by all those doctors who wanted to prescribe diet pills or (more) weight loss surgery.  Finally, I found a doctor who would listen and work with me.  Most had simply hounded me over counting calories and getting more exercise, implying that I was lying about my dietary intake and was spending my life lying on a sofa in front of a TV eating bon-bons!

A Success Story Begins

Since going dairy free and beginning intense probiotics my heartburn is completely gone.   I have learned to substitute goat’s milk, butter, yogurt and cheeses. Not bad. However, healing is a process and I intend to pay the price to restore digestive health and improve my body’s immune function.  My next huge challenge has been to eliminate sugar to help rid my body of an overgrowth of yeast. (If your tongue looks gray/white or coated, you may have yeast overgrowth throughout your digestive tract.)   Sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) is in most everything we consume.   This was certainly not the diets of our ancestors! As a result of these changes, I have more energy and I am optimistic that good things are happening as I commit to give my body what it needs and protect it from what is harmful.  The good news?  I am down 10 pound within the first month and have much more energy.

What about you? Do you have similar struggles? What are you doing to heal and restore your digestive health?  I’d love to hear your comments.   If you’d like to learn more about current research on the topic of microbiomes, follow this link:  Microbiome Program at Mayo Clinic.

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

Sunburn Prevention 101

 

Did you remember to apply  your sunscreen?

Did you remember to apply your sunscreen?

Everybody knows last winter was brutal. The sun goddesses have now emerged in full force exposing bare, unprotected skin.   There is an urgency to rush tans in time for summer vacations and swimsuits.  A rushed tan means too much sun exposure, too quickly.

I just had the joy of spending a day with my 7-year old granddaughter.   I asked her what she wanted to do.

“Mamaw, let’s go to the swimming pool.” She urged.  “It’s a lot of fun.”

She didn’t need to convince me. We found her swimsuit, grabbed the sunscreen and a beach towel and away we went.

Once at the pool, I diligently applied sunscreen to that fair-skinned, blue-eyed little darling. In the course of the 2 hours we were at the pool, I reapplied sunscreen about 3 more times. This grandma definitely did not want to neglect her skin and let her get burned.

I hadn’t planned for a trip to the pool, so I didn’t pack a bathing suit.   As I sat under an poolside umbrella wearing a booney hat and sunglasses, bodies were tanning and scorching all around me.   One body was that of a near-term expectant mother, her belly bared to the sun.

Poolside was adorned with bathing beauties of all shapes, sizes, skin colors and ages. In their rush to get in the water, it was evident Sunburn Prevention 101 was not a priority with many of them.

Some came to the pool with evidence of tanning from many years of sun worship. Others were recently burned and back for another day in the sun. (Nurses don’t miss much when it comes to skin!)

One lady, roughly in her 60’s was already glowing red with a sunburn. She seemed not to notice. At one point, I walked over, commenting that I had noticed her sunburn.   My plan was to offer her some sunscreen before she blistered. She replied “Some things you worry about and some you don’t. I don’t worry about anything.”

“So be it.” I thought to myself as I walked away. Some people are destined to disregard Sunburn Prevention 101 and will suffer later.

Some are fortunate to have darkly pigmented skin with some natural protection.  A multitude of toddlers wearing swimmies were baring skin that had never seen the summer sun. I couldn’t help wondering how many of those fair-skinned little darlings would end up burned as a result.   It is very hard for a nurse whose specialty is skin care to take off her nurse “hat” when skin damage is happening all around.

My grandmother, father, brother and I (all fair-skinned and blue-eyed) have had basal cell skin cancer.   We grew up in an era when people put oil on themselves and never had a thought of sunscreen. We paid the price for the ignorance of our youth.   Thankfully my daughter learned from our family history. My son, who spends most of his time outdoors, still gets the motherly reminders about Sunburn Prevention  101. (Yes, sometimes I even nag!)

While my granddaughter splashed and played, I kept her in sight while visiting with old friends.   Periodically I had her come out so I could reapply sunscreen and have a poolside snack.

Do you know the rules of safe sun exposure?  Check your knowledge.

Remember these Sunburn Prevention  101 tips and don’t ruin your summer activities with sunburn. The damage caused by sunburn may not be realized for years afterward.

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #1

Use sunscreen SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to exposure. Read the labels and apply/reapply it properly. Check expirations dates! No sunscreen protects you completely. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. It is only water resistant. You may need extra protection near the eye areas while swimming because you tend to rub the eye areas frequently to remove water.

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #2

Slip on a shirt or pants. The more skin you cover, the less it’s exposed to harmful sun rays. Dark colors provide more protection than light colors. Tightly woven fabric provides more protection; sheer fabrics allow UV rays to pass through. Some fabrics have light colored, lightweight, and provide UV protection.

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #3

Wear a hat with at least a 2 – 3” brim. Some hats are made with UV protection. Shield your neck and ears too.

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #4

Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Large frames and wraparound styles protect best. Children need smaller sunglasses with UV protection too!

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #5

Children can burn easily. Cover skin, apply/reapply sunscreen periodically and limit exposure during the high intensity hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunburn Prevention 101 Tip #6

Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #7

You can get sunburned on an overcast, cloudy day! The same tips apply!

Sunburn Prevention  101 Tip #8

Certain medications make you more likely to get sunburned:

  • Antibiotics (Tetracyclines, Sulfa drugs, Antidepressants
  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) e.g. Advil, Motrin (Ibuprofen), Celebrex
  • Diuretics (water or fluid pills)

You might also want to read:  Treating Sunburn

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

On a humorous note, I would advise against the Hannah and Kaylee method of self-tanning!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

Pain and Inflammation: Your Body’s Message

At some point in your life, you’re going to experience pain. Maybe you’re already there and it’s something you struggle with every single day. Chronic pain is a symptom of a bigger problem. This article addresses pain and inflammation: Your body’s message.   The purpose is to increase your understanding of the pain and inflammation messages your body is sending and learn how you can help.

Important Note: I am not writing about severe, sudden onset, acute pain, such as chest pain, abdominal pain or injury-related pain. Nor am I writing about pain accompanied by numbness or weakness. These are true medical emergencies that require prompt attention and intervention by your health care provider.

When your body talks to you with a pain message, do you listen?

When your body talks to you with a pain message, do you listen?

The Automobile Analogy

If your family automobile developed an unusual clink, noise or grind, which would you do?

  • Crank up the radio loud enough to drown out the noise
  • With the proper knowledge and tools, repair it yourself and save some money
  • Find a trustworthy mechanic who won’t take your wallet to the cleaners
  • Ignore the problem until your automobile experiences a costly break down, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere
  • Get upset because of the inconvenience (even want to kick it?)
  • Repair it, whatever the cost, then commit to preventative maintenance

Automobiles can’t fix themselves but the human body has an amazing capacity to heal if you make the effort to eliminate problems early rather than continually make yourself numb with painkillers.

What Pain Really Means

Be glad your body is talking to you! It’s telling you the troops are engaged in combat and need reinforcements. Seriously though, pain is caused by inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s own combat team (immune system) defending you against foreign invaders (like bacteria) and its way of repairing damage.  You might notice redness, heat, swelling, or pain in a particular region of your body.

When your own troops are fighting to defend you and are calling for help, do you send help or do you gag and silence them?

Pain Relievers Silence the Message

When you consistently choose over the counter (OTC) pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, it is the equivalent of pressing the “mute” button (silencing the troops) and ignoring the message. You may be muting the message, but the message isn’t going away. Inflammation that caused the pain never actually got fixed because you silenced the alarm.

Keep ignoring your body’s pain message and the troops will eventually grow weary fighting the battle alone.  Eventually your troops will lose the battle unless you listen and respond. The “breakdown” will occur unless you become a good listener to your own body’s pain messages. The timing will be inconvenient and the repair (if even possible) will be costly.

The Problem With Conventional “Remedies”

Every time you choose OTC pain medications, you are adding chemicals your body must break down and detoxify either through your liver (acetaminophen) or filter through your kidneys (ibuprofen).  If you move beyond OTC pain medications to stronger narcotics, your problem just got bigger.

It’s interesting that the Greek translation of the word narcotic actually means to make numb or cause stupor (lethargy, daze, insensibility). I doubt this is the way you want to experience your life!

Sooner or later, the same narcotics that silenced the pain message, no longer work and you require more and stronger ones to keep the pain message silent. (Addiction becomes a whole new problem.)

Over a period of time, as with chronic pain, this continual bombardment with chemicals only stresses your body further, possibly causing more harm.

In summary, you are losing the battle when you continually silence the messenger and are not addressing your body’s call for help.

Be sure to read:  

Pain:  Responding to Your Body’s Call For Help

A Nurse’s Perspective on Pain

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

A Natural Repellent for Black Flies

This article (thanks to my Appalachian Trail section hiking son) is a follow up to Ticked Off: Repelling Ticks Naturally (which I recommend you read first). Black flies are small enough to pass through window screens or come indoors on or in your hair. According to University of Florida Entomology and Nematology, “DEET” formulations are not very effective. In fact individuals wearing “DEET” may even have more black flies attracted to them than individuals not wearing “DEET.” Permethrin products cannot be applied to the skin. This article focuses on a non-chemical natural repellent for black flies that can be applied directly on the skin.

Black fly feasting on a human

Black fly feasting on a human

Flies on the landscape

Flies in the air

Flies in your whiskers

Flies in your hair.

Flies up your nostrils

Flies down your neck

Flies on your eardrums

Flies by the peck.

THE PROBLEM

Black flies are such a hateful and insidious problem for trail hikers, wilderness adventurers, and fishermen a lamenting song was even written about them!

Black fly bites

Black fly bites

Who wants to be a human feast for blood-sucking female black flies? From about the middle of May to as late as July, black flies can make being outdoors miserable, especially in the Midwest, Northeast, Florida and Canada. Black flies tend to swarm the faces of their prey, attracted to the exhaled carbon dioxide from breathing.  Their bites are painful, itchy, slow to heal and in some cases cause severe allergic reactions (and even death). Bite reactions include headache, nausea, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING

Unfortunately, black flies are small enough to pass through window screen or come indoors on or in your hair. Their preference is to bite you outdoors during the daytime.

They are attracted to dark colors, so light-colored clothing such as khaki, tan or white is best. A long sleeve shirt, long pants and fine over-the-head screen netting helps prevent feeding, but what will repel them on the areas they manage to find exposed?

NATURAL REPELLENT

My son Shad on his recent 131-mile hike from New York to Connecticut.

My son Shad on his recent 131-mile hike from New York to Connecticut.

My son is a section hiker on the Appalachian Trail and recently completed a 131-mile hike with 2 of his backpacking companions, crossing from New York into Connecticut. Because he was venturing into the epicenter of Lyme’s Disease, I wanted to make sure he was protected so I prepared a blend of essential oils based on my own research. My review of the literature focused on natural alternatives to chemical repellents that were effective against ticks.

My son is brutally honest and I knew he would not sugar coat the truth when giving me an unbiased field-testing report. I mailed his blend (dubbed Baker’s Blend 131 in honor of the mileage he covered on this trip) to the motel where he stopped to pick up trail supplies he had shipped to himself in advance.

This is what he reported: Prior to using Blend 131, he had been pulling off 7-8 ticks daily despite treating his clothing with permethrin. Not only did the ticks not bother him, but a totally unexpected benefit was that Blend 131 was a natural repellent for black flies also! The swarms of black flies he encountered wouldn’t even touch him, much less bite him. I honestly believe he was more excited over the fact that Blend 131 repelled black flies than ticks!

CONCLUSION

My original purpose as a mother (and a nurse) was to eliminate the chemicals (and the side effects they cause) and to provide some natural protection for my son against ticks and Lyme’s Disease. I am extremely pleased that my vigilance paid off and a natural alternative was effective.   I am even more pleased (and surprised) that my essential oils blend worked to repel black flies as well!

In my original article Ticked Off: Repelling Ticks Naturally, I mentioned the essential oils I used in my blend. I posted links to where those essential oils are available and why it is important to buy the most potent grade essential oils. However, it only takes a few drops of each of those essential oils listed if you only plan to use the oils as a natural repellent. (Example: A 15 ml bottle of each of the oils contains 250 drops)

Among he oils I used in my original Blend 131 are rose geranium, lavender, cedar wood. have since extended my research to repelling black flies. (A good product can be made even better.) I am adding a new oil and an additional ingredient to potentiate the repellent activity of the essential oils and increase the protection time.

If you don’t want to buy multiple bottles of essential oils and are only interested in purchasing the premade Baker’s Blend 131 (enhanced for black fly protection), please complete the contact form below, and I’ll be in touch.

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition, Uncategorized by with 1 comment.

Moringa Oleifera Nutrition

Moringa Oleifera Tree also known as the "drumstick" tree.

Moringa Oleifera Tree
also known as the “drumstick” tree.

Moringa Oleifera is referred to a “the miracle tree.” Unlike the supplements found in your typical super store vitamin aisle, Moringa Oleifera nutrition is completely absorbable and plant-based.  Moringa Oleifera contains over 90 verifiable, cell-ready vitamins, minerals and amino acids as well as 36 anti-inflammatories and 46 anti-oxidants (which fight cancer).

When I began using Moringa Oleifera in November 2012, I had been taking anti-depressants for 12 years and was in constant daily pain from arthritis.  I typically bought ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the largest bottles I could find available because I alternated between these 2 over-the-counter pain relievers every single day.

 

All this nutrition packed into a single plant:  Moringa Oleifera

All this nutrition packed into a single plant: Moringa Oleifera

A nurse/coworker introduced me to the health benefits of Moringa Oleifera because I was constantly drinking coffee at work just for the stimulation of the caffeine to keep me moving.  My coworker had had positive benefits from taking Moringa Oleifera (this was a real person I knew personally and not some paid actor or actress giving a phony product endorsement).  I trusted her enough to give Moringa Oleifera a try. At first, I had no idea what personal health benefits I would experience but I was encouraged to give my body the nutrition it really needed and allow it to heal itself.

As a Registered Nurse, I know that healing takes time. Nothing happens overnight. Every 120 days your body is making completely new red blood cells based on the overall health of your body at the time those new cells are made. With that in mind, I knew I would need to give my body at least 3-4 months to experience the positive benefits of Moringa Oleifera on my own natural path to health.

Those who take Moringa Oleifera nutrition experience health benefits based on their consistency of use. Results come from giving your body the nutrition it lacks and needs.  What I experienced after about of month of daily use surprised me.  I realized that I was no longer reaching for ibuprofen and acetaminophen on a daily basis because I was no longer in pain!  Eventually I threw the remainder of my over-the-counter pain medications away. It had been so long since I needed them that their shelf life eventually expired.

Despite taking anti-depressants for 12 years, before Moringa Oleifera, I still battled feelings of depression. My doctor wanted to increase the dosage and add additional drugs. Instead, I resisted and made my own informed decision (using Hippocrates’ philosophy) to let my food be my medicine. Within 3 months I was completely off antidepressants (with my doctor’s approval).  I did not stop anti-depressants suddenly.  My doctor and I worked on tapering the dose over a period of weeks.  (Always, always get your doctor’s opinion and guidance before making a decision to change or discontinue a prescribed medication.)

I no longer have the dark clouds of doom sailing over my head on an otherwise sunny day. It has been 2 years, (February 2014) since I totally came off antidepressants and I have never felt better.

This is my true testimony of the health benefits I experienced from Moringa Oleifera. Every body is different. Because it is natural and plant-based, your body absorbs Moringa Oleifera, within 15 – 20 minutes after you drink it. (It is not a pill or capsule; it comes in a packet that mixes in a 20 oz. glass of water.) What will having the plant-based nutrition your body needs do for you? I’d love to hear your stories after you try it!

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with 2 comments.

Insomnia: Traditional, Conservative & Natural Treatment Alternatives

Lights out. Zzzzzz or just another night of insomnia?

Lights out. Zzzzzz or just another night of insomnia?

Is it lights out for another night of insomnia? Are you exhausted but your brain just won’t go into sleep mode? If you’ve had insomnia at least for at least one month (primary insomnia), you’re not alone, America.

 The last time I went to see my doctor, I got exactly 5 minutes of his time as he was backing out the door to see his next patient holding his laptop computer in his hands. Doctors are pushed by insurance companies to see huge volumes of 30 or more patients a day.   No matter how great that doctor is, they are going to miss something during this very abbreviated assessment. Most of us go see our doctors for one or more reasons. It’s likely you’ll get your chief complaint addressed, but not much more.

 

So with that thought in mind, let’s say your complaint is that you can’t sleep.  Given your provider’s allotted time, do you think they will take the time to sit down with you and explore possible causes and offer possible solutions or will they write a prescription for

If you told your doctor you had insomnia, would you be offered a prescription for sleeping pills or alternatives for natural sleep?

If you told your doctor you had insomnia, would you be offered a prescription for sleeping pills or alternatives for natural sleep?

sleeping pills? I believe you know the answer. You may have a bottle on your nightstand already. I hope you don’t, but if so, your problem just got bigger because sleeping pills are habit forming.

Possible Causes of Insomnia

  • Stress: It’s normal to have your brain in overdrive the night before starting a new job, the first day of school or a major life changes.   Travel, time zone changes and work schedules can also disrupt normal sleep. Adults (and even children) are so involved in a variety of commitments outside of home that downtime is not budgeted into the day’s schedule. It’s becoming more and more common for people to problem solve while their heads are lying on a pillow rather than getting the precious sleep their bodies require to stay healthy. That’s only one of a variety of reasons why sleep alludes so many.
  • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol: Some possible habit-related causes of poor sleep quality are consumption of caffeinated tea, coffee or cola later in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine is a stimulant; therefore it keeps your body revved up when it should be relaxing and preparing for sleep.
  • Poor sleep habits: Watching TV in bed, working on your notebook or laptop computer in bed or viewing social media on your smart phone in bed are also ways your brain stays engaged rather than preparing for sleep.
  • Sleep Apnea: If your partner (or you) snores, wakes frequently throughout the night, kicks in their sleep abruptly waking themselves up, wakes up after dreaming they’re falling or wakes up feeling more tired than when they went to bed, there’s a good chance they may have a chronic condition known as sleep apnea. It is extremely important to report these things to your health care provider to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment because there are major complications associated with people who have untreated sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea means you have actual pauses in breathing or shallow breaths. The body’s oxygen supply drops to below normal levels during that time. The good news is that effective treatment doesn’t have to involve medication or surgery.   It may only require the use of a C-pap or Bi-pap device that blows a gentle amount of air through your nose to keep your airway open.  (Watch for a future article on Sleep Apnea)
  • Other medical conditions: Chronic pain, respiratory problems, restless leg syndrome, and need to urinate frequently can also interfere with sleep.   (Subscribe or comment if you’d like to be notified of a future article on chronic pain.)
  • Medications: Medications to treat heart conditions, high blood pressure (beta blockers), asthma (e.g. Prednisone, Theophylline), depression (e.g. Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil), ADHD, and some drugs used to treat thyroid conditions also cause insomnia. Pain relievers such as Excedrin, Anacin and Motrin Complete all contain caffeine. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) e.g. Zocor have been reported to cause both insomnia and nightmares. Cold and allergies medications (antihistamines) are well known for their negative impact on sleep.
  • Sleep environment:   Consider how much time you spend in bed and invest in a good mattress. If your mattress is too soft or too firm or sags in the middle, you should consider replacement. Choose a pillow that is comfortable and based on whether you typically sleep on your back or your side. Eliminate the noise or use a device that makes white noise. If that isn’t possible, use earplugs designed to eliminate the noise. It is best to sleep in a room that is dark, but consider the safety aspect of using nightlights. If you work night shift and sleep during the day, use room-darkening shades to simulate nighttime sleep.

    Complications of insomnia

    Complications of insomnia

 

Complementary Options to improve sleep:

Complementary approaches to treating insomnia are found in the National Institute of Health (NIH) research.   Tart cherry juice concentrate has been shown beneficial to increase melatonin levels and improve disturbed sleep .

Lavender essential oil, has a variety of uses including treatment of insomnia. It can either be applied to the soles of the feet at bedtime or used in aromatherapy and was shown to have a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression. In addition, for cold and allergy sufferers, lavender is a natural antihistamine.

Wishing you restful, restorative sleep,

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

NOTE:  I highly recommend getting only the most potent essential oils.  In order to be considered 100% pure, the bottle only has to contain 10% of the actual oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

Ticked off: Repelling Ticks Naturally

Crossing the line from NJ to NY.  Past the halfway mark to completion of the Appalachian Trail.

Crossing the line from NJ to NY. Past the halfway mark to completion of the Appalachian Trail.

My son Shad is an avid hiker of Pine Mountain Trail and the Appalachian Trail. He began hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was a freshman in college and has now section-hiked from Georgia all the way to New York State. This spring he and several veteran hikers will be crossing into Connecticut as he is determined to complete the entire AT before he retires. On this hike, he will be traveling into a region with one of the highest incidences of Lyme disease and has searched to find a non-toxic alternative to harsh chemicals that may repel ticks, but also cause adverse reactions. Ticked off:  Repelling Ticks Naturally was written for and inspired by my son.

As warmer weather brings us out to enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and the great outdoors, with every brush with nature we expose ourselves to hungry blood-sucking ticks that have been active and waiting for the opportunity to feast on us and spread bacterial diseases.

Both the blacklegged "deer" tick & the western blacklegged tick transmit Lyme disease

Both the blacklegged “deer” tick & the western blacklegged tick transmit Lyme disease

Ticks come in many different varieties and are abundant across the U.S.  Lyme Disease was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975 and is listed as a reportable disease to the Centers for Disease Control.  CDC reports 300,000 people a year are treated for Lyme disease, yet only about 30,000 are actually reported. The highest incidences of Lyme disease in the U.S. in 2012 (the latest statistics published) were in the following States:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont

It takes about 36 hours from the time a tick becomes attached to the body to transmit Lyme disease to their unsuspecting host. One visible tale-tale sign of Lyme disease is a distinctive “bulls eye” rash at the site of the bite which can become very large.  It is important to note that this rash does not occur in up to 40-50% of those who actually have Lyme disease.

A distinctive rash at the site of the tick bite associated with Lyme disease.

A distinctive rash at the site of the tick bite associated with Lyme disease.

Chemical Repellents:   The synthetic

Permethrin is a synthetic chemical belonging to the family of synthetic chemicals called pyrethroids and is used as an insecticide and insect repellent. Pyrethroids are similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrum (plants of the genus Chrysanthemum). This natural insecticide is made from the dried flower heads. The dried flowers are actually crushed, the active components (pyrethrins) removed, and applied as a powder or mixed as a suspension with water or oil in a pyrethrum spray.

Chemical companies often extract from the natural components and mix them with the synthetic to “enhance” potency just as they do with prescription drugs. Permethrin then, is not the natural, but the synthetic chemical. It is listed as a “restricted use” substance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to its toxicity to aquatic life. It is also highly toxic to cats.

Essential Oils:  The Natural Repellents

There are a variety of natural “recipes” for insect repellents and different insects are repelled by different essential oils.  Therefore a more effective repellent will depend on which insects you want to repel. If your goal is repelling ticks naturally, you might try this recipe.

Rose geranium essential oil is the most frequently cited essential oil for use as a tick repellent.

Tick Repellant

  • 10 drops of rose geranium essential oil
  • 6 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops of Cedarwood
  • 1 cup water (I use distilled) if applying via a spray nozzle

OR

  • 1 cup of carrier oil (e.g. fractionated coconut oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil or light olive oil for sensitive skin) if applying topically without a spray nozzle.

Note:  Cedar wood is yet another essential oil that can be added to the natural recipe for repelling ticks. Known for promoting healthy skin and clear breathing, Cedar wood has a warm, woody, balsamic fragrance that relaxes the mind and body.  Perfect for hikers and  those who love being outdoors.

Directions: Mix essential oils together in a spray bottle and apply as needed. Rub or spray the natural repellent onto skin or clothing, using care to avoid the sensitive eye areas. Reapply periodically throughout the length of the exposure. Store unused natural repellent is a dark bottle away from heat or direct sunlight.

Other important studies

A study published in the 2007 issue of “Parasitology Research” shows that a 10 percent solution of Origanum minutiflorum (Oregano oil) killed all ticks within 120 minutes.

Note: Oregano is a “hot” oil

A study published in the 2007 issue “Journal of Economic Entomology” shows that Alaskan yellow cedar (a wood-based oil) is the best at killing tick nymphs; eastern red cedar is best at killing larval ticks; and incense cedar from juniper trees is best at killing all ticks.

Skin and Clothing

To avoid becoming a human smorgasbord for ticks, be sure to dress in a long sleeved shirt and long pants when you’re in areas with lots of ticks. You can pretreat your clothing by applying drops of the natural essential oils repellents also.

Be sure to inspect your clothing and skin frequently when you’re outdoors and when you come back indoors. Ticks can cling to clothing initially; don’t give them time to attach to bare skin, your scalp or skin crevices. (Parents, inspect your children!) The chances of getting Lyme disease are reduced if the tick is removed within the first 24 hours.   After tick removal, apply an antimicrobial blend   To repel ticks naturally, be sure to take your natural essential oil repellents with you when you go hiking or spend time outdoors.

Not all essential oils are created equally!  Make sure the essential oils you use are tested for purity and potency.

To find out how this blend of essential oils actually worked when field-tested on the Appalachian Trail between New York and Connecticut in May 2014 read my follow up article:

A Natural Repellent for Black Flies

If you enjoyed this article, watch for my upcoming article

“Lyme Disease:  The Culprits and the Natural Alternative Treatment”

Here’s to your natural, drug-free good health,

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com  


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

Combat Holiday Weight Gain

 

Are even your fat pants too tight?  Don't despair!

Are even your fat pants too tight? Don’t despair!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year the same cycle continues….holiday weight gain!  Every year the culprits are the same:  too many concentrated sweets.  It is such a cycle in fact, that a “game” similar to “Pass the Hot Potato” ensues after the holidays are over.  I’ve dubbed it a game of Confectionery Chess with the object of the “game” to get the left over sweet confections out of your home ASAP without falling prey to those pushed on you by others bringing them in to your workplace.  The only jump you have coming is to eliminate the sweets before the Checkmate (you go up a whole pants size). It’s time you learned how to effectively combat holiday weight gain.

You have to understand how this works.  The holidays upon us, women everywhere began to bake around mid-December.  Cookie, cakes and pies and an untold gazillion pounds of candy were all made under the guise of making and preserving great holiday memories.   We saw confectionery photos on Facebook, Pinterest, All Recipes….you name it….and naturally we all wanted to try those great recipes.

But the days of reckoning have arrived and everyone who fell prey to those sweet confections is now digging out their fat pants and praying they still fit.   Thank God for spandex!   

The holidays are over, yet the abundance of temptation fills plastic containers and tins on kitchen counter tops everywhere.  Every time you walk by, you raise the lid.  Yep! It’s still in there and it smells just as good as it did the last time you lifted the lid.

Go ahead and blame your mother.  After all, she was the first person you saw insisting people take these treats home when they left her house from the holidays.  The tradition continues as we “share the joy” (or the sin) much as Eve first “shared” that darn apple in the Garden of Eden. 

And so I have dubbed this the annual game of Confectionery Chess.  I bring some to you to get rid of it so it doesn’t tempt me and you likewise take it in to your workplace to “share” with your co-workers.  We move it around and around with the logic that “I work with a bunch of skinny people who can afford the extra calories” or “he works out a lot and he can burn it off quicker than I can.”  Who exactly are we kidding and why do we repeat this maddening cycle year after year?  Yes, those pants really DO make your butt look big, but it’s not the pants’ fault…..they are just praying the stitching doesn’t break at the seams while you’re lying across your bed trying to get the zipper to zip.  Yes, I’ve been there too!

I’m betting many of you have vowed to start your diet “just as soon as all these sweets are gone.”  Seriously?  You don’t want to throw it out…..is that your logic? After all, it was a lot of hard work and cost you a lot of time to make.  I’m still listening to my own flawed logic.  Guilty!  So it’s time to get serious and really combat holiday weight gain.

Many of us have participated in destructive behavior.  Let’s be adults and own our own guilt.  It’s time to move on and quit compounding the damage bite after bite and sharing the caloric poison.  Let’s quit setting snares for our friends and family by enticing them to participate in our poor dietary decisions.  We’ll likely be begging one or more of them to be our gym buddy soon.  Why wait until the New Year? 

Be a real friend to yourself, your family or your co-workers. Get up now, go to your own kitchen, open those containers and DUMP IT IN THE TRASH where it belongs.  Throw dirty kitty litter on it if your willpower is weak.   No looking back.  What’s done is done.  Time to throw off the baggage of the past and move forward for a healthier 2014. 

[I leave you with a point to ponder:   if you eat a pound of candy, will you only gain a pound or do you just need 3500 excess calories to gain a pound? You do the scientific calculations.]

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

If you liked this article and are interested in burning fat, increase energy level and losing weight, you might also like to read:  XMBurn:  Burn Fat, Cut Food Cravings  To shop for these products, visit my Moringa Oleifera Store

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition and tagged , , , by with no comments yet.

Night Time Leg Spasms: Natural Solutions

Knee and hamstring injury

It was 8 years ago when the strange onset of night time leg cramps first began to occur.  I was on vacation in Arizona when a series of severe leg cramps that I eventually realized were spasms caused me to jump to the floor abruptly from a sound sleep.  I couldn’t walk it off, I couldn’t stretch it out because it was in the mid to upper thigh region of my leg.  If you’re searching for natural solutions for night time leg spasms, this is my personal story of what worked for me.

The Agony of Night Time Leg Spasms

Finally, while in a standing position, I extended the affected leg onto the mattress and leaned in to stretch my inner thigh region.  I lingered there in that stretched position panting in agony for what seemed like at least 2 – 3 minutes.  Every time I thought the wave of painful muscle contractions had ended and returned to standing and started to walk, they would seize me again with such severity that I could hardly breathe.

Finally I could empathize with those basketball players I had seen writhing on the court while a huddle of people surrounded them for what seemed like an eternity before they stood to their feet and limped to the sidelines.  So that is why they’re always drinking those electrolyte beverages at athletic events!

Exploring the Cause(s) of Night Time Leg Spasms

When that first episode finally ended, I began to do a mental review to try and determine whether I was dehydrated, had the wrong shoes, or had just been on my feet too long.  I remember concluding after a mental inventory of preceding events that surely it had been just an electrolyte imbalance.  In addition to adding extra fluids, I substituted coconut water once I discovered that coconut water contains about 600 milligrams of potassium per cup compared to 362 milligrams for a medium banana.

I began to ask myself key questions such as what I could possibly have done to cause this sudden onset of the leg spasms from hell.  (Yes, they really are a personal hell if you suffer with them.)  My activity level had not changed. I even began to dread going to bed for fear of being awakened with more night time leg spasms.

When my lab results to assess for electrolyte imbalances were normal, my family physician had no definitive answers.  I began doing my own research.  I ran across many excellent articles such as  this article from Cleveland Clinic.

I found an article on the 8 different types of prescription drugs that can cause leg cramps but fortunately I was on none of those medications.   Furthermore I wasn’t interested in trying to solve a problem by adding yet another prescription drug that would have its own set of side effects and cause even more problems.

I considered adjusting my sitting and sleeping posture.  For days after a particularly severe leg spasm, I was aware of a knot in the location of the spasm.  I enlisted the services of a massage therapist specializing in deep tissue massage to help address the knots in my muscles afterward.  I did stretches.  I tried to find the best way to stretch the inner thigh muscles quickly in the event of reoccurrence of leg spasms.

Little did I know that those painful spasms would become even more frequent and (on several occasions) so intense and unrelenting that I would actually consider asking my daughter to drive me to the emergency room.

The low point was the night I got severe spasms in BOTH inner, upper thighs at the same time.   I’m certain I used some profanity that night as I was pressing and grinding my knuckles into the most intensely painful areas in an attempt to release the spasms.

So far the fluids, coconut water, and massage had not eradicated the night time leg spasms.  There were no medications responsible; I wanted answers and I wanted the spasms to just STOP and never return. At the time I was averaging one night time leg spasm every week (and sometimes more often).

Supplements

I added a highly absorbable magnesium supplement, taking 200 mg. twice daily (every morning and at bedtime), which measurably reduced the frequency and severity of the leg spasms to about once a month.  My goal however, was to have zero leg spasms.  I added a sustained release potassium tablet (99 mg.) once daily at bedtime.  My doctor didn’t agree. He was concerned I was going to create an imbalance that would affect my heart’s natural rhythm. Regardless, he offered no other simple solution to end the agony, nor was he as vested in researching it.

My lab values had been normal, yet I was clearly showing signs of calcium deficiency. I stopped the magnesium and potassium and started taking 1000 mg. daily of calcium. I am happy to report that the problem has gradually resolved.   Clearly lab values don’t always give the total picture of what’s going on in your body. What our bodies need in terms of supplementation (and in what amounts) is very specific to the individual.

Recognizing Trigger Points

However, my best discovery in addressing the leg spasms before they occur started with recognition of intense spots producing the major sources of the tenderness Those spots are known as “trigger points.”

Athletes who do weight training have likely experienced trigger points in various regions of their bodies.  Trigger point massage devices are a worthwhile investment because you can reach your own trigger points and do your own massage.  (I own the Back Buddy but Thera Cane is an excellent choice as well.)

Once I located the trigger points on each of my inner thighs, I applied massage lotion and began to massage with my trigger point massage device.  Initially there was such an intense burning sensation and discomfort with massage of the trigger points that I found myself holding my breath during the massage.

The key is to massage through the discomfort until the trigger point releases.  Believe me, you will know when this happens and the benefits will be worth the moments of discomfort.  Every evening before I go to bed, I did targeted trigger point massage.   After several days of targeted trigger point massage, the burning and tenderness finally subsided.  It took a couple of weeks of focused massage to finally release a small knot at one trigger point area.

Meanwhile I have added a variety of leg stretching to my regimen every night before I go to bed.  It has now been several months since I have experienced a night time leg spasm.  The last ones I had were very short duration and the pain was mild compared to the agony in the beginning.

Concluding Thoughts

Let me be clear, these measures were a gallant attempt to find natural solutions and end my own suffering from night time leg spasms.  This was a very successful, drug-free, all natural approach. I am not offering medical advice or recommending this as something my readers should do for the same problem.  As a nurse, I must tell you to consult your family physician for guidance for all medical concerns.

What a journey this has been!  On a personal level, it was worth the research and I hope you find this blog to contain useful information that will help you as well.  My sleep has never been better.

Other Sources of Supplementation

Ounce per ounce, Moringa leaves contain far higher amounts of calcium than most plants, and 4 times the amount of calcium found in milk. Moringa Oleifera also has 90 verifiable nutrients, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories, Omegas 3, 6 & 9 as well as 20 amino acids (9 of which are essential), is 100% absorbable. Moringa Oleigera is the most nutrient dense plant on Earth.  For more information, visit my Moringa Nutrition Store.

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

How Do Red Blood Cells Impact Health and Performance?

Are you trying to build your house with junk materials?  Are you a junk food junkie who eats processed foods and 2-3 meals a day from a drive-thru restaurant?  Maybe you’re the person who carefully tries to eat whole, organic, unprocessed foods and avoid preservatives, GMOs and chemical additives.  Perhaps you’re a athlete, runner or body builder.  Some of you may be struggling with some real health challenges such as chronic illness or disease, making intake of proper nutrition a real challenge.

RED BLOOD CELLSWhoever you are, red blood cells are vital to your body and perform a critical function.  A single drop of blood contains millions of red blood cells, which are constantly traveling through your body delivering oxygen and removing waste.  If they weren’t, your body would slowly die.

Red blood cells are red only because they contain a protein chemical called hemoglobin which is bright red in color.  Hemoglobin contains the element Iron, making it an excellent vehicle for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide.  As blood passes through the lungs, oxygen molecules attach to the hemoglobin.  As the blood passes through the body’s tissue, the hemoglobin releases the oxygen to the cells.  The empty hemoglobin molecules then bond with the tissue’s carbon dioxide or other waste gases, transporting it away.

Over time, the red blood cells get worn out and eventually die.  The average life of a red blood cell is 120 days.  Your bones are continually producing new blood cells, replenishing your supply.  The blood itself, however, is re-circulated throughout your body, not being remade all of the time.

NEW red blood cells being created based on your overall health and nutritional status at the time they were being formed in your bone marrow.  Building a healthy body is a process!   Once you begin giving your body the nutrition is needs, it begins generating healthy new red blood cells.  In the absence of disease, 120 days or so from today, your body will be circulating those all new healthy red blood cells.  So you see, you really “are what you eat.”  

We hear that over and over in books and news articles that Americans are overfed and undernourished. There are many documentaries that depict our broken food chain and the decline in nutrients in our food due to over farming methods depleting the minerals that were once in our soil.  Obesity is prevalent even among teens.  The problem of obesity continue to soar, yet those trying to lose those extra pounds are sabotaged by their own cravings for more.

Why do we have so many food cravings?  Because our bodies are searching for nutrients we’re not getting from the foods we’re eating.  Imagine eating something to satisfy your hunger then shortly thereafter wanting something else…..and something else….and something else.   Your body didn’t get what it needed for “fuel” in that “pseudo-food” you ate.  That imaginary “switch” inside your brain never registered the tank full of fuel.  So the brain keeps sending the same message “I need fuel!”  And so you eat, and perhaps you feel stuffed, but you’re tired, lack the energy or even the mental clarity for peak performance. Peak performance requires the right fuel.  Building and rebuilding or repairing your body requires healthy red blood cells.

What whole food or plant have you read about that contains over 90 verifiable nutrients, 46 anti-oxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories, Omegas 3, 6 & 9, 20 amino acids (9 of which are essential and cannot be made by the body)?   The most nutrient dense plant on Earth got little recognition until Moringa Oleifera was featured on a Discovery Channel documentary.   Moringa Oleifera is referred to as “The Miracle Tree.”

The story begins with one man viewing that same Discovery Channel documentary on a plant grown in far away lands. As he watched, his interest piqued when he observed people literally being sustained by consuming small amounts of this miracle plant.  That video sparked his interest and he wondered why that plant was not being used.  He enlisted a team of Scientists to formulate a plant-based liquid nutritional that is 100% bio-available and absorbable within 15 minutes of drinking it.

Ken Brailsford had created two other Legacy companies, one in the 70′s and one in the 80′s. Both companies are still in business today.  The company that brought Moringa Oleifera to the world in 2006 was ZIJA INTERNATIONAL.  ZIJA is “The Moringa Company.”

For more information:

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN@PamBakerRN.com

Http://naturalpathtohealth.myzija.com

 

 

Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

“The Weakest MRSA+ Germ Can Jump 10 Feet”

hand washing  MRSA

 

Now that I have your attention, NO, that is not correct information!  Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) is otherwise no laughing matter.  MRSA doesn’t “jump” but it definitely does get spread around by unwashed hands

When I recently overheard this misinformation in a comment from one of my patients to another, I broke down in laughter.   MRSA germs can actually live on surfaces for weeks to months.  So the next time you touch such items as the handle of a gas pump, a microwave handle, door knob, computer keyboard, telephone receiver, elevator button, menu in a restaurant, hand rail, gym equipment, Free Weights  MRSA articlemagazine (or even shared toys) in a waiting room, think about where you are putting your hands after touching them. 

 MRSA is the bacteria commonly known to cause boils.  If you’ve ever had it, I promise you won’t forget it.  It can be transmitted by improperly disinfected equipment such as nail implements (even in your doctor or podiatrist’s office).   For this reason, I am not a proponent for cold sterilization of nail implements.  I do however support autoclaving for high temperature sterilization of reused medical instruments.  nail implements

Over my past 18 years in specialty practice in wound care, I have seen more and more patients presenting with reoccurring, symptomatic wound infection,  requiring oral and intravenous antibiotics.  Antibiotic resistance has become a major problem in health care and we now have bacterial resistance to our most broad spectrum antibiotics.  Because of these ongoing problems with antibiotic resistance, I support the use of isolation gowns (& gloves of course) with every wound dressing change.  By the time you actually receive your patient’s wound culture results, your clothing has already come in contact with their skin and clothing and MRSA has begun it’s journey of spreading from patient to patient and possibly to you and your family  as well.

And what about the nose or nares?  MRSA often loves to set up base camp inside your nose.  How does it get there?  Unwashed hands!  Longer fingernails Manicure MRSA  or chipped nail polish becomes a place for MRSA to hide because the bacteria is often missed by haphazard hand washing attempts.

If I were the patient, I would be very proactive about my health.  I would not dream of having a surgical procedure (& especially orthopedic/joint replacement surgery) without first having my health care provider do nasal swab cultures to determine whether my nares were colonized with MRSA.  When you think about the prevalence, suffering and cost of post op surgical site infections, it is well worth the extra precaution to screen (and to treat if necessary) prior to any planned surgery.

 The very best way you can protect yourself is good handwashing, keeping your nails short and well groomed, your polish unchipped, and do not share personal items with other people.

For more information, visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website.

 

Pam Baker, RN

pambakerrn@pambakerrn.com

 

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

Sack Race-Rookie-Triathlete-Marathoner: Run Your Race Like a Winner

Shawna, Pam, & Shelley after Thoroughbred Classic on Thanksgiving DayAre races only for athletes? Who is the REAL winner in an, Ironman Triathlon, Marathon, a 10K or   5K run? Is the lone athlete who crosses the finish line first and takes home the trophy the only winner or do those who endure the miles and complete the race against the obstacles also win?  What a change in perspective I have experienced over the years!  Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NASB) says:  “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.”

Until the late 1990’s, I had never worn racing numbers on my shirt.  Entering a race wasn’t even in my frame of reference.   I was not gifted with athletic ability, in fact just the opposite.  However, I was blessed with determination, endurance, and a great deal of just plain stubbornness in vowing not be let my temporarily setbacks turn into failures.  I was inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s story about training and running her first Marathon, but this blog is not about me achieving a 26.2 (which I actually fantasized about after I read Oprah’s story.)  Rather what I write was inspired by what I learned about myself during the pursuit of fitness and the camaraderie of veteran athletes.

After nearly 10 months of working with a personal trainer who stressed the importance of diet, good choices and sound nutrition, my body slowly started to respond after years of neglect.  I learned from my trainer that a great work ethic of consistent, intense cardio and weight training had a critical impact on peak performance at any level of fitness.   As I began to look for fitness challenges outside of the gym environment, the posters began showing up for registration for Lexington’s annual July 4th Bluegrass 10,000  race.   While I knew I wasn’t physically in shape to actually run, I had made such wonderful friends at the gym who were running that I decided to enter the race as a walker.  My daughter (& gym buddy) and I entered, along with many of our gym friends.   I mentioned that I was considering the race only casually to my trainer, who probably never imagined I was serious.  Who on Earth does a 10K before they ever do a 5K?  My daughter and I!  We began asking for the advice of a seasoned Boston Marathon runner (our spinning class instructor) regarding what we should eat and drink the day and evening before the “race.”

 So here we were on the dawn of race morning with our brand new anti-blister socks (a rookie mistake).   As the crowds gathered in, the excitement escalated and the adrenaline kicked in, I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to do this!  The runners gathered in; the fastest and most competitive were at the front of the pack.   They pressed in all around me and I could feel my heart racing before the real race even started.   Here I was, an asthmatic carrying 80 extra pounds at the age of 48 and running on knees that were 23 degrees out of proper alignment (valgus deformity), but nonetheless determined that I was going to finish this race no matter what.

 The loud bang signaling the opening of the race exploded over the bustle of the crowd and the real runners—like thoroughbred horses out of the starting gate–charged out ahead of the pack.  Runners waved to crews of our local TV stations as they filmed the opening of the race from an overpass on Main Street.  As long as I live I will never forget what that felt like!  I can feel the emotion surge even as I write about that memory of my very first race.

In the beginning, I was hindered by the crowd, yet walking at a very brisk pace, weaving in and out to pass those moving slower, while the faster runners were weaving around me.   Runners pushing children in strollers were passing me up.  I remember feeling both annoyed and insulted.  As the initial wave of runners had gone, the crowds thinned and there was a little more room to breathe.   Spectators were lined up on either side of the streets cheering and clapping as we passed by.  I was caught up in the momentum of those who were actually running, which in turn caused me to move at a pace faster than this body was trained to move.  My heart was pounding, I became short of breath, almost gasping as I began to perspire profusely.  We hadn’t even made our first turn off Main Street!

 At that moment, my mind scrolled back to the memory of Field Day on the last day of school when I was in 4th grade.  It was the very first race I ever ran.  I was always the chubby kid who was chosen last when teams were being chosen.    On that day, kids were teaming up in pairs to do a sack race on the playground.  I was the next one up to run.  I had no desire to face the defeat I expected was sure to occur.

After much coaching by the Nuns at the Catholic School where I attended, I relented and stepped into that big burlap sack.  The bell sounded and the race started.  I was easily left behind until my worthy opponent, trying to jump faster than the sack would allow, stumbled and fell.  I caught up.  The crowds yelled louder.  The Nuns cheered and called out my name “Come on, Pam!  Keep going!”  I pushed harder.  My heart raced and pounded harder.  I could feel my face getting hotter and hotter.  My opponent passed me again….and oops!  Down he fell again!  This time I wasn’t very far from the finish line.   The crowd got even louder!  This time it was more than the Nuns yelling, it was also my classmates cheering “Come on, Pam!  You’re almost there!”   I was still jumping, but this time my heart was beating so fast, it felt like it was going to explode in my chest.  I was feeling faint and for the first time in my life, I actually listened to my body. I think I would probably have collapsed if I had continued at that pace trying to run ahead of my own physical ability.

 At that moment, I did something that had haunted me throughout my life.  I stopped.  I took myself out of the race.  I threw in the grade school version of the proverbial towel.  No one defeated me that day, I simply quit and allowed my opponent to win.   I listened to my own body with great remorse and feelings of guilt.  Still I learned some valuable lessons from that experience:  Don’t try to race ahead of your own ability and never, ever just quit.   This applies to all areas of life.   My opponent likewise taught me a lesson.  Keep getting back up when you get knocked off your feet in life.  Eventually you will reap a reward if you simply do not quit.

 After mentally returning to the present moment, I began to I listen to my body.   I continued to keep up my own steady pace and learned to control my breathing.  I was focused on not exceeding my own limitations so as not to trigger an asthma attack.  By the time I passed the first mile marker of the race, I was aware of blisters forming on my feet.  I could feel them enlarging with every passing step.   My pace slowed even more.  My daughter, who had been ahead of me all along the course began to slow and even began talking to me over her shoulder.   Sure enough, she also had developed blisters.  At some point in that 6.2 mile race, it became apparent to me that I just needed to overcome the memory of that sack race of long ago and F-I-N-I-S-H my own race at my own pace.

 I passed a wave of applauding spectators.  What wonderful encouragement!  I was grateful to those volunteers who stepped out along the race route and offered runners cups of water.  I was conflicted as those runners in front of me drank, then threw those cups on the asphalt as they ran on in total disregard of the mess they were leaving for someone else to clean up.  Litterers!  I thought as I approached the debris of all those carelessly tossed empty cups.  Then I too momentarily relinquished my opposition to littering and became one of them (at least for race day).  J

 The route looped around and I met those inbound runners on the opposite site of the route who were already on the return leg of the race course.  We cheered and applauded and encouraged each other as we passed.  You have to actually be part of something to experience that feeling.  You have to be a participator.  No spectator could ever know how it feels to be running a race together, even though each runner ultimately runs his/her own race.

 I continued to feel those blisters getting larger and larger as the miles passed.  I remembered the day I took myself out of that sack race, but I was not going to allow a few blisters to defeat me this time!  I was determined to cross that finish line if I had to crawl across.  By the 5th mile, my daughter and I had arrived at the same conclusion.  Our goals were to simply finish what we’d started and we were going to do it together.

 Our friends who were the experienced Marathon runners had, by this time long since crossed the finish line, rested briefly and stood there watching and waiting on us to come into view.   Something amazing happened that day that I never knew happened with runners.  Two of our Marathon-running “angels” ran out to meet us; one ran on either side as our “Wing Men.”  At that last exhausting home stretch to the finish line, they appeared.  They had literally run their race but then came to run alongside my daughter and I to encourage us as we struggled through the very half mile of our race.   In my exhaustion, I choked up with emotion but I didn’t have the breath to spare for conversation.

 FINALLY I could see the finish line in sight!  People were cheering louder and louder as the route bottlenecked down to a single lane and each runner’s number was recorded with their official finish time.  There were a multitude of high 5’s and sweaty hugs that followed.  I didn’t need a trophy.  I had overcome a childhood defeat in exchange for a victory that day.  My “trophies” were two large blood-filled blisters the size of half dollars on the balls of both feet and I showed them off with pride.  No Marathon runner at that race could ever remember seeing or having blisters that large.  There was some degree of satisfaction in that odd superlative as I observed their grimacing faces.  Lucky me!  I was both starter and  F-I-N-I-S-H-E-R that day.   What an Independence Day to remember!

***

Energy is key to peak performance at any age or level of fitness.  Striving and achieving one major fitness goal inspires us to reach still higher.  None of this can be achieved without proper nutrition.  REAL NUTRITION.   I remember my own recovery time after that first big race.  Remember there’s a good deal of tearing down after an athletic event.  Sometimes there are minor injuries with ensuing inflammation that limit mobility and the resumption of training. How would it help you meet your training goals if you could shorten your recovery time after an intense workout, decrease inflammation and have the energy to begin rebuilding toward your next fitness goals sooner?  Many well known athletes have learned they can achieve that competitive fitness edge through plant-based, 100% absorbable and bio-available nutrition. Getting the right nutrition on a consistent basis can be life changing.  It was for me.  To learn more, visit my website link below.

 Pam Baker, RN

Http://naturalpathtohealth.myzija.com

Email:  pambakerrn@pambakerrn.com

 The same year at the Thoroughbred 5K on Thanksgiving Day.  I am #242; our friend Shelley is #473 and my daughter is #241.  We RAN all the way! 🙂

 Shawna, Pam, & Shelley after Thoroughbred Classic on Thanksgiving Day
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like to read:  
The Spirit That Never Quits


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

A Nurse’s Perspective on Pain

For this nurse, pain has no value unless it prompts you to take action.

For this nurse, pain has no value unless it prompts you to take action.

I have provided direct care for many patients in pain over the course of my 28 years as a Registered Nurse.  I have seen those patients who were in acute pain from trauma, child birth, post operative pain, chronic pain such as from wounds/leg ulcers, back pain, an old injury, fibromyalgia, arthritis and the pain of terminal illness.  I have taken care of those who have taken so many narcotics that they’ve developed a tolerance and pain medication no longer seems to be effective.   This is a nurse’s perspective on pain.

The Faces of Pain

I have observed how people react to pain.  Some have  low tolerance for pain (who could bear little) while others have high tolerance (who were the silent soldiers).  I have observed the stoic faces of those “silent soldiers” who I knew must be in pain, but who would ask for nothing.  I have observed the grimaces, the groans, the shrieks, and even the agony of those suffering from acute pain.

Causes of Pain

What causes most pain?  Inflammation! What causes the inflammation?

Refer to my articles:

Personal Experience With Pain

Let me be very clear that both from a nursing perspective and a very personal perspective, I know about pain.  I have experienced intense post operative pain, the pain of trauma, procedural pain, childbirth and the chronic pain of arthritis. I have at times been that same “silent soldier” who just didn’t talk about the pain that wouldn’t go away.  Instead I continued to traipse up and down those long hospital corridors working 12 hour shifts, helping others while I was in pain myself.

I am actually thankful that I have firsthand knowledge of pain because I was never slow to respond to my patient’s needs because of it.  In fact, I have advocated for my patients to some doctors who had deaf or calloused ears on behalf of their patients whose pain was not being adequately addressed.

As for me, I have bought both acetaminophen and ibuprofen in 100-200+ count bottles.  Often, I would take 800 mg. of ibuprofen several times a day and still be experiencing pain.  Pain would keep me awake at night.  When the alarm sounded in the morning, I dreaded to step my feet on the floor because I knew the pain was only going to get worse throughout the day.  I would mentally ask myself this question:  Do  I want to harm my liver with acetaminophen or harm my kidneys with ibuprofen?  So I would alternate between the two and still never be comfortable.

Narcotic pain relievers for chronic pain weren’t even an option.  Nobody needs a nurse whose judgment may be impaired.  There’s always the issue of developing a high tolerance to narcotics, requiring more and more to achieve the same level of relief.  I have known too many nurses who lost their licenses over mismanagement of narcotics and vowed I would never go down that dead-end road.

Does Pain Have Value?

Does pain have value?  My answer would be yes….but only if it prompts you to take action.  So what value does pain have for me?  Absolutely none!  Pain is not an old familiar friend I hesitate to part with; instead pain was a hindrance to me living life to its fullest. Yes, you just read the words correctly; I just referred to pain in the past tense! J

Decrease the Inflammation, Decrease the Pain

In late November, 2011, another friend (also a nurse) recognized my need and shared information about a natural product, Moringa Oleifera, that has changed my life.  For the first time since I was a child, I know what it is like to live my life pain-free!  The discarded all the remaining ibuprofen and acetaminophen from my own medicine cabinet.  They expired because I didn’t need them anymore!

Now I begin (and end) every single day with 36 all natural plant-based anti-inflammatories that don’t harm either my liver or my kidneys— made from Moringa Oleifera.  For me, pain has no value and was definitely not my friend—it prevented me from living “life unlimited.”  Is pain limiting your ability to enjoy life? J

This was my personal experience.  Nothing I share on this website is an attempt to diagnose, treat, give medical advice or take the place of your own health care provider.  Moringa Oleifera is a nutritional product that contains 36 all natural anti-inflammatories.  You might also life to read:  Nutrition:  Moringa Oleifera

Check out  MORINGA OLEIFERA NUTRITIONALS

I sincerely hope you’re living your life pain-free.

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

A Critical Organ for Weight Loss and Health

 

Detoxify naturally with Zija's Premium Tea

Detoxify naturally with Zija’s Premium Tea

The liver has well over 500 functions and is known as the laboratory of the human body. The liver is tied to all bodily processes because it is responsible for filtration of all incoming foods and fluids. The body relies upon the liver to remove toxins so that nutrients supplied to the body are pure and capable of providing nourishment. Many scientists believe the liver is connected to, or at least aware, of every disease or dysfunction that is happening inside the body.   Consequently the liver is a critical organ for weight loss and health.  Below are some of the major well known functions of the liver:

  • Metabolizes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, thus providing energy and nutrients
  • Stores vitamins, minerals, and sugars
  • Filters the blood and helps remove harmful chemicals and bacteria
  • Creates bile which breaks down fats
  • Helps to assimilate and store fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K)
  • Stores extra blood that can be quickly released when needed
  • Creates serum proteins that maintain fluid balance and act as carriers
  • Helps maintain electrolyte and water balance
  • Creates immune substances such as gamma globulin
  • Breaks down and eliminates excess hormones
  • Vascular (blood management)
  • Provides blood clotting factors
  • Breaks down ammonia (and other toxins) created in the colon by bacteria; thus preventing death
  • Helps to maintain blood pressure
  • Constructs cholesterol and estrogen, reconstructs hormones
  • Humanizes nutrients, metabolizes protein, carbohydrates, fat for energy
  • Synthesizes urea, constructs blood protein, interconverts amino acids
  • Constructs 50,000 systems of enzymes to govern metabolic activity throughout the body
  •  Removes damaged red blood cells
  • Converts the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) into it more active form triiodothyronine (T3). Inadequate conversion may lead to hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, weight gain, poor memory and other debilitating conditions.
  • Creates GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor) from chromium, niacin and possibly glutathione. GTF is needed for the hormone insulin to properly regulate blood-sugar levels. Manufactures bile salts which emulsify fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K for proper absorption. The liver also removes some fat-soluble toxins from the body.
  •  Activates B vitamins into their biologically active coenzyme forms. Virtually every nutrient must be biotransformed by the liver into its proper biochemical form before the nutrient can be stored, transported or used in cellular metabolism.
  • Stores various nutrients, especially A, D, B-12 and iron for release as needed.
  •  Manufactures carnitine from lysine and other nutrients. Carnitine is the only known bionutrient which can escort fats into the mitochondria where they are used to generate ATP energy. The mitochondria generate 90% of the ATP energy at the cellular level.
  • Converts lactic acid from a toxic waste to an important storage fuel. Lactic acid is produced when glucose is metabolized through the energy production cycle. When excessive levels accumulate, you experience sore muscles. A healthy liver will extract lactic acid from the bloodstream and convert it into the reserve endurance fuel, glycogen.
  • Serves as the main glucose buffer, preventing high or low extremes of blood sugar. The liver is the key regulator of blood sugar between meals due to its manufacture, storage, and release of glycogen, the starch form of glucose. When blood sugar is low, a healthy liver converts stored glycogen into glucose, releasing it into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is high, a healthy liver will convert the excess into stored glycogen or fat.
  • Chief regulator of protein metabolism. The liver converts different amino acids into each other as needed.
  • Produces cholesterol and converts it into the various forms needed for blood transport.
  •  Converts essential fatty acids such as GLA, EPA, and DHA into the lipoprotein forms necessary to allow transport via the bloodstream to the 50 trillion cells requiring fatty acids.
  • Main poison-detoxifying organ in the body. The liver must break down every substance toxic to the body including metabolic wastes, insecticide and pesticide residues, drugs, alcohol, etc. Failure of this function will usually cause death in 12 to 24 hours.
  •  Removes ammonia, a toxic by-product of animal protein metabolism, from the body.
  • Breaks down hormones after they have served their function. i.e., if the liver does not break down insulin fast enough, hypoglycemia results because the circulating insulin continues to lower blood sugar.
  • The liver is vital to a host of other metabolic functions, but this brief overview should serve to illustrate the central role the liver plays in maintaining good health and the importance of implementing life-style change if necessary.

This is just the start of an extremely long list of liver functions. It is still uncertain exactly how many functions the liver is responsible for, but currently the list exceeds at least 500 different functions.

Have you ever been trying-to-lose-weight and been stuck-at-a-plateau or a “set point” in your weight loss that you just couldn’t seem to get below?  It is this kind of discouragement that causes many people to abandon their weight-management efforts.   Perhaps now you have a better understanding of why the liver is a critical organ for weight loss and health.  It actually makes sense that the liver needs to be detoxified.

How complex is it to begin to support and detoxify your liver?  It is as simple as drinking a cup of Zija’s Premium Tea 3 or more times a week! 

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

 

 

 


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.