Tag Archives: Health

If You Ever Have to Give Up Caffeine, Plus, Plus

catnip and catYep. Caffeine withdrawal is as bad as I’ve heard it was. I looked up the symptoms and have experienced them all. And I wasn’t as heavily into caffeine as many are, had already foregone coffee. Nothing helps the headaches except cold compresses on the forehead. And then there’s the nausea, fatigue (floating in and out of consciousness), inability to concentrate, muscle aches…Why, you may ask, have I put myself through this hell? Because, it means I get to live. Between severe gluten intolerance and worsening bladder irritation (plus frequent infections), I’m having to make extreme dietary adjustments. A sad place to find yourself is on the Celiac website forum with the hard-hit bladder people saying, ‘Great. More dietary restrictions,’ as they ask which supplements, aids, and foods are also gluten-free. I’ve spent a lot of time lately researching what is and isn’t good for bladder health and found a lot of helpful information on the Interstitial Cystitis network at: http://www.ic-network.com/

teaWhat have I learned? Don’t let yourself get into this state before taking decisive steps. Dietary restrictions vary from person to person, but the absolute worst bladder offenders are caffeine (in any way, shape, or form), chocolate, tomato products, carbonated beverages, sugar substitutes, (*sugar in general should be limited as it’s an irritant and not good for us, as we all know) vinegar (and it’s in a lot of stuff), anything acidic, including many fruits (all citrus). Spicy food is out, preservatives and MSG (ought to be out anyway) and say goodbye to alcoholic beverages (with a few possible exceptions). If you suffer as I do, cranberries will send you into horrific spasms. The cranberry treatment we hear so much about isn’t meant for people like me. I’m taking marshmallow root extract capsules several times a day now. I already knew it was soothing, but became convinced it was a go after all the testimony on the forum, (I may try the tea). And the doctor approved. He put me on Macrodantin–it’s done wonders for my sister, so we shall see. I hope to regain my ability to function, which has deteriorated abysmally over the fall and especially winter. I want to garden again. Most vegetables are great for whatever ails you, though not all. For the complete list of dietary recommendations for bladder health visit this IC network link. I downloaded their pdf file.

parsley (2)Fun times. Fortunately, most herbs are on the good list. And I’m finding our wonderful fresh farm milk quite soothing. For a special hot beverage, I heat a cup of milk and add a pinch of sugar and a little pure vanilla extract. It helps take the place of that ‘gotta sip something hot’ craving. Peppermint and chamomile tea are also fine. I can tolerate Twinings decaffeinated Earl Grey in moderation. My greatest challenge is my dependence on green tea to fight chronic leukemia. I’ve stuck to it religiously because I’ve seen amazing results, but green tea has caffeine, is acidic, and is giving me fits. So, I looked up decaffeinated green tea extract in capsule form and found one at Amazon that has gotten raves. Among the reviews are one from a person with chronic leukemia who says their doctor advised them to take this supplement for their condition and it worked. So I’m going to do the same and pray I can tolerate the capsules and not lose ground. Perhaps, in time, I can add some of the green tea back into my diet again. I’ve hung onto my olive leaf extract, also an immune booster and an aid for blood levels, and it doesn’t bother me. I get mine strictly from Olivus because of the high quality.

_ferny path, ferny trail through woodsToday is better than yesterday, and the day before that, or I wouldn’t be writing this. I hope tomorrow will see even more improvement. I’m doing my best to find the healing path amid all these challenges.  A terrific quote I came across on the IC forum. “God gives us only what we can handle. Apparently God thinks I’m a bad-ass” ~Author Unknown 

And so say all of us.


If Cats Ran the World There Would Be More Naps–Beth Trissel

A good thing, too, less cranky people starting fights and going to war.  Think how much kinder and gentler society would be if we all took naps. I’ve been sick this week with my third winter/spring cycle of a tummy bug.  It wipes me out, so I’ve had a lot of snoozes–often with my kitties. Thus my subject.

kitty pavel

“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”  ~Carrie Snow

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”  ~Irish Proverb

catnip and cat“May sleep envelop you as a bed sheet floating gently down, tickling your skin and removing every worry.  Reminding you to consider only this moment.”  ~Jeb Dickerson, www.howtomatter.com

“People who snore always fall asleep first.”  ~Author Unknown (Very true as I can attest)

“I count it as a certainty that in paradise, everyone naps.”  ~Tom Hodgkinson

“I’m not asleep… but that doesn’t mean I’m awake.”  ~Author Unknown

The Best Advice My Therapist Ever Gave Me–Beth Trissel

Years ago, as a depressed young woman battling anxiety, I went–against my will but under strong advisement–to see a psychologist. Filling out the ‘why are you here’ form unsettled me with questions  like, ‘Do You Think You’re Christ?’ Or ‘Do You Hear Voices Telling you To Kill People?’

No! Does anyone else? I glanced around apprehensively at the other patients in the waiting room wondering, but not daring to ask, ‘What are you in for?’ And zipped past the closed-door where rumor had it they performed exorcisms on route to my therapist’s office, fearful I might catch something–or someone–and thinking I should have worn garlic around my neck and clutched a Crucifix.

Not to worry. As it turned out, my sessions were with a kind older woman who served herbal tea and simply spoke with me.  A wise, motherly soul. Apart from the treks down memory lane and repeated urging to  take care of myself physically and soothe the inner child, the single most important thing I gleaned was this nugget of wisdom: ‘Find what it is you most want to do and give yourself  permission to do it.’

Wow. Powerful stuff. Would you believe that’s what gave me the courage to throw myself into my writing? It all began as therapy and in many ways, still is. Which is why I’ll always write as I feel led, by dreams, spirit guides, my ancestors speaking to me, Divine inspiration, and whatever calls to my heart. I will not and never have gone after what’s popular in the current publishing world.  To sell out in that regard would be to betray the muse. And I’d wind up back at the therapist’s office.

More tea, anyone? Oh, and she advises naps. And eat your vegetables.

Sleep or the Lack of it–Quotes and Witty Commentary–Beth Trissel

No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.  ~Carrie Snow
*This is so true. The world would be a far better place if everyone took a nap.
“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.”  ~JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002
*Amen to that.
“Early to rise and early to bed
Makes a man healthy and wealthy and dead.”
~James Thurber, Fables for Our Times, 1940
*Gotta love Thurber.
“And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”
~D.H. Lawrence
*Beautifully said, D.H.
“There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.”  ~Author Unknown
*Or barking dogs.
However, cats are great nappers. Kitty Pavel snoozing in a sunbeam.
“Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet’s, pee on your owner.” – Gary Smith
*But, of course! Most sensible creatures.
“Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience – unless they are still up.”  ~Ellen Goodman
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” ~E. Joseph Cossman
*Ah, the wisdom in this.
“Many things – such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly – are done worst when we try hardest to do them.”  ~C.S. Lewis
*I love CS Lewis!~
“Dawn:  When men of reason go to bed.” ~Ambrose Bierce
*That would not be me.
“There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.”  ~Edward Lucas
*I’m sure of this, even though I rarely drink any.
“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”  ~Leo J. Burke
*And to that I add, or a new puppy. My daughter’s soft-coated Wheaton Terrier, Grady, in a calmer mode as a pup. Normally these dogs act like they’ve been shot out of guns much of the time for the first two years. But very loving!
“Consciousness:  that annoying time between naps.”  ~Author Unknown
*Clearly a big napper. Cheers!
“The days are cold, the nights are long,
The North wind sings a doleful song;
Then hush again upon my breast;
All merry things are now at rest,
Save thee, my pretty love!”
~Dorothy Wordsworth, “The Cottager to Her Infant”
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  ~Irish Proverb
Ah, the wisdom of the Irish.
“A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting.”  ~Terri Guillemets
*Granddaughter Emma Rose as a baby snoozing alongside our pom poo Sadie Sue.
“There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness.” ~Charles Dickens
*I totally agree with this, get some of my best writing done then.
“What hath night to do with sleep?”  ~John Milton
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”  ~Anthony Burgess
*Or get prodded a lot if you’re my hubby.
Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.  ~Author Unknown
Coffee, anyone?
“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…” ~William Wordsworth, “To Sleep”
***Because he’s not a cat. Pavel in pic again. Kitty Images by daughter Elise.
If a man had as many ideas during the day as he does when he has insomnia, he’d make a fortune.  ~Griff Niblack
“People who snore always fall asleep first.” ~Author Unknown
***Oh yes. Every time.
“When I want to go to sleep, I must first get a whole menagerie of voices to shut up. You wouldn’t believe what a racket they make in my room.”~Karl Kraus, translated from German by Harry Zohn
*Actually, I would. They’re in my head too.  Noisy bunch. And weird. Say the craziest stuff.
“Sometimes I sit up late with my thoughts, reluctant to fall asleep and leave my thoughts alone by themselves.”  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com
*Me too. Niece Cailin and Pavel napping together.
“How do people go to sleep?  I’m afraid I’ve lost the knack.  I might try busting myself smartly over the temple with the night-light.  I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.”  ~Dorothy Parker
*I loved this one! Love her.
“O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.”
~Thomas HoodMiss Kilmansegg – Her Dream
“The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can’t get there, is the meanest feeling in the world.”  ~Edgar Watson Howe
*Oh man, he’s got that right.
“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.”  ~Leonard Cohen
“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying.  It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”  ~Dale Carnegie
*True, true. He would know.
Don’t fight with the pillow, but lay down your head
And kick every worriment out of the bed.”
~Edmund Vance Cooke
*Excellent advice. For that, some of us need medication.
Sweet dreams all!

“I Could Give Up Chocolate But I’m Not a Quitter” And Why Dark Chocolate Is Good For You

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”~ Lucy Van Pelt (in Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz)

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate from A Sweet Life

“There is in fact a growing body of credible scientific evidence that chocolate contains a host of heart-healthy and mood-enhancing phytochemicals, with benefits to both body and mind.

For one, chocolate is a plentiful source of antioxidants. These are substances that reduce the ongoing cellular and arterial damage caused by oxidative reactions.

You may have heard of a type of antioxidants called polyphenols. These are protective chemicals found in plant foods such as red wine and green tea. Chocolate, it turns out, is particularly rich in polyphenols. According to researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, the same antioxidant properties found in red wine that protect against heart disease are also found in comparable quantities in chocolate…” *For the complete article visit the Sweet Life link above.

“Exercise is a dirty word… Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.”

Three Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate from Reader’s Digest:

1. It can help prevent heart disease:

Like tea, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are compounds that act as antioxidants…(for more visit the above link.)

2. It can improve your mood: Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. It also contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. (*My excuse for eating so much of it.  Moderation is stressed.)

3. It can protect your skin: German researchers found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate absorb UV light, help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, and improve skin’s hydration and complexion.

And so on, you get the drift.  Now for some of my favorite varieties.  Feel Free to share yours:

Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate: “A new addition! The complexity of dark chocolate is enhanced by the addition of Fleur de Sel, a premium French sea salt in this premium new chocolate bar from the Lindt Master Chocolatiers.” (Oh, look–they’re having a sale on Lindor Truffles)

Equal Exchange: “Our organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars are a rich and delicious treat that supports small-scale farmers and their families. The bars combine famous Swiss standards in chocolate making with cocoa from the farmer co-operatives CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic, COCABO, in Panama, CACVRA, in Peru, and Fortaleza del Valle co-operative in Ecuador; fairly traded organic sugar from co-operatives in Paraguay; and fairly traded vanilla from Madagascar. ”

Green and Black’s: “100% Fair Trade Certified~Dark 70%”

Cocoa solids are a combination of cocoa mass and cocoa butter. The latter is there to coat each individual cocoa and sugar particle, allowing the chocolate to melt beautifully and cleanly in the mouth, revealing intense, bittersweet chocolate aroma.”

Ghirardelli Intense Dark™ Chocolates:

“…deliver luxuriously deep and velvety chocolate blended with sophisticated ingredients in a variety of indulgent flavors and cacao percentages. This line of 100% all natural chocolates delivers unrivaled chocolate intensity in a delicately thin chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt slowly in your mouth.”

“It’s not that chocolates are a substitute for love. Love is a substitute for chocolate. Chocolate is, let’s face it, far more reliable than a man.”

~Miranda Ingram

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food.”

~Michael Levine, nutrition researcher, as quoted in The Emperors of Chocolate

“Researchers have discovered that chocolate produced some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two, but can’t remember what they are.”~ Anonymous

For more great chocolate quotes visit: Chocolate Quotes and Sayings

Old Time Cures

Herbal Cures From The Shenandoah Valley

These cures are recorded in Shenandoah Voices by late Shenandoah Valley historian and author John Heatwole.  I knew John and much admired him.  He’s left a wealth of information behind in his books. For a sprained ankle take catnip, sprinkle salt on it and bind it to the ankle. ‘Mullin tea’ was also used for sprained ankles.  The leaves of the mullin plant were boiled in vinegar and water and the ankle was bathed in it while it was still warm.
Turpentine was also rubbed on a sprain.  You never covered it or it would burn.~Catnip tea was made for children with the colic.~
Queen Anne’s Lace made into a tea is said to relieve backache.~Sage and honey tea is a good brew to give to someone with pneumonia.
~Drinking tea made from aromatic sage is said to keep a woman’s hair from turning gray prematurely.~
Lobelia tea was used by Thomsonian herb doctor Gabe Heatwole as a purge.  Lobelia is an annual or perennial plant of the bellflower family.~Goldenseal and Comfort Root (*Pinelands Hibiscus or Cut-leaf Hibiscus) teas are good for an upset stomach.~If you have kidney problems, swamp root tea can be used for relief.~
Greasy mustard plaster was used on the sufferer’s chest for a deep cold.To avoid being burned by the mustard, this plaster was made with lard and spread on a cloth that could be laid on the sufferer’s chest without burning. ~

Another non-burning plaster was made with mustard, lard, and egg whites.~

A family in Singers Glen used a mustard and lard poultice for pneumonia.  When the patient’s chest started to turn red, it was removed. The patient was washed off thoroughly, and then a hot onion poultice was applied. ~

For a bad cold or pleurisy, they’d put lard on your chest with salt sprinkled on it of a night.~
A tea made of peppermint leaves will stop a stomachache.~Pennyroyal tea was used to break a fever, for upset stomach and to treat the common cold.  It is of the same family as mint and yields aromatic oil.
During the Civil War, some Valley soldiers chewed slippery elm bark when in battle or on the march. It was said to relieve thirst and hunger.~
Miss Gray Pifer of Mt. Crawford said that ‘horehound grew down near the creek. Momma made a horehound syrup with brown sugar for coughs.’
~In Page County a woman said that her grandfather smoked a corncob pipe, and if a child in the family had an earache, he’d blow smoke in the ear as a cure.  She also said for spider bite, you should cut a piece from a new potato and hold it against the bite. Eventually the potato will turn black as it absorbs the poison. ~

My Friend, Author Vonnie Davis

Thanks for having me here on your lovely and informative blog, Beth.  I’ve been looking forward to it.

*Thanks for being here, Vonnie.  I’m very happy to have you. 🙂

Last October I took Beth’s online course in herbal lore and the historic medicinal uses of herbs. If she ever offers it again, I highly recommend it. I took it merely for my own personal enrichment. At the time I never dreamed I’d use some of what I’d learned in my debut novel, Storm’s Interlude, recently released by The Wild Rose Press.

Beth and I exchanged emails regarding green tea usage. She sent me a link to a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic showing that green tea extract helps reduce the number of leukemia cells and shrink swollen lymph nodes. Her contribution was invaluable. You see, in Storm’s Interlude, Rachel, a nurse who does home health care, travels to Texas to prepare her new patient for a second round of chemo. Sunny has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Sunny is also a twin to Storm Masterson, our hero.

Storm’s not wild about Rachel’s blended form of home health care. Although she holds a Masters degree in nursing, she’s also certified in acupuncture, massage therapy and other holistic methods. Part of her treatment includes her patients taking care of healing plants. Drastic changes are made to their diets. She’s worked hard at blending traditional and non-traditional care into a home-based program that works.

Part of Storm and Rachel’s conflict is his strong desire to protect his twin sister and his fear that Rachel’s form of therapy will harm Sunny. Slowly, as he sees improvement, his respect for Rachel grows. Of course the reader is also privy to the physical attraction that simmers between the two whenever they’re near each other. Simmers? No, it explodes.

*Fascinating, Vonnie.  I’m honored to have been a part of the inspiration behind this story.  I very much enjoyed teaching that herbal lore class.  Much of that material is posted here on my blog.

~And now for a brief excerpt to introduce you to the major characters of Storm’s Interlude —

~Everyone was seated at the table when Rachel joined them for lunch. Jackson was there, sitting next to Sunny. “Hi, Jackson. Nice to see you again. Sorry, I’m late, everyone. I was on the phone with Dr. Frey. He was giving me the results of your labs. For now, things are stable and that’s very good. I want to impress upon you how good that is.”

Sunny’s face brightened. “Remission?”

Rachel didn’t want to disappoint her, nor did she want to mislead her, giving her false hope. “Not yet. But, with the levels of leukemic cells in your blood and bone marrow staying consistent for a month, we seeing a stabilizing effect. Granted, the numbers are still high. The good news is they’re not increasing.”

Storm laid his hand over Rachel’s. Pain warred with hope in his features. “You…do you and the doctor consider this a good thing?”

She nodded. “Yes. With our doing everything we can to make your sister stronger: healthy eating, exercise, sun, green tea and positive emotional reinforcement, this stabilization levels the playing field for a span of time. A span of time for Sunny to get stronger, so she can undergo the second series of chemo. I’m feeling very good about this.”

He sat back and closed his eyes. He nodded in silence.

Tears glistened in Sunny’s eyes. “Hope,” she whispered, her chin quivering.

Jackson drew Sunny to him. He kissed her forehead. “Everything good begins with hope, sugar.”~

I hope you’ll come visit me on my blog. http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com

My website is http://www.vonniedavis.com