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For ten years I worked in the psychology field under many titles and with a wide variety of individuals.  I was a group home worker, team leader, special needs teaching assistant, mental health worker, addictions and crisis worker, psychiatric rehabilitation worker and an early intervention worker.  Although these jobs did not always pay the greatest I was not working to merely collect a paycheque, I was trying to make a difference in these people’s lives.  I worked with a variety of individuals some that were deaf or visually impaired, handicapped people, children with special needs ( behaviourally challenged, ADHD, autism, etc.), persons with addictions, bulimics, anorexics, the sexually and or physically abused, homeless people and a few I forgot to mention.

My duties were many: some required heavy lifting, house cleaning, counselor, confidante, bookkeeper, grocery shopper, cooking, etc.  In essence, I was kind of a Mother to these people as I…

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4 Strategies for Relieving Pain Without Medication

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4 Strategies for Relieving Pain without Medication

The most common types of pain are from arthritis, lower back, bone/joint pain, muscle pain and Fibromyalgia. Pain can also take on many forms, changing locations and intensity daily or even hourly in the same person.

There are, however, many pain relief options out there, some that you may not yet be aware of. Because pain is often such a complex issue to treat, and the methods that work highly varied depending on your individual situation, adding one, two or several of the following strategies to your arsenal may give you the much-needed relief you need.

Best of all, the following options are completely safe and natural, which means they can be used successfully by just about everybody.
What you’ll notice is that many of these strategies use the power of your mind to heal physical pain. When you focus your mind on healing, relief follows.

Meditation

Meditation keeps your mind focused on the present, which makes the experience of pain less intense. Originating in Eastern spiritual traditions, meditation is now a common form of mind-body medicine practiced by people of all cultural and religious backgrounds. (1)
In a study by researchers from the University of Manchester in England it was found that people who regularly meditated found decreased pain possibly because they spent less time anticipating it, which blunted its emotional impact. (2)
If you’re new to meditation, you can still benefit. A separate study found that after just a single hour of mindfulness meditation training over a three-day period, participants felt less pain while meditating and also experienced less pain sensitivity when they were not meditating. (3)

Many cities now offer local classes to learn the basics of meditation, but you can get started by finding a quiet location, sitting in a comfortable posture, then focusing your attention on your breath, an object or a mantra (a meaningful word or phrase). If you find your mind wandering, simply bring it back to your focal point without judgment. Prayer, tai chi, qi gong, yoga and journaling can also offer meditative benefits, so choose the form that feels best for you.

Laughter

When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers that also contribute to a sense of well-being. This may help to reduce your pain directly, while also distracting you from the pain, similar to meditation, and providing a wonderful form of stress relief.
Indirectly, laughter therapy, which is, as it sounds, using humor therapeutically to get you to laugh more often, can help to relieve pain by:

Relaxing your muscles
Easing digestion and soothing stomach aches
Promoting relaxation and better sleep
Enhancing oxygen intake
Boosting your immune system and circulatory system

Massage Therapy

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Massage therapists use a variety of techniques, including kneading, tapping, pressure and deep circular movements, to relieve a variety of conditions, including pain. According to a survey by the American Hospital Association, nearly 91 percent of respondents agreed that massage was effective in reducing pain.
Further, according to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage stimulates your brain to produce endorphins (natural pain-relieving chemicals) and studies have shown that massage therapy:

•Promotes relaxation and alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in cancer patients
•Reduces post-traumatic headaches better than cold-packs
•Reduces pain and muscles spasms in patients who have had heart bypass surgery

A separate study also found that massage therapy provided some immediate pain relief for patients with advanced cancer.
For best results, look for a reputable and qualified massage therapist who is experienced in helping with pain relief.

I have used massage therapy for a few years now. I find that a therapist that takes into consideration the areas in which you experience the most pain or sensitivity and is knowledgeable about Fibromyalgia is your best choice. As I tend to suffer from inflammation in my abdomen after my treatment, my massage therapist massages me while I lay on my side which makes the experience more pleasant for me. She also uses a heating pad under my body before my massage that allows my back and legs to relax more before the massage gets underway.

Music

Music can be extremely soothing not only for your mind but also for your body. By way of distraction and relaxation, music is a form of pain relief that’s as simple and enjoyable as it is effective.

In one small study, patients with back, neck or joint pain experienced a 20 percent decrease in pain after listening to music for one hour a day for seven days, compared to a 2 percent increase in pain in the control group. (4)

Music has also been found to help reduce post-surgical pain, (5)
chronic and cancer pain, along with reducing patients’ need for pain-relieving medications. (6).

So whenever the mood strikes, put on your favorite musical artist and let the sounds help soothe you.

Photos : http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

References:

1. 12. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008;149(6):369–379.
2. LiveScience.com June 6, 2010
3. The Journal of Pain 2010 Mar; 11(3):199-209. Epub 2009 Oct 22
4. Journal of Advanced Nursing Volume 54 Issue 5, Pages 553 – 562
5. Journal of Advanced Nursing Volume 33 Issue 2, Pages 208 – 21518.
6. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 2.

That Part of Me (c) Angela H Penn 2013

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That Part of Me

 

Those songs lie neatly on the shelf,

Much like the pain I hide from myself,

 

We were wild and we were free,

Society was a mystery,

 

We were fearless and young,

Still knew how to have fun,

 

We envisioned a world better than we had known,

We claimed this new place as our own,

 

Then things became too intense,

Reality intervened at a great expense,

 

Now physically apart,

The strains of the heart,

 

Only accessible by phone calls and emails,

the exchange of music videos and fanciful tales,

 

And then everything ceased,

Only to find that you were deceased,

 

So I ask myself in a state of shock,

How do I live without my rock?

 

And who will NOW understand that part of me?

 

Although I mourn the loss of you, my dear sweet friend,

One day, we again will meet, for this is not the end,

 

Our mornings of laughter in which I did not sleep,

My jokes that made you laugh until you would weep,

 

The midnight jam sessions with you playing your bass and I singing by your side,

Your smile and glance that would feel me with pride,

 

I guess we both forsake the life we could have had but never made,

In my heart you will never ever fade,

 

My only wish that you must know

Is that I regret not being able to hold your hand and be there when you go.

 

But fate would not allow me to ease this ache.

that part of me is now at stake,

 

I leave you with this poem I wrote through hours of tears,

My heart will not forget those precious years.

 

And when my time comes to leave this plastic place,

Greet me at the garden of his good grace.

 

 

Turn off and Tune In

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    is it me or what?  The times they be a changing.  In the last month we all have been over exposed to death, sadness, unrest and at times anarchy, via the internet, FB and various media oulets.  It is time to turn off and tune in!  Turn off the television set, go off-line, get away from the mindless chatter that keeps us away from being centred and positive.
All of this negativity is not good for one’s soul and as much as we want to watch this and stay current our bodies and minds need rest, rejuvenation and self- care.

The atrocities of the world will always be there the next day and the day after, we will not miss much.  Let’s get off the train of doom and into the light of some positive activities, maybe get up and move, do some stretching, read an uplifting book, walk the dog, take a nap, whatever your body and mind are desiring from us.  Hug someone you love, play in the snow, go to a yoga class, paint, write, sing, take a mental health day, sculpt, plan a day with family and friends but do something that takes you away from all the pain in the world.

The Bus Theory

The Bus Theory

The “Bus Theory” is the simple process of sending love to all who we have encountered in our lives, either incarnate (alive) or disincarnate (deceased). This exercise is done alone in meditation, so you do not need for the person to be present in order to experience the healing benefits.

Imagine that you’re a bus driver, and you have the ability to place anyone you want on your bus. Begin by visualizing/envisioning all of the people who are closest to you, including those who have passed. One by one, as they get on board, hug them and thank them for what they mean to you.

Spiritual Awakenings/ Enlightenments

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By request from my dear friend Elaine R.

 

From  Alchemy of the Goddess by Jeanette Amlie

Signs of Spiritual Awakening?

Midlife Crisis or Transformation? It is also amazing how many of the people I work with are women in their middle years. So often the instability of hormonal imbalance is a direct catalyst for the “pressure cooker” of repressed energy to begin to crack the vessel. Although this can certainly be a painful & scary time, that view can be transformed when one begins to see that there is meaning & potential benefit in the experience.
The list below is by no means comprehensive or definitive. Yet the reports of people who have been through this kind of experience share so many of these “symptoms” that it is difficult not to take notice.

  • Feeling as if you are in a pressure cooker or in intense energy.
  • Depression – or feeling like things are never going to get better.
  • Anxiety, panic and feelings of hysteria – often related to the ego sensing it’s imminent demise.
  • Diarrhea, constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The digestive system is directly linked to the autonomic nervous system and responds to fight, flight and freeze responses.
  • Heart pain and palpitations – the heart is literally “opening” through calcified layers of conditioning and repression. But get it checked if symptoms resemble a heart attack. Most often they will say you have a healthy heart, but it’s good to be reassured & take no chances!
  • Emotional ups and downs, weeping and sensitivity – emotions are the key to the heart which often expands significantly during conscious awakening.
  • Heightened sensitivity to surroundings including noise, electricity, food and other stimulus.
  • Hot or cold flashes – many symptoms can mock menopause.
  • Unusual aches and pains throughout different parts of your body.
  • Energy & sensations in lower back, sacrum & spine. Sexual energy & spiritual awakening often intermingle as the Kundalini energy may begin to move up the spine from the base of the nervous system in the perineum.
  • Migraines can sometimes be linked to old held trauma patterns as well as shifting or conflicting beliefs.
  • Temporary recurrence of old conditions from earlier in life as the body works to clear them.
  • Skin eruptions, acne, rashes, hives & boils – the skin is a major organ for eliminating toxins.
  • Blurred vision and eye irritation – related to “3rd Eye” 6th Chakra activity as well as the fire of kundalini.
  • Waking at night between 2 and 4 am – various theories for this common symptom, including our unconscious connection with greater knowing during these nocturnal hours than our conscious state often allows.
  • Night sweats and hot flashes – body literally burning off denser energies and toxins.
  • Extreme cold with inability to get warm – Often can follow a time of intense shifting & be a sign of possible dissociation when we are confronting old trauma patterns in order to release them.
  • Struggle to follow usual routines and activities – old coping skills & discipline not working.
  • Extreme fatigue and lethargy – possibly related to the body re-creating itself through tissue die-off and regeneration. Parasympathetic dominant activity of “rest and repair”.

 

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Upon reading this piece by Jeanette Amlie, I realized that some of these signs she refers to as a spiritual awakening can be also deemed as characteristics of Fibromyalgia.  One cannot limit what is referred to as a spiritual awakening as strictly menopausal in nature as there are just as many men that are attaining a level of spiritual awakening in the world as I type this.

  In my own personal experience I would describe ” a spiritual awakening” as a deeper awareness of myself and the world.  A time in which one sees things with more clarity and with a sense of inner peace.  One does not need to be experiencing menopausal type symptoms to be in this state.  I attribute much of my spiritual awakening to reaching a certain stage in my life in which I am seeking more personal fulfillment.  I am not one to find material possessions fulfilling nor do I seek affirmation from the outside world.  I am exploring more of myself regarding wants and needs.  Most of us will go through this stage at some point.  I prefer the term enlightenment as I have experienced many of those and enlightenment is an on-going process it does not manifest itself completely overnight.

 

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Some of the symptoms that Jeanette details I have questioned at times.  The waking at 2 am, the weeping ( which may be grief or loss of dreams, & failed expectations), the heightened sensitivity to surroundings including noise, and other stimuli along with feeling extremely cold and being unable to get warm.

Enlightenment can be more then what Amlie describes, an awareness of a situation, letting go of something that is no longer beneficial to our well – being, perhaps a trauma or bad memory.  It might be choosing to live in peace and walking away from adversity, choosing your battles more wisely.  Whatever you see it as being as it is a truly personal experience.

I challenge you the reader, to share your experiences with us so we can all attain a greater understanding of this period of change.

  

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PHOTOS: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Licorice Root: History and Uses

 

 

Licorice

Latin name:  Glycyrrhiza glabra

Common names:  Chinese Licorice, Gan Cao, Licorice Root, Sweet Wood, Kuo – lao, Ling – t’ung

Medicinal part:  Rootstock

How Licorice Root Is Used :

 Peeled licorice root is available in dried and powdered forms.

 Licorice root is available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

 Licorice can be found with glycyrrhizin removed; the product is called DGL (for “deglycyrrhizinated licorice”).

 

World view of the Licorice Root

    As this herb has been used for a wide variety of ailments, for the purpose of this article I will limit those to the most commonly utilized along with any recent research findings related to the medicinal usage of the licorice root.   Most herbal preparations are made from the dried fruit of the plant.

   Licorice is a perennial plant that can be found in southern and central Europe and in some parts of Asia.  Licorice is popular in its natural form in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain. The root of the plant is simply unearthed, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener.  Licorice is not only the number one DRUG used in the world today but it is also the most frequently administered herb by herbalists for themselves.  Europeans use the licorice root for the treatment of chest pains, cough, congestion, overall fatigue and constipation.  The root is more commonly used in India and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), compared to North America, making it more widely used than any pharmaceutical drug on the market today.   Also known as the “Great Adjunct”, the “Great Detoxifier” and the “Grandfather of Chinese herbs”, licorice is thought to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions that affect the stomach, kidneys, lungs as well as the spleen.  It can also be used affective in the treatment of auto-immune conditions including lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis and animal dander allergies according to TCM.

  In the East Indian or Ayurvedic  (Sanskrit: आयुर्वेद; Āyurveda, “the knowledge for long life”) culture, Licorice is thought to be a “liquifier of the stomach”, aiding in the digestion process,   Again respiratory conditions appear to be minimized with the use of licorice root, specifically in cases of asthma, bronchitis and colds.   The East Indians believe that the licorice root can strengthen cases of fatigue as well as promote eye sight.  Arthritic conditions, urinary complaints, fevers and circulation can all be improved with treatment of this herb.

   Looking at the North American Indians, licorice root was commonly administered for sore throats, bronchial conditions and for calming an upset stomach.   Like the Cheyenne, licorice was taken for gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.  Ear aches, fever and toothaches were treated with licorice root by the Dakota and Pawnee.  The Navaho used the root as a mild cathartic (laxative) also as a form of cleansing which was prepared as a decoction ( water solution of plant extracts which is boiled).

 

Modern confirms that the pharmaceutical licorice is beneficial in the following situations:

    As an estrogenic, anti-allergic, expectorant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-convulsive, choleretic, anti-tussive ( relieves coughing) , anti-hepatotoxic (strength and stimulant for the functioning of liver), and antineoplastic (to prevent, inhibit or halt the development of a tumor).

    Licorice has been proven to regulate estrogen metabolism as well as stimulate the immune system which has been instrumental in the treatment of CFS and Fibromyalgia by increasing cortisol activity and reducing stress levels.  Evidence suggests that this herb inhibits the growth of RNA and DNA in certain viruses such as herpes among others. Various studies suggest that licorice root is highly effective in the treatment of ulcers, inhibits toxicity in the liver and has a cortisone-like action as an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory.  This is good news in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis which affects many people in the older population.

According to the many sources I have consulted licorice root is used to eliminate side effects from other herbs.

  The compounded carbenoxolone is derived from licorice. Some studies indicate that it inhibits 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1, an enzyme that is highly expressed in liver and fat tissues, where it plays a role in metabolism, and in the brain, where the same enzyme is involved in stress response that has been associated with age-related mental decline.

   The herb is primarily used in medicine for respiratory conditions such as: allergies, bronchitis, colds, and sore throats.   It is also used as treatment for acid reflux, heartburn and stomach ulcers, digestive tract inflammation, diseases of the skin, relief from physical and emotional stress, and certain diseases of the liver.  Licorice can be used to treat ileitis, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease as it is antispasmodic in the bowels.[20]

    According to Science Daily, Scientists are reporting identification of two substances in licorice — used extensively in Chinese traditional medicine — that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth loss in children and adults.

   The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) claims the licorice root has anti-inflammatory effects and has been used to treat stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throats, and infections caused by viruses. They also point out that several clinical trials found that the component glycyrrhizin, also found in licorice could reduce complications from hepatitis C in some patients.

  The benefits of using licorice root are far more extensive then I have explored in this article.  I strongly encourage readers to look further into the use of licorice root to attain a more comprehensive understanding of this powerful herb.

     Licorice root may cause water retention, raise blood pressure and should not be combined with medications that are used for heart conditions.  One must be extremely cautious when taking any pharmaceutical drugs with any herb, herbal preparation of supplement as harmful interactions can occur.  These include OTC medications and prescription medications.  When in doubt ask a herbalist, or wholistic therapist, or naturopath with training in herbology.  Ensure that you provide your medical professional as well as your herbal advisor with a list of all the medications you are using at the time.

 

 

 

Bibliography: 

 

Lust. John ( 1979). The Herb Book.

Sandeep, T. C.; Joyce L. W. Yau, Alasdair M. J. MacLullich, June Noble, Ian J. Deary, Brian R. Walker, and Jonathan R. Seckl (19 April 2004). “11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase inhibition improves cognitive function in healthy elderly men and type 2 diabetics”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (17): 6734–6739. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0306996101. PMC 404114. PMID 15071189.

Winston, David; Steven Maimes (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press.

by Terry Willard, Ph.D. assisted by James McCormick, M.Sc. (June 1997). Textbook of Modern Herbology. 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104115106.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Falternative_medicine+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Health+%26+Medicine+News+–+Alternative+Medicine%29

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot

 A. Penn (c) June 2012