Friday, November 11, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace ... What?

I was browsing a wildflower book and came across this: the seeds of the dainty Queen Anne's Lace were used as a morning-after contraceptive! Wow, how did settlers know stuff like that?

I looked it up in Wikipedia and sure enough: The crushed seeds were once thought to be a form of birth control ... first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Research conducted on mice has offered a degree of confirmation for this use—wild carrot was found to disrupt the ovum implantation process, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive. Chinese studies have also indicated the seeds block progesterone synthesis, which could explain this effect.

Don't try this at home though! Queen Anne's Lace (aka wild carrot) resembles the deadly poison hemlock!

Friday, September 23, 2011

X is for Xanthan

I've seen xanthan gum listed as an ingredient but didn't think to look it up until recently. It is created by a fermentation process. This raises a red flag for me because many fermented foods don't agree with me due to my allergy to yeasts and molds.

I haven't experimented with xanthan gum and I don't think it was included in any of the allergy tests I had. However, I see on the Wisegeek website that a lot of folks are volunteering their stories of allergy or sensitivity to xanthan gum.

It is used as a thickener in a lot of foods including many gluten-free foods, ice creams, and even some herbal extracts. I'm going to go back and read some labels of foods that I've suspected of causing me indigestion and see if it's listed as an ingredient. If it is, keeping track of whether I react to those foods should let me know if this is a missing piece to the puzzle of "why hasn't my digestion gotten better even though I'm eating healthier."

Actually, keeping a food diary with notes on symptoms is a valuable tool to diagnosing food sensitivities, but doing it for more than a few days is difficult. I've tried it and it just takes too much time. Plus who wants to obsess over every bite and every little ingredient?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More Sources of Yeast Allergy Reactions

I discovered another yeast-related cause of itching: kimchee (also spelled kimchi). It contains yeast, so I'm allergic to it. Too bad, it's supposed to be good for you.

In researching yeast allergies further, I found the following:

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's Wrong With Antibacterial Soaps?

Triclosan kills "weak" bacteria but favors the tolerant, among them species of bacteria that eat triclosan.

That's one of the facts you'll find in this disturbing report on antibacterial soaps on the Scientific American website.

Most people who use antibiotic soap are no healthier than those who use normal soap. AND those individuals who are chronically sick and use antibiotic soap appear to get SICKER.
Triclosan is still found in most liquid soaps and various other products. Watch the labels and avoid it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saccharomyces and Itching

My doctor recommended the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii to help with long-standing diarrhea. I took it for a while and recently read that it may cause a reaction if you are allergic to yeast. Which I am, both to baker's yeast and brewer's yeast, and even to candida yeast. So I stopped taking the Saccharomyces capsules to see what happened and the next day noticed that the itching that had been causing problems for several months went away. It was a severe itch under my breasts which was somewhat helped by athlete's foot cream.

And no, the capsules did not cure the diarrhea. I'm now taking a different probiotic L. plantarum (as LactoflamX) and it does not make me itch.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ouch! Dog bite!

My dog bit me! He got his leash wrapped around one of his legs and could not get free and was barking furiously. I reached down to help him and he bit my hand! He looked startled as soon as he did it and I was able to finish freeing his leg.

After I washed the wound on my hand, I decided it needed medical attention. Although not huge, it was a lot more than a scratch. Since my doctor's office was already closed for the day, I went to the hospital.

I had to wait for a couple of hours but finally I saw a doctor. She cleaned the bite with saline solution and had me get an X-ray and a tetanus shot. She returned to say the X-ray was fine and prescribed an antibiotic. Then she applied a splint and gauze and an elastic-type wrapping. She said that bites often get infected so the antibiotic is important.

Now a couple of days have passed and I'm doing well. Need to work on dog behavior though!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bloating is Miserable When Flying

Probably the most uncomfortable flight I ever had was one where I suffered bloating. As soon as the plane got up in the air, minor gas bubbles turned into severe bloating! I spent the entire 5-hour flight in severe pain. Finally when the plane descended the pain subsided.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ouch! Mouth Sores...

Canker sores, fever blisters, cold sores... whatever they are, they are painful when they erupt on you gums!

One showed up a couple of weeks ago and I pretty much ignored it. (I tend to ignore pain unless it is pretty horrible.) Then a few days ago, another one erupted. That was a wake-up call that I need to do something different.

I found some Gly-oxide in the bathroom cabinet but it was out of date. So I went to the web. Since I wanted a non-commercial site, I first looked at a page from the National Institute of Dental Research (NIH). They have some tips for avoiding the sores:
  • Use a lip-sunscreen. (I knew that sun bathing can set off these sores but haven't tried this tip. It makes sense.)
  • Some investigators have suggested adding lysine to the diet or eliminating foods such as nuts, chocolate, seeds or gelatin. This is not thoroughly tested but I recently ate walnuts and remember that they set off cold sores before. Guess I will put the rest of them out for the squirrels!
  • British studies show that, in about 20 percent of patients, canker sores are due partly to nutritional deficiencies, especially lack of vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.
  • In a small percentage of patients, canker sores occur with gastrointestinal problems, such as an inability to digest certain cereals. Patients with food allergies can reduce the frequency of canker sores by avoiding those foods.
  • If you have sores, avoid abrasive foods, acidic and spicy foods.
Sores due to herpes are contagious, but canker sores are not. Get a diagnosis if you haven't already.

Read the report here. For another site that includes home remedies, click here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eggs Not So High in Cholesterol as Thought

After decades of telling people that eggs are high in cholesterol, experts are finally saying that they aren't! This is good news for egg farmers and for anyone who likes a nutritious breakfast.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ivy, A Poem

Recently I found this on a slip of paper. I wrote it many years ago, long before I learned that ivy is considered an invasive plant here. Before I toss out the slip of paper, I want to share this:

Creeping in
like the ivy on the back door sill,
the first doubts.
Shall I cut them off?
No, better to tug them gently,
back to the roots
where they get sustenance from the soil.
Then cut them. Perhaps use the plant to decorate some barren spot.

Perhaps use my knowledge to look at myself
once again and learn.
Am I too high-minded
or too accepting?
Or just too high in expectations?

Ivy is a lovely plant.
Did I not encourage it to grow?
If I were to pull it all out,
I would be depriving myself of something


Monday, January 24, 2011

More on GERD

I've been trying to figure out why my prescription medications for GERD (reflux) stop working after a week or two. Could it be the herbal teas I drink o some food? I'm allergic to regular tea (both black and green) and coffee contributes to heartburn, so I drink mild herb teas. Only a few kinds actually, because many herb teas give me heartburn too.

I read that St. John's Wort might interact with Nexium, so that could have been why the Nexium stopped working for me. But even the experts don't seem sure about whether it really does or not!

What's definite is that St. John's Wort is a strong herb and can cause problems with some medicines. Read about interactions with both herbs and foods here. (The food list contains some surprises, so everyone on prescriptions should be familiar with it.)

I really like the taste of St. Johns Wort tea but I've given it up for now. The only herbal tea I've been able to drink lately has been Burdock Root tea. It's very mild and unfortunately has very little taste. But at least it doesn't seem to contribute to heartburn or nausea.

Meanwhile I've got a new prescription to pick up. This is the fourth one I've tried for GERD. They all make me feel worse than I did before I was diagnosed with GERD! I'm only getting one week's supply this time because wasted prescriptions are costing me a fortune!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

PPI Blues

Two months ago I was diagnosed with GERD. It was a surprise to me but it showed up as irritation to the esophagus when I had an endoscopy.

The doctor gave me samples of Nexium. For about three weeks it worked well. I was able to eat a small amount of spicy food without a problem. (Okay, I had a problem with spicy food for a long time, but I didn't think of it as reflux disorder; I just figured I was sensitive to certain spices.)

Then the Nexium stopped working. I started getting nauseous after almost every meal, even non-spicy low-fat meals. So the doctor prescribed Omeprazole, another proton pump inhibitor (PPI).

It worked for a while but then I started getting nauseous again. Funny thing is I felt worse than before I even had the endoscopy! I called the doctor and he said to increase the dose.

That gave me side-effects: constipation and a sore throat. So they changed my prescription to Prevacid. Again, it worked at first. But it stopped and now I'm suffering with nausea and chest pain. Old-fashioned antacids like baking soda help some. But I wish I had never started on the PPI's!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Can't See Chronic Pain

I came across a couple of websites of interest to people with "invisible" disabilities. One is the Invisible Disabilities Association. The other is But You Don't Look Sick. Thanks to this blog for the links.

Dogs Can Smell Gluten

USA Today spotlights a hardworking gluten-detection service dog.

I don't suppose my dog could do that... it would be useful. But my problem with hidden wheat is in restaurant food, and I can't imagine taking my dog into restaurants.

Obviously gluten has a distinct odor that dogs can detect. Why can't someone develop an instrument that detects it? Of course, if this were practical, the customs service would have instruments to detect all kinds of contraband. Dogs are awesome!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Are You Consuming Too Much Fluoride?

You probably saw the news: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a lowered limit on the amount of fluoride in drinking water because excessive fluoride is causing spots on the teeth of many children. Did you also see the story about fluoride in tea?

A study presented at the 2010 International Association of Dental Research Conference in Spain reported that people who drink too much tea risk their bone health. You can safely drink two to four cups of tea a day, but keep in mind that fluoride can also me found in water and toothpaste so it adds up.

Read the article here.