Worker bee with pollen

Worker bee with pollen

I had a little brainstorm today, (just a squall really, but on a significant topic.) I have osteoarthritis in hip and back (as well as EDS), and it’s been bothering me a lot of late.

Today as A was home we were talking about how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. And I told her that several weeks ago I was doing great, was even walking without a cane for the first time in ages.

And it hit me – that was right when I had a bad bee sting that left a big load of bee venom in my left leg (the one affected by the arthritis) as I was stung dealing with a hive that tilted over.

The following couple of weeks I was practically dancing about, at the Chiro we celebrated, because I was walking without my cane.

Then this past week with all the rain we’ve been having, I’ve been struggling again. Really bad pain a couple of times, *really* bad. Like, 11 on a scale of one to ten.

And it hit me this morning, could the bee sting have caused me to improve enough to walk without the cane? I haven’t been stung in several weeks, and any venom in my system would have worn off.

So I called my friend G, a longtime beekeeper, who had spoken to me of apitherapy several months ago, before I was diagnosed with EDS and thought I had fibromyalgia. He said apitherapy worked to relieve fibro, and that all came back in a flood today.

I was due to go out and check on the bees today anyway, so I took a small jar (with holes in the lid) along with me, and scooped up three worker bees as I was out there. I then put them in the fridge for about an hour to slow them down enough to work with.

Sadly, when honeybees sting, they die, as the stinger is pulled from their bodies. That part makes me feel pretty wretched. But I also know that when my pain gets this bad, I can barely cope with much of anything, so I felt I needed to ask for their sacrifice to help me regain my health.

As G had instructed, I took then then-chilled bees out of the fridge, and put them on a smooth plate, leaving the small glass jar over two as I waited for one to wake back up. When she did, I grasped her by the thorax, and tried to get her to sting me, to no avail for some time. Finally, A handed me a piece of paper towel which I used to hold the bee against my hip, and huzzah, she stung me!

Now, who’d have thought I’d be glad to be stung by a bee. That sounds so silly. But there is a long history of apitherapy as natural medicine. And since I do have bees now, why not use it to heal myself?!

I gave myself three stings, and G says it can take up to three days to feel the effects, but I am already so relieved and feeling better just mentally to think I have something I can do to deal with this pain that doesn’t involve some $200 a month prescription for a med which doesn’t really work well enough anyway.

Time will tell. I’m going to blog to see how long this will last, and how often I need to re-apply the venom. Some people are apparently cured after only several treatments! And apitherapy apparently works wonders for MS too, according to Dr. Google.

I gave thanks to each of the dear bees as they stung me, and then put them out of their misery once the stinger came out. I didn’t want them to suffer. And I am so grateful! Having bees is so wonderful on so many levels, and as A said “I’ve been surrounded by natural medicine all my life, this feels so normal!”

Keep your fingers crossed for me, and I’ll keep you updated. Bless the bees!

I like to make this drink in the summer, it’s so refreshing I could drink it all day long. Very simple yet tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 bags Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea
  • 3 bags Celestial Seasonings Decaffeinated Green Tea
  • Six cups of boiling filtered water
  • Eight or more cups cold filtered water
  • 1 Tablespoon local, unpasteurized honey* (or to taste)

Place the teabags in a large teapot or glass jar (do it in the sink the first time if you’re not sure about the jar, don’t want it to crack!) Boil six cups of water, and let it cool slightly before pouring over the teabags. Steep for three minutes (I know that sounds like not very long, but trust me on this one.) Stir in the honey while the tea is hot. Fill the jar up with the rest of the cool water. Chill, and serve over ice.

* I always prefer to use local, unpasteurized honey for its many health benefits. Honey that you buy in the grocery store can be from places as varied as China and India, and can contain all sorts of nasty stuff. See this article from Time Magazine last summer: Tainted Chinese Honey May Be On Store Shelves.

Green tea has a host of health benefits, including antioxidants, which can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. According to Harvard Medical School, “A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.”

Besides, it just plain tastes good!

From time to time, we all find ourselves surrounded by negative energy. In this post I’ll be going over some steps you can take to remove negative energy from your environment, and put in place some protections to ensure it doesn’t come back again.

Before I start though, I do need to make clear that I do not believe in demons, per se. I do believe in angels, or higher spirits, but not demons. That’s just me, and your own personal beliefs may differ, but either way, these techniques work. Also, I have a number of friends who carry a number of different religious beliefs, as such I am not going to address specific deities, please just use the one(s) you worship, and adjust as necessary.

The first thing you need to do is clear your space; house, apartment, working area (if you can do so.) Each house has its own “soul” if you will, and if you’ve moved into a home that has been previously occupied, you need to clear out any energies that were left behind by others who lived there. Start by cleaning the house from top to bottom. Open the windows, let some fresh air in, remove dirt, dust, cobwebs. Scrub the floors, bathrooms, the whole thing.

Once the house is clean, send everyone else away, you need to work on your own undisturbed for a while. Find the “center” of the house, which may or may not be the physical center. But look for the “heart” of the house, perhaps the kitchen, or the family room. Have a seat there (on the floor if that works), and just commune with the house for a bit (I know, it sounds silly, but do it anyway.) Close your eyes and see if the house has any messages to send you. Once you’re done, you can start your spiritual clearing.

Clearing can be done with any number of things: smoke from a sage bundle, water sprinkled around, salt, or sound (a bell, Tinshas, or Tibetan bowl works well.) Start at the front door of the house, and moving counter-clockwise through each room, smudge, sprinkle, or ring your chosen clearing element in each corner of each room. As you do so, say prayers for the removal of negative energy, even something simple like “Bad begone, good come in.” Do each room in the house this way, counter-clockwise in each room, counter-clockwise through the whole house. Then return to the center, and say a prayer thanking the house and Spirit/God for help in removing any negative energy.

Once you’ve finished removing the negative energy, do a final walk-through the whole house, this time clockwise, inviting only positive energy into the space.

As well, there are a couple of other things you can do to ensure that no negative energy enters your home. An easy one to do is to put a small flat knife under the front door mat, pointing outwards. This will send negative energy (and people) away, keeping them from harming you.

Another excellent thing to do if you’re dealing with someone who has a specific grudge against you is to create a mirror protection. Simple and easy, all it takes is a small pocket mirror, found at any drugstore or grocery store. Obtain some sea salt (the best to use for clearings of any sort), and wash the mirror with water in which some of the sea salt has been dissolved. Then, holding the mirror in your hand, ask your deity to use the mirror to send any negative thoughts or energy that anyone is sending you, right back to them. Set the mirror in the window of your bedroom, or in a window by the front door, pointing outward. This will deflect any negative energy back to the sender, and often will take you off their radar altogether.

These simple tips can help ensure your environment is safe, and that negative energy can’t enter your home and affect you. In another post I’ll go over how you can protect yourself from negative energy when you’re outside your home, check back later for that update.

I’ve written about Feng Shui before, but was explaining it to some friends, so thought I’d do another post about it today.

As always, I encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in Feng Shui to purchase the wonderful book about Feng Shui Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch Carter. She’s just terrific at making the ancient Chinese system of “Right Placement” easy to understand and giving step by step instructions on how to improve things.

Recent Feng Shui story: I was in Cleveland last weekend, and stayed with younger brother B at his new apartment. As I walked around looking at things from a Feng Shui perspective, I noticed in his Prosperity area, he had stored all his tools. Guess where B just got a job two weeks ago? Home Depot, working in the Tool department.

I laughed and laughed, but was not surprised. I have lots of such stories. It really works. Try it!
Here’s a picture of the Bagua, which is like the map of your living space that you use to improve your life:

The Feng Shui Bagua

To use the Bagua, stand in the front door of your home, and hold the map facing up as shown to the left. So your front door will be in either the: Knowledge, Career, or Helpful People Bagua.

If you want to improve any of the aspects of your life, clean/declutter the area in your house listed in the Bagua. Then add things (these are called “cures”) to the given area in the color shown in the bagua map.

For example, if you want to boost your prosperity (who doesn’t?) add some purple to the back left corner of your home, as seen when standing in the front door. You can add actual items or even pictures of things work too. For example, a photo of a beautiful lake in the Career area would ensure your work life would remain calm and full. While a pic of a waterfall there would encourage movement and change for the better. But be careful, if you put a pic of a desert there, your work might dry up!

Use your imagination, read more about Feng Shui on the Internet, and follow Karen on Facebook, she’s just great.
And feel free to ask questions, either here or on my Facebook page, I love this stuff.

I first came across this expression as a teen, when reading the novels and stories of grand master science fiction writer Robert Heinlein. He (I think) first used the term in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but it could have been earlier, I’m not certain.

I’ve used it for years, but never really thought about the actual derivation until today. So I dug through Google for a bit, and was interested to find that it likely comes from the Hawaiian word for anger.

So, literally translated “No huhū, chela” as RAH used to use it, means “No anger, servant.” Of course, that’s not the way Heinlein intended it. He used the term in the same sort of way as Australians use “No worries, mate.” Meaning, “Don’t sweat it m’dear”, or any similar expression.

But it actually bears further thought. Anger is an incredibly destructive emotion, if held onto. We all feel anger from time to time. Natural and normal. But there are several important things to bear in mind about it though:

  • We can control how we react to the anger we feel.
  • And we can decide to feel it move through us, and then let it go.

I hate it when someone tells me not to feel something. Hello, I can’t control what I feel. I can however, control how I react to what I feel. And that’s the crux of that biscuit. I can choose to express my anger, lash out at someone with it, give tit for tat. Or, I can release it, and let it leave my body.

Anger that is not released is hugely damaging, on several levels. Kept inside it can harm us mentally, spiritually, and even physically. As a lay homeopath, I can see the results of repressed anger in some persons, when this caustic emotion isn’t released one way or another, it works its way out through the body (often through the skin!)

So I try, as Heinlein would encourage me, to have no anger. Interestingly, this is also one of the precepts of the basic motto of Reiki, which reads:

Just for today….. Do not worry
Just for today….. Do not anger (I prefer to think of this as “Have no anger.”)
Just for today…..Honor your parents, teachers, and elders
Just for today…..Earn your living honestly
Just for today…..Show gratitude to every living thing.

The founders of Reiki have the same instruction as Heinlein – have no anger.

Anger has its uses, of course. It can spur us to take action, which otherwise we might not, and cause situations to become clearer that might not otherwise. Expressing your anger can lead to a resolution of the situation which caused it, although sometimes it doesn’t. But if nothing else, by expressing the anger in a way that causes no harm to the person for whom you feel it, you are releasing it so that it won’t cause you harm either. The key is finding such a way.

One of my favorite ways to express my feelings without necessarily sharing them with someone, is to write what I’d like to say down in a letter, on paper, in my own hand (all too often these days I write things on the computer, doing it by hand is interestingly powerful.) Then I take the letter, and rather than send it to the person, I burn it. This small ritual will, nine times out of ten, result in some resolution of the situation, even if it’s only the removal of my anger about it.

Sometimes by letting go, we help ourselves the most. So keep Heinlein’s words in mind the next time you feel yourself getting worked up about something.

“No Huhū”, as in most cases, it’s just not worth it.

I work alone, often by myself with no one but the dogs, Pandora, and the Internet to keep me company throughout the day. And that’s ok, I’m one of those folks who treasures my alone-time. But because of that, I often have time to think about things, turn them this way and that, and look at and into them.

One theme that has been rumbling through my thoughts of late is the concept of ambition. Here in the US, we place great value on ambition, and striving to attain things. For some, Attainment and Achievement rule their lives, and drive them from one project to another. We all know folks like this, the workaholics, the businessman who is in the office six and seven days a week, the doctor who is seldom home, the lawyer who is constantly buried in one book or tract or another.

Some of this behavior is created by society. Doctors are expected to work long hours, ditto lawyers. Business persons (men more than women, even today) are expected to put career first, and strive, strive, strive. Now I want to make clear, I am not taking a poke at working moms here, I’m not saying stay at home moms are better persons than those who work. Such choices are often far more complicated than clear-cut, and I respect every parent’s decision about whether to work or to stay at home with their children.

But the line between home and work has been blurring of late, and with the increasing connectivity made available to us by our cell phones and iPads and laptops, often we’re not really away from “work” even if we are. For some it’s hard to turn that phone off, shut the laptop, because the demands of their particular job means they must be able to be contactable at all times.

But is it healthy?

I have friends and family who work these long hours, heck, as a small businessperson with a new company, I’m just as prone as the next person to work too many days in a row. And as long as it only affects me, I figure a bit of that is ok.

What has been bothering me of late, is the rush to judgement of those who may not adhere to such a lifestyle. Who aren’t plugged into the net 24/7. Who may not, just may not, value the hyper-ambition that our nation seems to hold in such high esteem. We see it all the time; parents who choose to stay at home who are considered to be wasting their college education. People who perhaps have a specific degree, who wind up doing something totally different with their lives. Often such folk are looked down upon by others, who feel they’re not living up to their “potential”, whatever that means.

Where is it written that one must do that thing that one is very good at? I am spectacularly good at digging ditches, but it doesn’t mean I want to do it for work. I have a BFA in Photography from a good university, yet I stayed at home with my kids and instead did newsletters for other people. So what? Does that make me, and people who made choices such as mine lesser persons? I think not.

And where is it written that success in the business world leads to happiness, to personal satisfaction? It generally leads to material wealth, oh yes. But who is to say that the family living in a smaller house, with parents who have more time to spend with their growing children, are less “successful” than those in a huge mansion who don’t eat dinner together even once a week?

There’s a concept of Zen Buddhism called Wabi-Sabi. Now, I’m far from an expert on Buddhism, trust me. But in reading I’ve done of late, wabi-sabi has struck a nerve. Basically, it is the art of finding beauty in the simplicity, imperfection, and profoundness of nature. To live the concept of wabi-sabi is to put down the burden of material striving, and to learn to be satisfied with ourselves as we are.

We Westerners are continually striving to improve ourselves; physically, emotionally; materially. When do we say “enough!”? Why can’t we appreciate just being who we are, without all the striving? Part of the problem is certainly the media, and the completely unrealistic image presented to us and to children on the tv and through movies, video games, and YouTube. Part of it is certainly cultural – we pay our sports stars salaries in the millions, and our teachers get vilified for wanting a decent wage and benefits. It seems so upside down to me, and just doesn’t make sense.

My grandfather taught me many things in my youth, not the least of which was to treat each person with respect and afford them dignity. He could and did talk to anyone, in any walk of life, with the same graciousness and listened with the same attention. It was a powerful lesson indeed. Part of the lesson was not to judge someone on the cut of their clothes, the type of car they drove, or the job they held. He judged people (when he did so at all) by their actions, how they treated others, and what they did with their lives that had a positive effect on others.

In my mind, the person who sacrifices in some way for the benefit of others, has achieved more than those who sacrifice the needs of others in pursuit of some nebulous career goal. That parent who stays home with the kids. The child who cares for an aging parent. That teacher who stays in the classroom. The firefighter who volunteers his time, and risks his life for others. Those are achievements, as far as I am concerned.

And as the expression goes, when you’re on your deathbed, are you really going to wish you spent more time at work? I think not.

I’ve been a Natmed mom for many years now, and am one of the “older moms” in a group of friends who mostly have younger kids (mine are in their late teens.) Often I find myself recommending the same things over and over, so thought I’d write it up here so I can just post a link in the future (lazy git that I am.)

IMO, there is a short list of natural medicine items that no home or family should be without. Herewith:

1. The homeopathic remedy Arnica Montana. Keep it in pill form in several potencies (I like to make “chords”, which I’ll write about later), like 6x, 12c, and 30c if you can find them. I like the meltaway tablets made by Hylands, they’re easiest for kids.

2. Arnica Montana in gel form. It is a must have for any minor trauma that doesn’t involve broken skin/blood. The best thing known to man for preventing and reducing the effects of bruises, just pure magic. See my previous post about the horse who stomped on my foot for more info about the gel.

3. The Bach Flower Essence Rescue Remedy. It comes in drop and spray form, and for kids the spray is much easier to use. Again, perfect for falls, bumps, bruises, bashed fingers, whatever may make a child (or adult!) mentally or emotionally upset. It works on the mind and emotions to remove the fear/angst of whatever traumatic event might have transpired. I used it extensively during the time after my mother’s sudden death, as I had so much to do and needed to put aside my grief for a time so that I could function. It calms and boosts the mind and spirit, and I carry it and Arnica pills in my purse at all times.

4. The homeopathic remedy Apis Mellifluca, fairly specific to bee and insect stings and bites.

5. Tea Tree Oil, which is a natural topical antibiotic (again, not for broken skin) and fungus fighter. Best used diluted, depending on the type you buy, I prefer unscented almond oil to dilute mine, but your mileage may vary, choose a carrier oil that works for you. And please keep it away from small children in its undiluted form, as it can be toxic if ingested.

6. Ginger, either in crystalline form or as a tea. Perfect for upset tummies and safe for pregnant moms.

7. The essential oil Lavender. Wonderful for its calming effect, on man or beast (I used to use it on a horse we had who was very nervous, and it worked a treat.) Great for adding a few drops to a warm bath, or a steamy washcloth, or just in a diffuser.

8. Elderberry tincture or syrup. I posted at length here about the wonders of elderberry, and if I had to pick just one herb to have in the house, this would be the one.

9. Badger Balm Sleep Balm, wonderful stuff for anyone dealing with insomnia who doesn’t want to go the allopathic route and take pills that might make you do weird stuff like “sleep eating.”

10. Last but not least, two great books for any Natmed family’s bookshelf: Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch, and the Family Guide to Homeopathy by Andrew Lockie. You can find them at most bookstores and health food stores.

These are the ten Natmed items I’d stock a first aid kit with. I wouldn’t want to be without these as I go through life, and I recommend them to all.

In her blog Uneasy Pink my good friend Katie posted a link to an enlightening (not in a good way) video and website that I want to share with you all. The site is The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and the video is a pretty cute treatment of a decidedly unsettling subject. The bottom line is, the cosmetics and personal health care products we all use every day contain a myriad of toxic and dangerous chemicals, some of which have never been tested, and a number of which wind up being stored in our bodies forever, having who knows what consequences!

I won’t reiterate the information available on the site and in the video, it’s well worth watching/reading. And I will admit that I’m not going to toss all my cosmetics and personal care products into the garbage this second. But I am going to do some research to find ways to attain the results I’m looking for without becoming a walking talking toxic waste dump. I don’t wear a lot of makeup these days, (living on a farm and doing chores in the Kentucky high heat makes makeup slide right off my face), but when I do, I’m going to look for safer things to wear.

And while I’m past childbearing, my two daughters are not, and this is a strong motivator for me to find things for them to use that will keep them, and my future grandchildren safe. Even things we’d think would be pure and “natural” such as baby shampoos, apparently contain toxic chemicals, which seems wrong on so many levels.

While I’m doing my research (about which I’ll report back here from time to time), I’m going to shop more wisely for personal care products. I found a great card to print out and carry in my purse here at the Environmental Working Group‘s website, where they have a Shoppers Guide to Safe Cosmetics. The EWG has a database where you can plug in items you use, and see them rated according to a “Hazard Score” (see this FAQ for the explanation of how they rate products.) Very enlightening, and somewhat scary. But knowledge is power, and once we know what’s safe and what’s not so much, we can search for alternatives.

I want to thank my friend Katie for kick-starting me on this quest, as a Natmed guru, I should have addressed this issue long ago. Thanks Bug!

More and more scientists are finding links between adequate amounts of sleep and human health on so many levels. A recent article by Newsweek seen here speaks of the myriad problems associated with sleep deprivation. The most surprising thing for me was the statement that “Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania restricted volunteers to less than six hours in bed per night for two weeks. The volunteers perceived only a small increase in sleepiness and thought they were functioning relatively normally. However, formal testing showed that their cognitive abilities and reaction times progressively declined during the two weeks. By the end of the two-week test, they were as impaired as subjects who had been awake continuously for 48 hours.”

Rather astounding really, and somewhat frightening. So many of us in our hurried lives skimp on sleep, and only now is science becoming truly aware of the toll it takes on us. Hormone levels are affected, never in good ways. And there’s a surprising link between lack of sleep and weight gain. Really.

As far back as 2004, USA Today did a story highlighting the link, see it here. Among other things, the studies quoted in the article show “sleep deprivation activates a small part of the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that also is involved in appetite regulation.” Too little sleep, and we find ourselves craving carbs and gaining weight.

And while for some it might take some time to teach ourselves to sleep more, (especially those who suffer from insomnia), for most of us it’s often just a matter of making sleep a priority. Turn off the tv, put down the book, and go to bed early. Get yourself some light blocking curtains, a sound machine, even a sleep mask (as my friend suggests in The Yummy List), go for that Zsa Zsa look! Whatever it takes to get a minimum of 7-9 hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping, two things I’ve used that help are Badger Sleep Balm, and the homeopathic remedy Calms Forte. Both are natural, non-habit forming, and in my experience, really help.

I’ve been working on increasing my sleep time of late, and one of the things that most interests me is that since doing so, I am remembering my dreams, where before I wasn’t. Now, I haven’t done a lot of research yet on the differences between REM and NREM dreaming and their effects on our physiology, but I’m betting if I do, I’ll find a link (more on that in a later post perhaps.) But I can’t help but think that more dreams are a sign that more sleep is A Good Thing. And hey, if it helps me lose some weight, that would be all right too!

So give it a try, you never know how it might help. In this hectic day and age we all too often feel tied to our work/cell phones/email. Set yourself free of those chains, if only at night, and sleep!

A really bad headache can be terribly debilitating. And when they last several days, all you want to do is crawl into bed with the curtains closed and hide from the world. Loud noises, strong smells, any number of things can make them worse.

But the good news is, there are things you can do other than take aspirin or prescription meds to help fix a bad headache. The first thing to try is the two acupressure points used in Chinese Medicine. The first is in the back of your head, the second in the web between the thumb and forefinger. Steady pressure there will cure almost all bad headaches. This website has excellent info and good illustrations of how to apply the points:

http://www.chinese-holistic-health-exercises.com/acupressure-for-relieving-headaches.html

(Note that the hand pressure point should be avoided by those who are pregnant, as it can cause uterine contractions.)

A great aromatherapy option is Peppermint oil, applied to the forehead. Be sure to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil (like almond) to a 10% solution. Studies have shown that this can significantly reduce the severity of headaches within 15 minutes or so (see more about the NIH study.)

Another wonderful remedy is Feverfew tea. I take about an ounce of organic loose leaf herb and pour about a cup of boiling water over it. Let it steep for at least five minutes, as long as ten. Then strain, and sweeten with a bit of honey to taste.

(Feverfew should also be avoided by pregnant women. And as with all herbs, check with your MD before use.)

The energy healing known as Reiki is also a wonderful treatment for headaches, if you can find a practitioner near you, ideally one who will come to your home and treat you, it can work wonders!

And last but not least, if you’re not a big coffee/tea drinker, a good strong cuppa can sometimes do what it takes to break a bad headache. This is a good reason why children and teens should not drink routinely caffeine, as it’s such a great tool to have in your arsenal when they get a bad headache.

Tip of the Day

A ten percent solution of Peppermint essential oil mixed with a neutral carrier oil, applied to the forehead can reduce or eliminate a headache in minutes.

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