Screw-less spine fusion

Have you had surgery? A spine fusion? It has been three weeks since Dr. Nora operated performing a screw-less spine fusion of three discs, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5. This past week I re-engaged the busy world I left behind on August 16th. The two-week retreat seemed like long enough.

A cheer went up at choir practice when I walked in an inch taller and without my usual hiking sticks. The same at church on Sunday. I have had an ear full of “me, too” stories of surgeries, fusions, medications that helped. Nice to be in good company with people who seem to be handling life with gusto after major surgery. Most of these people are younger than I am.You will probably respond to this post with your own stories and I will want to hear them.
Post op people become members of a club of survivors. It is a club I have avoided with vigor for many years.

Since 2004 when my neuro-surgeon, Dr. Stan Herring (sports medicine doc for the Seahawks, Huskies and Mariners) told me my bones were bad and he would never recommend surgery, I’ve been blogging about my efforts to keep moving in spite of a bad spine. Dr. Herring took one look at my MRI and told me a person with my lumbar spine should be in a wheelchair. My first blog was titled www.nowheelchair.wordpress.com, inspired by Dr. Herring’s remarks.

My goal in No Wheelchair and in www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com/be-well/ has been to share my strategies for staying active and relatively pain-free. I looked forward to a “surgery avoidance” club of mutual arthritis sufferers who wanted to avoid medicine and surgery for as long as possible. There are a lot more “post surgery” club members than “surgery avoidance” club members. My question is Why?

I, like many of my readers began life trusting implicitly in the wisdom of doctors and medicines to kept me well and to fix me when something went wrong. I was the obedient daughter of a nurse and an orthopedic surgeon. I took dozens of drugs as a young person to get over the slightest sniffles, headaches and even used Physohex surgery-prep soap when, in puberty, I was covered in pimples. When I was only 34, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy (no chemo or radiation).

As I tried to make sense out of cancer at such a young age, my conclusion, justified or no, was that I had destroyed my immune system by taking all those drugs and that left to its own devices, a healthy body will repair DNA damage and prevent the onset of cancer. All it takes is good nutrition and a positive mindset.

Of course, people who have a lifetime of good nutrition and positive attitude get diagnosed with cancer all the time. No doctor will support the idea that something you did or didn’t do caused you to develop cancer.

We all have our stories. Mine included a changed diet, more exercise on a regular basis and, at age 48, the addition of a supplement program with products made by Shaklee. My health changed and I suffered fewer colds. My arthritis (in the knees in those days) calmed down and I wanted to world to know about my cancer avoidance program.

In 1989 I herniated a disc (L5) and the misery of accident- caused arthritis began. By the time I first saw Dr. Herring in 1990, I was ready to try anything. By 2004 when he saw me again, I’d been to Feldenkrais, Chiropractic, massage, PT, Alexander method, therapeutic pilates, yoga and had several visits with the Polyclinic’s orthopedic PA, Darrin Morrow. Things had gotten worse in my spine but I was hiking regularly including the Wonderland Trail, 95 miles around Mt. Rainier. In 2006, I climbed Mt. Shasta. I seldom missed a Wed. hiking or cross country ski adventure. I was determined to keep moving. I ate handfuls of Shaklee vitamins. My approach seemed to be working for me. No drugs. No surgery.

I’ve had many faithful readers of my blog posts. Some have even tried a few of the suggestions. Making a commitment to consistent (and expensive out-of-pocket) self-care is not common. My guess is that many have read, watched and concluded that I keep on keeping on by dint of some genetic or innate energy. The truth is that I possess a fierce determination to keep visiting the wilderness and moving my body and will do and pay for whatever it takes. I don’t like the way drugs make me feel. I would not have avoided surgery this long without that willingness and the choice of Shaklee for the supplement part of the program.
The most recent MRI in April of this year revealed an even worse spine than before. My physical medicine doctor, Dr. Ren and her PA, Diane, shook their heads when I told them I had walked (with hiking sticks) to the appointment at the Polyclinic from the bus stop at 3rd and Seneca, 8 blocks up hill. My neuro surgeon, Dr. Peter Nora scared me when, during the pre-op appointment, he said he and his colleagues had been discussing my spine and concluded I would be a good candidate for a fairly new procedure. After thinking about this “new procedure” for a couple days, I was full of doubts. Were they experimenting on a fit old lady who has lived a good life? How many procedures like this had Dr. Nora done? What were the results for people like me? A google search revealed no spine fusions without screws. I have osteoporosis so how were they going to fuse bad bones? What were they going to do to my spine?

screw-less spine fusion
screw-less spine fusion from the left side.

A phone call settled me down. Dr. Nora had performed this operation multiple times in the previous two years with excellent results. As a thin and fit 79-year-old, I was a good candidate for a screw-less spine fusion. He entered my body from first one side (two incisions) and then the other (one more incision) to access malfunctioning lumbar discs at 2/3, 3/4 and 4/5. He cleaned out the offending discs and inserted titanium spacers and added a plastic material in the spaces around which new bone of my own making will form a stable scres-less spine fusion.
It worked. No screws. No leg pain.

Recovery from surgery comes with its own suffering. Bowels that don’t work. Incisions that itch and ache. Psoas muscles that won’t work and complain loudly because of being shoved to one side during the titanium insertion process. Learning to grab things too low or too high with a gripper. Wanting to wiggle in bed and having to lie still like a log. Having beautiful good food fixed by someone else sit in front of me and having no appetite.

eucharist8-28-16
Saint Mark’s friends brought Eucharist and music.

Daughters, step-daughters, neighbors, hiking buddies, Saint Mark’s friends, friends from 45 years of living in Seattle have come bringing food, making the bed, sweeping the bathroom floor, drying my legs after a shower, tying my shoes, driving me to the doctor, watering the parched trees and flowers, feeding the cat, and collecting the eggs from the hen house. They have carried the dirty clothes to the laundry and the clean clothes to the clothesline and helped put clean sheets on the bed. My housemate has filled and emptied the dishwasher, taken the recycling out, reached under the bathroom sink for fresh toilet paper, brought in the mail, connected my laptop to the TV so I could watch old shows and Netflix. Friends have called, emailed and sent notes. I am so full of appreciation, of gratitude for the outpouring of prayer and care and of my willingness to graciously receive these offerings. It is a new phase of life. A letting go of the need to control.

I am so full of appreciation, of gratitude for the outpouring of prayer and care and of my willingness to graciously receive these offerings. It is a new phase of life. A letting go of being superwoman, confronting aging as Joseph Campbell observed, the way we might watch an old jalopy fall apart one fender at a time.

In three more weeks I’ll board a plane for Boston and my oldest niece’s wedding. I’ll ask for a wheelchair and check my luggage at the curb. I promise not to lift the suitcase or anything else weighing over 10 pounds for another six weeks. I don’t want to mess up the beautiful thing Dr. Nora did for my body.

I still hope for readers who have a fierce determination to avoid surgery and medication if they can find a way to move comfortably without them. I support anyone who takes full responsibility for their own health and does all they can through alternative therapies and with traditional medicine to work out a plan that will keep them moving comfortably as long as possible. And I wish for each one of us the grace to accept what is as we move toward the end of our lifespan, however long that may be.

Please share your stories of arthritis and/or injury and the ways you have alleviated pain and kept yourself moving.

Be well, do well and keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

206 409 5940

shop for Shaklee products at www.HiHohealth.com

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surgery for arthritis

Gentle Reader,

There comes a time when surgery for arthritis makes sense. I have reached that time. I began blogging at www.NoWheelchair.wordpress.com in 2004, to share strategies a person with arthritis could use to avoid taking medication or having surgery. My posts have been about my own journey to manage increasingly severe osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, and more recently a condition known as listhesis, or the collapsing of vertebra to the left and to the right. As my Feldenkrais practitioner keeps telling me, “You’ve got a complicated spine.”

It has been an interesting process to dedicate this year to a protocol of my own making. I have gone to a physical medicine specialist, Dr. Ren, at the Polyclinic who suggested physical therapy for eight sessions. The PT exercises did nothing to alleviate the weakness in my legs, nor the pain, lovely as it was to show up to the attention of admiring young men twice a week.

I decided to take Dr. Ren’s offer of an injection of steroids in L5 and L4 and I had a good four pain free weeks. With less pain, I was able to pay attention to my gait and realized I was so unstable on my right side that my right hip was swinging out with every step. I decided to go back to Becci Parsons, my Feldenkrais practitioner for help getting symmetrical again. Walking everywhere with hiking sticks helps with symmetry. My strong upper body lifts my weaker legs up and the hiking sticks keep me parallel. They are less for balance than for lifting weight off the collapsed vertebra.

Nerve pain came back after a short time. Dr. Ren thought I might be a good candidate for surgery. Becci has had two operations for very similar conditions so I went to her neurosurgeon, Dr.Peter Nora. Dr. Nora has twenty years of back surgery under his belt. When I met him, I looked at his hands which are small and delicate. A good sign. He put me through the diagnostic paces where you resist pressing your knees together and then apart; your feet in and then out; your knee lifting against pressure; all of which I passed with flying colors. It seemed obvious this 79 year old woman showed no sign of weakness. He tried one last diagnostic tool: I stood against the wall pressing my heals, my back and my head against it. The test: stand for ten minutes in that position. I lasted 5 seconds before my legs gave way.

I so appreciated Dr. Nora’s willingness to listen to my experience. When I stand around for a while, the right leg loses feeling and will not support my weight. Think about when standing around is what we do as humans: hanging out in the kitchen with family while we cook; looking at a painting in the museum; holding a drink at a cocktail party or reception; singing in the choir at church; waiting in line at Starbucks, at the airport, at the bank. All of these scenarios result in weakness and the sensation of getting ready to fall over. Dr. Nora heard me and kept trying moves so he could reproduce my experience in a controlled clinical setting. Thank goodness. I once had an orthopedist kick me out of his office after I told him I walked to Broadway and Madison from the 3rd Ave bus stop, a distance of about a mile, most of it up a steep hill. I was using my sticks so I could do it.

Dr. Nora explained the surgery by showing me the MRI of my spine from the bottom to the top as if you were looking up a tube in which the spinal cord runs. Between L3, L4 and L5, the poor spinal cord disappeared completely. He will carve off the bonein those areas to stop the pinching of the nerves. It could be a big change for the better. Since I have been avoiding surgery for so many years, there is no guarantee all the nerves will come back, but the pain should reduce considerably.

You would think I would get in for surgery for arthritis as quickly as possible. But my calendar is full this summer with harvesting the raspberries (bending, lifting and twisting), camping with family, traveling to Hawaii with a granddaughter and several graduations. The first stretch of time when I could commit to no bending, no twisting and no lifting for a month begins August 16th. So that is when the surgery is scheduled.

In the mean time, Dr. Ren’s Assistant, Diana Ferdana, who calls me pharmaceutically naive, meaning I have little experience with drugs, prescribed Gabapentin. This drug prevents seizures and also blocks nerve pain. Side effects bother me as I am a little loopy, a little sleepy, but the benefit of the smallest possible dose is considerable. I still take Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex to keep other arthritis under control, like my thumbs and fingers and shoulder.  She also gave me an industrial sized back brace which I wear when picking raspberries, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the floor. You get the idea, bending, lifting and twisting.

I still go to the Xgym every week. My trainer has talked to Becci and together they have a workout plan that stabilizes my core while building upper body strength. These exercises don’t ask much from my weak legs other than stability although I am doing controlled lunges with hiking sticks. Staying fit is important when heading for major surgery. The guys at Xgym will help me get back on my feet when the surgery is over.

I am still walking most days although forty minutes to an hour is as long as I can go without sitting down to give my back relief. So no hiking with my group. This is the hardest loss for me as I have been in the wilderness nearly every week since 2004, summer and winter. Happily there are plenty of parks nearby with old growth forest and trails, but there is nothing like deep wilderness. I miss it and my hiking buddies.

I share all this personal experience with the hope that you or someone you know will take heart in their own struggle with arthritis. Don’t give up and sit down. We have to keep moving to avoid further damage and disability. At this point for me, I can do damage by over-doing so I have to learn to listen to the signals that say, enough. Most days at least a mile of walking works. I begin each day with tiny Feldenkrais movements to activate the core, the psoas and the multifidae that go up and down my spine to stabilize it. Just half an hour of that careful “exploration”, as Becci calls it, makes the difference for movement all day.

So, Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.
Feel free to share this. And don’t forget to like me on Face book.

Comments and questions are encouraged.

Betsy

206 933 1889

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sleep and pain

Does pain keep you awake at night? “Sleep, or lack of it, may be a sign that surgery might help.” Dr. Nora listed several indicators including sleep and pain. Sleep difficulty jumped out at me.

Several customers have complained about sleep challenges so I thought I’d share some problems associated with pain and lack of sleep plus some remedies.

When pain is first experienced, most people do not experience sleeplessness. However, when pain becomes a problem, it can be a vicious cycle. If someone experiences poor sleep due to pain one night, he or she is likely to experience more problems the next night and so on. It gets worse and worse every night.

We know that pain triggers poor sleep. Someone experiencing lower back pain may experience several intense phases of light sleep which lead to awakenings. These periods of light sleep are innocuous for a person not experiencing chronic pain. Pain is a serious intrusion to sleep. Pain is frequently associated with insomnia and these coexisting problems can be difficult to treat. One problem can exacerbate the other. pm_general_cp_sleep_intro01

A 2015 sleep and pain study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation verified by numbers which we could have guessed: people with chronic pain are three times more likely to get a bad night’s sleep even though over half of all Americans experienced pain in the last week.
Without a good night’s sleep, one gets grumpy, is less able to function and the perception of ones general health status goes down. Sleep is necessary for healing and restoring every internal organ and without it, health does deteriorate.

We often turn to drugs—both prescription and over the counter, and alcohol to try to get to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests being very intentional about getting adequate sleep by making sleep a priority.

StressPainEffects_NSF_v3*Stop or limit  caffeine consumption.
*Limit alcohol intake, particularly in the evening.
*Use of pain killers and/or sleeping pills are effective, but should be used under the supervision of a physician.
*Practice relaxation techniques , such as deep abdominal breathing.

Personally, I go to bed by the clock, not by my sleepiness. I can get a second wind if I get started on a new project—web search, emails, Face book—in the late evening which keeps me up. I know I will wake up at 5:30 so aim for head-on-the-pillow by 10:30. Seven hours of sleep. When I wake up at 5:30, I usually listen to soothing music or a meditation tape, a Nidra Yoga or Back Pain relief to stay in bed until 6:15 or so. I sit in the hot tub every night just before going to bed. Some people take a hot shogentle sleep complexwer or bath to aid the transition to sleep.

Shaklee makes an herbal supplement called Gentle Sleep Complex which has passion flower extract and chamomile extract plus 225 mg of Valerian. Three tablets before bed helps you go to sleep.

I take several Pain Relief Complex tablets, also. I put Shaklee’s Joint and Muscle Pain Cream on my lower back and then lie with an ice pack under the my back while I listen to a meditation tape.

What have you found that helps with 7 – 9 hours of deep pain & Muscle Pain Creamrestful sleep? Please add your comments so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Be well, Do well and Keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.HiHoHealth.com for shopping

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com for travel stories

www.MyLifeasFiction.com for my writing blog (not live yet)

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Cortisone for Sciatica

Gentle Reader,
Sciatica, sciatica, sciatica.  On every hand I hear people complaining about sciatic pain, drop foot, back difficulties and arthritis in general.  I have had more acute sciatic pain plus a long stretch of time at home (no travel plans until July) so I decided to try cortisone for sciatica.  I first focussed on discovering the cause.  What would a medically trained physician have to say about my condition?

Cortisone for sciatica injection
Cortisone for sciatica injection

I imagine most people begin in the doctor’s office.  You, who read my posts, may be among those who seek alternative care first.  I have done Feldenkrais, Deep tissue sports massage, private pilates, Myofascial Release, Raiki, Alexander, Therapeutic Yoga, chiropractic, Physical Therapy—what am I forgetting?  Ah, yes, my wonderful team at the Xgym, half the time and twice the results.  Personal trainers who tailor my 25 minute workout to build upper body, leg and core strength while protecting my back.
My first injury happened in 1989 with a major exacerbation in 1992.  Back then I did all the above and my doctor of choice was Stan Herring, a neurosurgeon who now limits his practice to the University of Washington Huskies and the Sea Hawks.  He’s the doctor who looked at my x-rays and a later MRI and asked if I’d come in a wheelchair.  “Get strong, Betsy.  Your bones are no good for surgery so get strong.”
If you know me and see me on Face book, you know that is exactly what I have been doing.  Weekly hiking, daily walking up and down the hills of West Seattle, long walks in exotic places in the off season, cross country skiing and snow shoeing when we have snow in our Cascades.
The sciatic has gotten progressively worse affecting my right leg and causing numbness and sometimes extreme pain.  I put myself under the care of Dr. Ren at the Polyclinic. She is a physical medicine doctor who specializes in keeping people moving who suffer from back related problems (among other things).  She confirmed that I have extreme spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis, two herniated disks at L4 and L5.  She sent me to physical therapy for eight session.  As has been true with previous visits to PT’s, I had fun with those young specialists and enjoyed their stretching, icing and exercises, but nothing beneficial came of it.  In fact, the gross motor activities prescribed may have made my condition worse.
Next step was to get the shot of cortisone for sciatica in the L5 area where the narrowing is so small, it’s a wonder any nerve impulses get through at all.  I’ve been scheduled for this procedure three previous times and canceled each time.  I wasn’t ready.  Dr. Ren did a fabulous job.  Her needle found the spot producing an electric shock that sprung my leg all the way to my two middle toes to life with a jerk.  After I caught my breath, I congratulated her.
The first day I felt wonderful and so moved stuff around in the garage.  Stupid.  Without the pain, I realized my gait was completely cattywampus—right hip collapsing with each step, left leg struggling to hold me up.  Something whispered to me, “Go back to Becci Parsons and let her healing hands remind you how to stand and walk and sit and roll over.”  Becci is the Feldenkrais therapist who got me back on my feet after the herniation so many years ago.  She is a former dancer and has the same “keep moving” spirit I have.  She has suffered from a similar herniation and has ended up with surgery.  She can move fluidly with nearly equal strength on both sides (her right side has some weakness and lack of nerve response when her foot gets caught).
Becci, after three session, has me sitting on my sits bones with a nature curve in my lower spine, pressing one heal to the floor on the exhaling breath while lifting the right heal ever so slightly.  I am paying attention to the distance between my arm pit and my hips on both sides, keeping that distance equal.  I am paying attention to every muscle group that tries to help lift that right heal.  Tiny movements with laser focus to re-pattern the injured nerves and muscles.  She checked out my gait with the hiking sticks and said it was remarkable how my shoulders remained even, my right side did not collapse and my left hip didn’t swing out.  That decision on my part to walk everywhere with hiking sticks was the best self care for my condition.  It gets me a seat on a crowded bus, too.
I have an appointment for a new MRI although Dr. Ren’s assistant Diana didn’t see how the stenosis could have gotten any worse.  Then I will have a surgery consultation with Becci’s neurosurgeon.  I hope I don’t have to go there, but I am willing if it would help me gain real strength on my right side.

pain free from cortisone injection for sciatica
Hiking sultan canyon trail off hwy 2 in the North Cascades

The blessing is not being in pain.  I stopped taking Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex which inhibit the pain path without any side effects.  Low and behold, other arthritis pain showed up in my hands.  I don’t hike as far as the other members of my gang of hikers, but I am strong enough to lead the pack and am pain free.  My hiking friends have been solicitous, gradually increasing the length and the elevation gain.  Last week and next will be 700 ft of altitude gain and six miles round trip (Boulder Creek trail of Hwy 530).  I know it well and there are places to stop if I need to let the others go on.
There is something about spending a day in the wilderness every week that keeps my spirit soaring and my sense of well being strong.  I’ve mentioned before that our gang has scouted out wheel chair accessible wilderness walks for that time in the future when one of us can’t walk.  So far, I don’t need to be pushed.
I share my pain, suffering and healing stories in case they resonate with something you are going through, or someone you know.  If you have any interest in connecting with any of the practitioners I have used, please follow the hot links to them.  If you are interested in trying the supplements and dietary changes that have been so helpful to me, please check out this post in particular.  If you have questions or comments from your own experience, I and my readers would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading,
Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,
Betsy
206 933 1889

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Physical Therapy

This article is part of a series of posts I have written about various therapies that may be helpful to relieve suffering due to arthritis.

Physical Therapy has not been high on my list of therapies helpful to relieve sciatica.  However, pain up and down my right leg emanating from pinched nerves at L5 and L4 sent me back to the Physical Medicine doctor at my HMO, the Polyclinic here in Seattle.   Dr. Ren recommended the Physiotherapy Associates at Greenlake.  Eight sessions later, I still have pain, but I am stronger and less fearful.

Perhaps you have had similar responses to pain.  When you hurt every time you walk a couple blocks, pretty soon, you stop walking altogether.  When that happened to me, I stumbled on Tarama Gillest, Therapeutic Yoga instructor and owner of Bend n Move.  In four sessions with her, I learned to manage my anticipation of pain with deep breathing and a series of body loosening and strengthening moves.  I got out my sticks and took them everywhere so when the pain came, I have help.  The hiking sticks help me lift my body with my arms, taking the pressure off my back.

 

In spite of this therapeutic intervention, I still experienced increased weakness in the right leg. This is where Physical Therapy came in.  Two things to tell you about Physical Therapy with Physiotherapy Associates.

 

1. the exercises and stretching moves they employed did not increase pain.  In fact, the opposite.  Several of their stretches and exercises were ones I feared because they mirrored the actions that have caused pain in the past, such as the doggy leg lift when on all fours.  In the controlled environment at the Physical Therapy office, I have been able to do leg lifts, strengthen the ham string without fear.  Fear of pain is one of the problems that keeps us from moving.

 

2. Repetition increased strength.  Do you know how many reps these guys make you do?  15 to 20 with each leg, twice or three times.  You have to increase strength with that kind of workout.

 

They always end with icing and a ten minute rest.  I recommend this PT experience for anyone who is struggling with the results of arthritis.

 

Finally, the therapist and my personal trainer talked to discuss my strength training at Xgym, so I have a tailored program to keep the upper body strong while I am working on the muscles and tendons and nerves below the waist.

 

The experience that pushed me over the edge was cross country skiing last week.  The pain was so great, I had to stop after 2 hours and sit in the car while my companions enjoyed another hour and a half of skiing.  I decided to follow the advice of my skiing/hiking buddy’s husband.  I am going to see an orthopedist who specializes in a mildly invasive surgery to clean out the spinal stenosis bone growths.  The real culprit is a narrowing of the spinal opening.  If he can help, he will.  If he looks at my MRI and decides he can’t help…….. well, I will have to continue doing the things I am doing in order to get into the wilderness and hike or ski the trails.

 

Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex is helpful.  I still recommend it.  You can take lots without hurting your stomach, and by that I mean, 4 – 10 a day.

 

Wish me luck.   Betsy

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving.  Above all else, Keep moving.

 

Betsy

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving, Betsy

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Therapeutic Yoga

Therapeutic Yoga

therapeutic yoga breathing
therapeutic yoga breathing, thanks to Kandis Twa

 

This past November I dashed late into a networking event at a new-ish yoga studio in my neighborhood-walking distance from my house.  BendnMove owner Tamara Gillest introduced me around.  The health care providers offering their services were familiar to me, members of a Business Networking International chapter here in West Seattle.  It felt like coming home to a room full of caring practitioners; a chiropractor, a vendor of the Smovey and Nordic walking poles, a life coach and personal trainer, a massage therapist among others.  I knew I’d been led to this event and was open to what was offered.

Therapeutic Yoga.  I asked Tamara what that might be.  I have studied yoga for years and have a morning practice.  Over the last few months, walking any distance at all has been challenging because I never know when the sciatic pain will begin.  It is a pain that makes me cry out and wonder if I can make it home.  I remember once walking to the hardware store about a mile away and setting out for the return trip with a cloth bag full of six bedding plants.  That much weight proved too hard to carry.  I set the bag behind a picket fence and limped home to get the car, worried that someone would steal my bag.  Of course, this is West Seattle’s Genesee hill and the bag was untouched.

Every time I left home, I experienced breath-shortening anxiety in anticipation of pain.  I realized I wasn’t walking every day out of fear of pain.  Perhaps Therapeutic Yoga could help with that anxiety.

I signed up for 4 sessions.  Tamara sized me up and gave me a series of gentle stretches, hip opening, core strengthening moves to practice.  Most importantly, she refocused my yoga breathing to help with the anxiety.  It has made such a difference to practice deep breathing, to remind myself to initiate every move with the breath, and to build confidence in my legs and back and core again.  I always take my sticks with me to give support when the pain hits.  I’m back to 30 minutes of walking every day.

A google search for yoga poses to help with sciatica resulted in poses that are far too advanced for the level of challenge I have.  Perhaps it is my age.  At 78, it is not a good idea to twist into a pretzel even though I am strong enough to do this.  Tamara’s approach is gentle, breath-centered, calming-the very approach I need to help me slow down, relax into movement.  If you have suffered chronic pain, you know how difficult it is to manage your thinking about an activity you are about to try.  If you know it causes pain, you tense up or you may decide not to bother trying at all.

 

The last thing I want is to stop moving.  I would lose all the benefits of moving that I have mentioned in post after post.  Muscle tone weakens; blood flow to the joints slows down; lungs long for fresh air and deep breathing; stiffness sets in.  We must keep moving to stay vibrant.  Anticipating pain can keep us from setting out.  My pain is diminishing ever so slightly and I am able to step out of the house with my sticks and walk for 30 minutes, breathing into the pain, keeping my breaths long and deep and calming.

Here’s what Tamara has to say her Therapeutic Yoga teaching 

Yoga therapy provides high quality and skilled therapeutic application of yoga.  The education and skills required to work as a yoga therapist surpass those of the average yoga teacher, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of anatomy, physiology and psycho-spirituality from both the eastern and western traditions.  Yoga therapy is a highly personalized experience that focuses on your specific condition and needs.  It offers a means for safe, personal healing to people living with chronic pain or illness.  You can expect a tailored program unique to you that incorporates breath, movement and meditation. Individual yoga therapy is ideal for those with special needs or conditions, who prefer a slower-paced program and a one-on-one setting. 

 Does yoga therapy replace other treatment modalities?

 Yoga therapy is leading edge and uses yoga as a complementary treatment to traditional medical healing practices. Based on on-going treatment studies, these weekly sessions are ideal for those with chronic lower back pain, neck pain and auto-immune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, among many chronic conditions.

Thank you, Tamara and Therapeutic Yoga.

Comments?  Thoughts?

 

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

www.HiHoHealth.com  Shaklee product shopping site

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com tails of travel, most recently Mexico

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Heal Back Pain

new purse cropped
This new purse holds my hiking sticks. The new normal: carry sticks when I leave the house walking anywhere.

Heal Back Pain

I struck gold when mining my magazine and journal basket in the bathroom recently. In a 2011 issue (January) of Seattle Woman Magazine, Nancy Shatz Aton gives us 10 ways to heal back pain. This excellent list comes from her book, The Healthy Back Book: A Guide to Whole Healing for Outdoor Enthusiasts and Other Active People. It’s a book on my wish list, for sure. Here are her 10 suggestions with my comments. Put this away somewhere handy for when you need it, or put the suggestions to use right now.

Most Americans suffer back pain at least once during their life time and some of us develop chronic lower back pain conditions that give us grief on a regular basis. That would include me. I am so happy I saved and now found Nancy Alton’s tips for managing this pain.

 

  1. Take charge of your healing. Although working with a knowledgeable practitioner who discusses every aspect of an injury can be helpful, it is important to realize you are in charge of your own healing. Whether you experience back pain daily or only a few times a year, living with it is about self-management. This is the premise of my GrandmaBetsyBell blog: self-care. Picture the various types of therapies available to you as spokes of a wheel. Imagine yourself as standing on the hub of that wheel. You can select any combination of therapies, or spokes, from that big wheel.

 

  1. Tune into the mind-body connection. I find it interesting that this is her #2. Becoming self-aware is key. Pain has a physical component, but it also derives from our emotions. We tell ourselves a “story” about why we have low-back pain. We sometimes ignore the emotional side of the tale, But thinking that way overlooks the powerful role emotions play in the story of pain. Both the rational explanation and the emotional component are part of the mind-body connection; that is, how our minds and the emotions, thoughts and feelings emanating from them affect our bodies. “Like all experiences, pain is influenced by everything that is going on in a person’s life at the time, and probably everything that has gone on in the past,” says Dr. J. David Sinclair, a pain-management specialist in Seattle.
  2. Move often. Keep Moving! It is ideal to exercise your body every day. Of course, after a back injury you’ll need your doctor’s OK before you begin exercising. Resume normal activities and movement patterns as soon as possible; moving your body leads to healing. A 1996 health campaign in Australia erected billboards and produced radio and television spots with messages such as, “Does your back hurt? Get up and take a walk.” And “Back pain—don’t take it lying down.” The campaign conveyed the message that engaging in the daily activities of life is often the best treatment for back pain. During and directly after the campaign, the rate of medical payments for back claims fell more than 25 percent!

 

  1. Find a good rehabilitation specialist. When your back goes out, often the first person you call is your primary care doctor. Next time, you might want to try booking an appointment with a physiatrist (fi-see-a-trist) as well. My primary doc. sent me to Dr. Ren, a physiatrist, or Sports medicine doctor. Way more useful than a referral to the orthopedist. Dr. Ren urged me to walk 30 minutes every day, with hiking sticks, if necessary. No sitting down because of the pain from sciatica. Keep walking. She offered me hard drugs, but so far I’ve been able to get by with the Shaklee Pain Relief. She encouraged me to change from Aleve to Tylenol which I think will be good for my stomach. More than 3 Aleve a day made me sick to my stomach.

 

 

A physiatrist is a specialist in treating illnesses and injuries that affect how people move their bodies, and ae especially well qualified to deal with back injuries. Physiatrist believe in educating patients about their conditions and helping people understand that movement is an important tool for easing low-back pain.

 

  1. Try out different bodywork treatments. Hands-on therapies can be incredibly healing. Adding one or more of these complementary practices to your medical care might promote healing, ease pain and contribute to a sense of wholeness. More than 80 types of therapies fall within the category of massage, from Swedish massage to RuiNa. It’s worth finding a well-recommended practitioner and looking into unfamiliar bodywork therapies. Your road to healing may begin with an appointment with a bodywork practitioner. Have you thought about trying Bowenwork, Rolfing, Heller work structural integration, hypnotherapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy or acupuncture?

 

  1. Strengthen Muscles. Back injuries often stem from muscular imbalances. This is why practicing yoga or Pilates can be so beneficial for both easing back pain and preventing future back pain episodes. Both yoga and Pilates help develop a person’s core strength, which includes the abdominal, pelvic floor, buttocks, hip and lower back muscles. During class, you strengthen these muscles, build muscular endurance and learn how to initiate movement from the core area. The way you move on the mat will begin to carry over into your daily life, which can correct poor postural traits and eliminate the corresponding low-back pain. Two other movement therapy practices that have proven successful in easing and healing low-back pain are the Feldenkrais Method and the Alexander Technique. I have posted my recommendations and experience with Myo fascial release therapy, Feldenkrais and Pilates for low back pain.

 

The caveat here is you will be paying for these therapies out of pocket in almost all health insurance plans and it is expensive. I just began a 4 week course with a therapeutic yoga specialist and see results already. Four weeks cost $150. Every Myo facial release session with Cedron Sterling costs $160 for 90 minutes. His work has made a huge difference and certainly worth the expense. Most of us cannot afford these wonderful therapies that keep us out of the orthopedist’s surgery theater.

 

 

  1. Mediate. Practicing meditation can help bring relief to back pain. Mindfulness meditation had numerous benefits for the chronic back pain sufferers who took part in an eight-week study reported in Pain in 2008. These patients experienced less pain, improved physical function, pain acceptance and better sleep. Meditation can be any activity that elicits the relaxation response in a person, which simply means your body calms down, lowering metabolism, blood pressure, heart and breathing rates. Forms of meditation include the relaxation response, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, tai chi, repetitive prayer and walking meditation. Practicing any movement therapy that has you focus on your breathing while moving your body with intention can be a meditative experience.

 

  1. Watch what you eat. Inflammation often causes pain and swelling. You can modulate your body’s inflammatory response system through diet. Through simple changes, you can decrease your likelihood of generating an overly high inflammatory response during a back pain episode. To decrease inflammation in your body, include the following foods in your diet: cold-water fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high fiber foods and water. The following food can increase inflammation, so minimize these food types in your meal plan: red meat and high-fat dairy products, sugar white food, flavored drink and highly processed foods.

 

I have posted an extensive commentary on foods that reduce inflammation. The best of these posts is here.

 

  1. If it involves a disk, be patient. Disk herniations heal without surgery more than 85% of the time and several studies have shown that after two years, people who have had surgery and people who have not had surgery recovered at equivalent rates. If you feel your back pain stems from a herniated disk or disks, try all avenues of noon-operative care. “Probably upwards of 40 percent of people who eventually get surgery aren’t happy with it in the end,” says family physician Sarah J. D’Heilly, MD.

 

My original injury involved a herniation at L5. It is much less protruded now and had pretty much healed, although that is the place here the sciatica pain originates.

 

  1. Keep trying. Sometimes a doctor or a practice might not be the right fit for your low-back problem. If you try a therapy or new practitioner and don’t find any relief or see any progress after a handful of sessions, it might be time to move on. This can be discouraging. Still, it is worthwhile to try new paths to healing, whether that means trying a different bodywork technique or Pilates or talking to your back specialist about other options. It is also helpful to think about the term healing, which isn’t defined by a cure. There isn’t always a cure for low-back pain, but you can begin to see yourself as a whole person with low-back pain. Healing might mean learning self-care methods to alleviate your pain, practicing yoga a few times a week, seeing your doctor as needed and living your daily life a fully as possible.

 

My new normal is never leaving the house to walk anywhere without my hiking sticks. Sometimes I don’t need them. But it lowers my anxiety and allows me to keep walking when I have them with me. I recently bought a new purse that holds the folded sticks. I can look relatively sheik going to the opera with this purse, don’t you think?

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving.

 

Betsy

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walking improves brain health

Gentle Reader,

 

To my delight, my signature byline, Be Well, Do Well and Keep moving, points as much to brain health as managing arthritis. Recent studies show that walking improves brain health.

 

In August 2010, Live Science reported on a study involving a group of “Professional Couch-Potatoes.” This is what one researcher called the 69 adults, aged 59 – 80, who were sedentary before entering the study. I mean sedentary: they reported exercising no more than twice in the previous six months. The study compared this group of inactive people with thirty-two 18 – 35 year olds.

Couch potato
Couch potato

 

The result? Walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits and combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

The goal was not to study specific brain function, but to study connectivity. “Almost nothing in the brain gets done by one area; it’s more of a circuit,” study researcher Art Kramer, psychology professor at the University of Illinois, said in a statement. “These networks can become more or less connected. In general, as we get older, they become less connected, so we were interested in the effects of fitness on connectivity of brain networks that show the most dysfunction with age.”

Previous studies showed a loss of coordination in the DMN (Default Mode Network) when a person is least engaged with the outside world either passively observing something or simply daydreaming. This networking failure is a common symptom of aging and in extreme cases can be a marker of disease, study researcher Michelle Voss said.

DMNPeople with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have less activity in this network and they tend to have less connectivity, Voss said. Low connectivity means that the different parts of the circuit are not operating in sync. Like poorly trained athletes on a rowing team, the brain regions that make up the circuit lack coordination and so do not function at optimal efficiency or speed.

In a healthy, young brain, activity in the DMN quickly diminishes when a person engages in an activity that requires focus on the external environment. Older people, people with Alzheimer’s disease and those who are schizophrenic have more difficulty “down-regulating” the DMN so that other brain networks can come to the fore, Kramer said.

In this study by Kramer, Voss and their colleagues, they found that older adults who are more fit tend to have better connectivity in specific regions of the DMN than their sedentary peers. Those with more connectivity in the DMN also tend to be better at planning, prioritizing, strategizing and multi-tasking.

Just by walking three times a week for 40 minutes, DMN connectivity was significantly improved in the brains of the older walkers, but not in the stretching and toning group, the researchers report.

If you have friends or relatives who sit around with the remote, tell them about this study and see if they would be willing to get out and walk. It could make a big difference.

One Way to Ward Off Alzheimer’s: Take a Hikeold people walking

The study began with 299 dementia-free participants, ages 70 to 90, in 1989. Researchers measured how many blocks they walked per week and, at 9 and 13 years after the initial examination, scientists assessed them with high-resolution magnetic resonance imagining (MRI).

In a final evaluation,116 of these people were diagnosed with dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, while 169 (excluding those deceased prior to the follow-up) remained free of these conditions.

No one has taken a snap shot of an elderly group and followed them over time prior to this study. The participants agreed to walk at least one mile per day. Erickson’s study found that walking at least one mile per day significantly enhanced the volume of several regions of the brain, including the frontal lobe, which is involved in reasoning and problem-solving.

The researchers also found people who walked that distance reduced their risk of cognitive impairment by about half. However, walking more than one mile every day did not further improve brain volume.

We don’t need to do much, but we do need to do something, every day. In my recent visit with the Sports Medicine doctor, she dissuaded me from getting a cortisone shot for my sciatic pain. She gave me some new stretches and said, “Walk 30 minutes every day without fail. It’s the best medicine.”

If my pain is acute, I leave home with walking sticks.

Walking sticks ease the pain.
Walking sticks ease the pain.

Before long, the pain eases up.  BTW, I also take several of Shaklee’s Pain Relieve Complex herbal tablets during the day, depending on how bad the pain is.

It looks as though this advice is helping my brain as well as my joints.

Join me!

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.hihohealth.com  shopping for Shaklee

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com  for travel suggestions and reflections

 

 

 

 

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Annual Physical

Gentle Reader,

 

My intention is to have my annual physical coincide with my birthday in early August. Travel and the rule that 365 days must pass before the insurance company will pay for another wellness check-up have pushed this forward. We are in early October, and I have been parading to not one primary care physician, but a total of five medical practitioners who administer their tests and make a judgment as to how I am doing.

 

I notice that I am invested in the outcomes.  These are the Gold Stars I work for when I eat kale, carrots, beets in my Shaklee powered protein shake each morning; when I submit to the torture of the trainers at the Xgym each week; when I sit quietly to calm my mind and body; when I climb trails full of roots and rocks; when I stop in the middle of a writing passage to get enough sleep each night so I can do it again the next day.

 

The practice of gratitude moment by moment eases the intensity of this competitive attitude toward life, but I admit I have been working to outrun illness and death.  And crave and expect thunderous applause for winning the race.  How ridiculous. No one gets out alive, not even me.

 

Seventy eight is humbling me.  I notice that I chose sitting in the back garden instead of taking that pain-causing walk around the neighborhood.  I notice that I sleep in on Mondays, finding longer hours in bed delicious after a too busy weekend. I notice that I put my glasses on immediately upon rising because it is too fuzzy to walk around my familiar setting without them.

 

I carry a flashlight in my pocket when I go to the hot tub at night because my eyes don’t adjust to the darkness sufficiently for my safety.

 

I notice I go without a hat just to feel the wind in my hair, ignoring the genetic abnormality may result in melanoma.

 

I accept that I have lost another half inch in height, that my HDL/LDL ratio is not as good as last year; that my bone density did not improve as a result of intense weight bearing exercise; that I need to go home to put in my hearing aids (which I forgot last Sunday) if I want to hear the proceedings of the meetings and the family dinner party; that I must carry my hiking sticks with me every time I go out, because I never know when the sciatica will make one more step without them unbearable.

 

The results of my annual physical come in.  None of my doctors is worried about me.  Internal medicine finds me better than average.  Dermatology burns off a few pre-cancerous spots on my face and affirms my overall skin health.  Audiologist declares my hearing loss is increasing less than might be expected.  The bone people say I am still losing bone as you would expect at my age but not bad enough for medication.  The diagnosis is osteoporosis.  They ask, “Did you fall this past year?”  I crashed heavily on the way down the rocky trail from Lake Twenty Two this past spring. The scar where I tore the skin on my arm is still visible, but I didn’t break anything.  “Stay strong,” they say.  I don’t get a fight when I decline the flu shot.  I accept the new pneumonia vaccine.  My upper respiratory system is vulnerable.  I’ve had pneumonia twice in the last five years.

 

Someone in my circle of friends and acquaintances appears in a draped box on the altar every other week. I join the still living to sing the hymns and repeat the promises of eternal life.  I look into the eyes of the spouse (I didn’t know her well enough to interpret her stoicism) and imagine the final weeks and days and hours of suffering and grieving.  I remember my own two husbands and their dying.  I was the strong one, holding everything together.  Now I picture myself in their places.

 

Recently I finished reading the August issue of The Sun Magazine in which the lead interview gives Stephen Jenkinson, the Griefwalker, the opportunity to talk with us about dying.  The default manner of death was for the dying person to endure — to not die — for as long as possible.

 

Health, Jenkinson says, is not the absence of disease or hardship or brokenness. Health includes all of that. It includes dying.

 

I have no intention of adopting a morbid fatalism going forward in my seventy-ninth year.  I do intend to stop striving for Gold Stars.  Numbers on the MyChart read out may neither discourage me nor encourage me.  They just are.  I will pay more attention to the pleasures of the moment, and less to accomplishments.  Like two weeks ago when hiking betsy Green MtGreen Mountain, one of my favorites in the North Cascades.  It has been inaccessible for eight years due to a road wash out.  It wasn’t in me to climb to the top, so my companions went on up the autumn patch work quilt of color to the newly strengthened fire lookout.  I lay on the heather, alternating watching their progress through my binoculars and dozing off in the autumn sun, relishing the quiet, the beauty, the privilege of being in  this remote place one more time.  I was happy.

 

Jenkinson describes the healthy life as a tripod: In the dominant North American culture we talk about health as a possession, something you have and are responsible for maintaining. But I see our health as like a tripod, a dynamic thing: One leg is your relationship with all other human beings. It’s not possible for you to be healthy when there are people living under a freeway overpass in cardboard boxes. Your health is dependent on theirs. The second leg is your relationship with all in the world that’s not human. If you have only these two legs, you can try to live a good life, but it’s like walking on stilts. The third leg is what gives you a place to rest, and that leg is your relationship with the unseen world, everything not described by the other two. Having all three constitutes health. That’s where it lives. This tripod sustains you. You don’t exist as an individual without these relationships.

 

This is the kind of health I intend to cultivate.  The awareness of relationships.  The holding all those friends who no longer climb on physical legs.  The awareness and pleasure of my slow (or sudden) progress toward the rest I will share with them.

 

Thoughts on aging?  I’d love to hear them. Let us cultivate an attitude toward health that embraces death, a giving back of ourselves to the Earth.

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving,

 

Betsy

www.HiHoHealth.com  shopping for Shaklee

www.EmpoweredGrandma.com  travel blog

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GMO dangers

Take the quiz and then let’s talk about the GMO dangers in foods and how risky they are for our health.

I often hear from friends, family and customers that organic foods—fresh and packaged—are too expensive. The hype has overwhelmed and deadened response. Too much fear and awfulness in the world. Too many decisions to make. We have lulled ourselves into thinking those beautiful apples can’t be bad for us and they are so much cheaper than the NON-GMO apples. Maybe it won’t matter.

When it comes to the truth behind genetically modified food, there’s a lot of misleading information out there – so EWG decided to set the record straight. Take the quiz to see how much you really know about GMOs.

May I remind us all of the facts? This information comes from the Center for Responsible Technology.  For pages of notes referencing the studies, go to the end of the article.

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in majororgans and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid GM foods.[1]

Starting in 1996, Americans have been eating genetically modified (GM) ingredients in most processed foods. Why isn’t the FDA protecting us?

In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration claimed they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods. Therefore they are safe to eat, and absolutely no safety studies were required. But internal memos made public by a lawsuit[2] reveal that their position was staged by political appointees who were under orders from the White House to promote GMOs. In addition, the FDA official in charge of creating this policy was Michael Taylor, the former attorney for Monsanto, the largest biotech company, and later their vice president.

In reality, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable,
hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.

Today, the same biotech companies who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products are in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe. Industry-funded GMO safety studies are too superficial to find most of the potential dangers, and their voluntary consultations with the FDA are widely criticized as a meaningless façade.[3]

GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola, have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. The inserted genes come from species, such as bacteria and viruses, which have never been in the human food supply.

Genetic engineering transfers genes across natural species barriers. It uses imprecise laboratory techniques that bear no resemblance to natural breeding, and is based on outdated concepts of how genes and cells work.[4] Gene insertion is done either by shooting genes from a “gene gun” into a plate of cells or by using bacteria to invade the cell with foreign DNA. The altered cell is then cloned into a plant.

Widespread, unpredictable changes

The genetic engineering process creates massive collateral damage, causing mutations in
hundreds or thousands of locations throughout the plant’s DNA.[5] Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their behavior.[6] Even the inserted gene can be damaged or rearranged,[7] and may create proteins that can trigger allergies or promote disease.

GM foods on the market

There are eight GM food crops. The five major varieties—soy, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beets—have bacterial genes inserted, which allow the plants to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer. Farmers use considerably more herbicides on these GM crops and so the food has higher herbicide residues. About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant.

The second GM trait is a built-in pesticide, found in GM corn and cotton. A gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) is inserted into the plant’s DNA, where it secretes the insect-killing Bt-toxin in every cell. About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide. Another 13% produce a pesticide and are herbicide tolerant.

There is also Hawaiian papaya and a small amount of zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, which are engineered to resist a plant virus.

Growing evidence of harm from GMOs

GM soy and allergic reactions

  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced.[8]
  • A skin prick allergy test shows that some people react to GM soy, but not to wild natural soy.[9]
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen.[10]
  • GM soy also contains a new unexpected allergen, not found in wild natural soy.[11]

Bt corn and cotton linked to allergies

The biotech industry claims that Bt-toxin is harmless to humans and mammals because the natural bacteria version has been used as a spray by farmers for years. In reality, hundreds of people exposed to Bt spray had allergic-type symptoms,[12] and mice fed Bt had powerful immune responses[13] and damaged intestines.[14] Moreover, the Bt in GM crops is designed to be more toxic than the natural spray and is thousands of times more concentrated.

Farm workers throughout India are getting the same allergic reactions from handling Bt cotton[15] as those who reacted to Bt spray.[16] Mice[17] and rats[18] fed Bt corn also showed immune responses.

GMOs may make you allergic to non-GM foods

  • GM soy drastically reduces digestive enzymes in mice.[21] If it also impairs your digestion, you may become sensitive and allergic to a variety of foods.
  • Mice fed Bt-toxin started having immune reactions to formerly harmless foods.[22]
  • Mice fed experimental GM peas also started reacting to a range of other foods.[23] (The peas had already passed all the allergy tests normally done before a GMO gets on the market. Only this advanced test, which is never used on the GMOs we eat, revealed that the peas could actually be deadly.)

GMOs and liver problems

  • Rats fed GM potatoes had smaller, partially atrophied livers.[24]
  • The livers of rats fed GM canola were 12-16% heavier.[25]
  • GM soy altered mouse liver cells in ways that suggest a toxic insult.[26] The changes reversed after they switched to non-GM soy.[27]

GMOs, reproductive problems, and infant mortality

  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks.[28]
  • Male rats[29] and mice[30] fed GM soy had changed testicles, including altered young sperm cells in the mice.
  • The DNA of mouse embryos functioned differently when their parents ate GM soy[31]
  • The longer mice were fed GM corn, the less babies they had, and the smaller their babies were.[32]
  • Babies of female rats fed GM soy were considerably smaller, and more than half died within three weeks (compared to 10% of the non-GM soy controls).[33]
  • Female rats fed GM soy showed changes in their ovaries and uterus.
  • By the third generation, most hamsters fed GM soy were unable to have babies.

Bt crops linked to sterility, disease, and death

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants after harvest. Others suffered poor health and reproductive problems.[34]
  • Farmers in Europe and Asia say that cows, water buffaloes, chickens, and horses died from eating Bt corn varieties.[35]
  • About two dozen US farmers report that Bt corn varieties caused widespread sterility in pigs or cows.[36]
  • Filipinos in at least five villages fell sick when a nearby Bt corn variety was pollinating.[37]
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer. Rats also had damaged organs and immune systems.[38]

Functioning GM genes remain inside you

Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.[39] This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us.

  • If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics.
  • If the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were to transfer, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.
  • Animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.[40]

GM food supplement caused deadly epidemic

In the 1980s, a contaminated brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness and disability in another 5,000-10,000 people. The source of contaminants was almost certainly the genetic engineering process used in its production.[41] The disease took years to find and was almost overlooked. It was only identified because the symptoms were unique, acute, and fast-acting. If all three characteristics were not in place, the deadly GM supplement might never have been identified or removed.

If GM foods on the market are causing common diseases or if their effects appear only after long-term exposure, we may not be able to identify the source of the problem for decades, if at all. There is no monitoring of GMO-related illnesses and no long-term animal studies. Heavily invested biotech corporations are gambling with the health of our nation for their profit.

Help end the genetic engineering of our food supply

When the tipping point of consumer concern about GMOs was achieved in Europe in 1999, within a single week virtually all major food manufacturers committed to remove GM ingredients. The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to reach a similar tipping point in the US soon.

Our growing network of manufacturers, retailers, healthcare practitioners, organizations, and the media, is informing consumers of the health risks of GMOs and helping them select healthier non-GMO alternatives with our Non-GMO Shopping Guides.
Use these tools to avoid GMO dangers.

Start buying non-GMO today. Help us stop the genetic engineering of our food supply.

We also need to tell our government that we want GMO labeling so we can make decisions based on the facts. The recent act passed by the House has a real possibility of being made into law, is called the DARK, H.R. 1599 –Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.

Knowing the truth helps.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

For supplements and meal replacement foods with non GMO soy and no artificial anything, use Shaklee products. You know they are Safe, Pure and Effective. Period.

www.HiHohealth.com shopping site.

 

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