Tag Archives: inflammation

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.



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OTC pain meds

Gentle Reader,

The aftermath of my bike crash calls into question two of my closely held beliefs:  OTC pain meds are bad for you; keep moving, no matter what.  I was on the dunes path at Long Beach, WA with twelve Finneys of all ages.  Nothing like a little crowd around the beginning of the last section of trail to get a person off kilter and into the sand.  My recovery seemed fine while at the beach because I was icing and taking a lot of Shaklee Pain Relief Complex and doing nothing.  (My granddaughter reminds me that I split some wood with a heavy ax.) The pain worsened, keeping me awake at night.  Coughing hurt unbearably.  I went to my doctor.  Dr. Pepin knows I am not a willing patient.  He is working hard to play the role of a team member in my health care.  He makes a special effort to honor my preference for natural healing practices—acupuncture, massage, individual training and supplements.  He sent me for an x-ray.

When I got home, My Chart contained the message that I had broken the 9th rib on the left side, but only a hairline fracture.  In his notes, he suggested more icing and anti-inflammatories.  I decided to take Aleve.  I took another one 8 hours later.  I took a third 8 hours after that.  I iced off and on for the next 36 hours.  Everything improved.  The depression in the muscles beneath the broken lower back rib normalized.  The muscles on the opposite side calmed down to normal.  I slept soundly, happy that pain did not disturb me.  It seemed like a miracle.

What is so bad about NSAIDS? What do they do?  Why have I resisted taking them so consistently?

It turns out when taken for a brief time (2 – 10 days), anti-inflammatories calm down injured muscles allowing healing to take place.  The danger with these drugs appears when taken habitually over a long period of time to manage chronic pain.  The NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) intercept 2 enzymes called Cox 1 and Cox 2 that are involved with inflammation.  Inhibiting Cox 1 has the side effect of damaging the stomach lining, causing bleeding.  Advil, Motrin and Aleve are the most popular of these non-specific anti-inflammatories and regularly cause damage to the stomach lining when taken over a long period of time.

The risks from taking NSAIDS, besides internal bleeding, are most severe for people who have heart conditions.  People with stomach problems should avoid them.  For healthy people with no blood pressure or other heart issues, taking NSAIDS for a few days to bring down inflammation carries low risk and brings much relief.

I am satisfied that taking NSAIDS for a few days to help the immediate problem is a good thing for my body and does not put me at risk.

Now let me think out loud about my other closely held belief: Keep Moving under any and all circumstances.  This week I have not hiked, gone to yoga practice, worked out with my trainer or done much of anything. I did walk around Green Lake, a 3 miles meander on the flat, and twice I walked to the West Seattle Junction, down and up  a hill, repeated in the opposite direction, about 2 miles total.  Moving, yes; pain free, pretty much.  At least pain free around the injured area.  But after a dozen steps, chronic pain kicked in: hips, knees and lower back.  I found myself questioning the value of moving, especially since moving causes pain.

It turns out that Not moving is lethal.

Bone Loss

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, our bones require applied stress for them to grow. Bone stress sends a signal to the body to build bone density. If you don’t stress your bones by exercising, you can suffer from low bone density, which can turn into a case of osteoporosis. Also, if you never exercise and stretch your joints, your arthritic joints will stiffen over time and their adjoining tissues will weaken, causing more arthritis.

Muscle Loss

Your bones need stress exerted on them to grow, and so do your muscles. A muscle’s fibers need to tear for it to rebuild itself larger and stronger. So as you may already know from experience, if you don’t use your muscles, you “lose” them.

Increased Risk of Disease

Muscle loss caused by inactivity makes your metabolism slow down. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body converts food and drink into usable energy. If you have a slow metabolism, your body ends up storing a lot of the food and drink energy instead of using it to get your body moving. This storage leads to weight gain and puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, depression and anxiety, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

Weaker Immune System

According to MayoClinic.com, without regular aerobic exercise, your immune system weakens. This makes it harder for your body to fight viruses such as the flu and the common cold. So if you never exercise, you’re likely to find yourself getting sick more often.

Keep Moving will remain my closely held belief.  Since the pain I experience when I move is chronic, caused by arthritis, I will continue to use Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex.  Its herbal formula is a pain path inhibitor (Cox 2 and 5 Lox) but does not interfere with Cox 1.  Therefore there is no risk to the stomach or to the heart.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

I promise I will.  Join me.


Comments?  I love to hear them.

Thanks to Lindsay Haskell  of AZ who blogs about health, fitness, culture and fashion.


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tennis elbow and fatty acids

Gentle Reader,

Fatty Acids, Antioxidants May Help “Tennis Elbow”

Are you plagued with tennis elbow?  Other inflammed joints?  Perhaps this Danish study on the use of fatty acids to reduce tennis elbow inflammation will be of interest.

natural anti inflammatory for tennis elbow
natural anti inflammatory for tennis elbow

FREDENSBORG, DENMARK (Reuters Health) – A combination of essential fatty acids and antioxidants appears to be an effective treatment for the inflammatory injuries commonly known as ‘tennis elbow’ and ‘golf elbow’.

Soren Mavrogenis, a physiotherapist with Denmark’s Olympic Committee, tells Reuters Health that he has effectively treated several hundred cases of recurrent inflammatory injuries. He and his colleagues recently conducted a study in order to document the anti-inflammatory properties of this new treatment, which was tested for the first time in 1996 on a group of rowers from Denmark’s National Rowing Team. The study will be published in a scientific journal of sports medicine in the near future.

Typically the injuries are treated with rest, physiotherapy, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain and inflammation.

“The results of this research confirm our clinical observations and leave us with the clear impression that inflammatory injuries can be treated without the use of NSAIDs. I see this as a regular breakthrough in modern physiotherapy. For the first time we are able to offer our patients a safe and reliable treatment for stress injuries with chronic inflammatory response. In fact, it is our experience that with this new treatment, as opposed to conventional treatment, athletes are able to train actively while receiving treatment,” Mavrogenis explains.

The nutritional supplement used by Mavrogenis and colleagues to treat the athletes contains omega-3 (fish oil), omega-6 (borage oil) and vitamins A, B6, C and E plus selenium and zinc. According to Mavrogenis, most patients respond positively to the treatment in a matter of 2-3 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury, but in more serious cases it may take several months.

Pure fish oil, DHA, EPA
Pure fish oil, DHA, EPA

“The bad cases require the use of intensive ultrasound and certain massage techniques in addition to the antioxidants and essential fatty acids, but in the milder cases the use of nutrients alone is adequate,” Mavrogenis says.

Generalist Dr. Claus Hancke also supports the use of essential fatty acids and antioxidants in treating inflammatory injuries.

“Strenuous exercise is known to produce an overload of harmful free radicals that damage healthy cells by oxidizing the phospholipids in the cell membrane. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals and limit their destructive impact, which is why athletes must make sure to get adequate amounts of antioxidants to protect themselves against stress injuries. In addition, essential fatty acids are important since they support the body’s production of beneficial type 1 and type 3 prostaglandins, those which counteract pain and inflammation,” Hancke tells Reuters Health.

“Personally, I see the nutritional approach to inflammation as a big advantage, and I am convinced that essential fatty acids and antioxidants taken in combination have the same, or maybe an even greater, anti-inflammatory potential than NSAIDs,” he added.

In Norway, where inflammatory injuries in shoulders, elbows, knees and Achilles tendons account for 25% of all job-related absences, the new anti-inflammatory regimen is presently being tested by NIMI (Norsk Idrettsmedisinsk Institut), one of Scandinavia’s leading treatment facilities for sports injuries and rehabilitation.

I can personally vouch for the success of this approach.  I take 800 mg of Vita-E Plus, Vita-Lea, and 4 each of the GLA and EPA on a daily basis.  When I get tennis elbow or bursitis in my shoulder, I increase my GLA and EPA to 10 each/day.  The inflammation is gone in two to three days!

Shaklee's fish oil: Omega Guard
Shaklee’s fish oil: Omega Guard

Dr. Steve Chaney

In my own case, I supplement with GLA and OmegaGuard, Vita-E, Vita Lea Gold and am able to avoid flare-up cases of inflammation.  It is unlikely that the medical profession in the US will prescribe fatty acids for tennis elbow any time soon, but that doesn’t prevent you from experimenting to see if the “Danish effect” is available to you.  I cannot vouch for any other brand except Shaklee, which I know works.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,


206 933 1889

PS I know my readers would love to hear your fish oil/inflammation stories, so please share.


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arthritic hands

Gentle Reader,

Several friends have complained about arthritis in the hands.  There are some things you can do to reduce the pain, increase mobility and slow the process down.

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by breakdown of cartilage, with eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a “cushion” between the bones of the joints. When the cartilage deteriorates (degenerates), the bone next to it becomes inflamed and can be stimulated to produce new bone in the form of a local bony protrusion, called a “spur.”

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis because of the degeneration of the cartilage that causes it. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common and affects over 20 million people in the United States alone. Osteoarthritis occurs more frequently as we age. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in men. After age 55 years, it affects women more frequently. Osteoarthritis causes no symptoms in many patients. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include local pain, stiffness, tenderness, and occasionally swelling in the affected joints. Dr. William Shiel, Jr. MedicineNet.com.

joint with osteoarthritis
joint with osteoarthritis

Picture a ball and socket joint. Between the two bones is the synovial membrane. A layer of cartilage at the end of each bone is the shock-absorbing cushion between the two bones.

Arthritis occurs first in any joint that has been previously injured. Also occurs with wear and tear on joints with age. Carrying extra weight deteriorates joints more rapidly.

Bone spurs extend from bone into soft tissue and damage the synovial membrane.

Bone spurs and kidney stones result from improper calcium metabolism. If you don’t have enough calcium intake to maintain calcium blood level, calcium must be pulled out of storage from the bones.  Calcium ready to be excreted by the kidneys goes back into the blood. This free unbound calcium goes to areas of highest activity and settles in the fingers, wrists, spine, hips, and neck. This is the cause of arthritis in the hands.  It is necessary to take enough calcium every day to prevent spurs and kidney stones.  I recommend OsteoMatrix by Shaklee because of the extensive research to prove that the nutrients in this supplement actually break down and get to the blood and bone.  Many calcium supplements contain binders that prevent break down into usable nutrients.  Check your brand for clinical studies.

Wear and tear of joints leads to improper cushioning, to bone rubbing against bone, to inflammation (swollen and stiff). If you lose all the synovial membrane and most of the cartilage, your joint must be replaced. If you take action soon enough, you can rebuild cartilage, stimulate, and rebuild the synovial membrane.

(This information comes from Diane Petoskey, a renowned nutritionist who lectures widely in North America.  I have heard her speak at all day seminars on health several topics and have listened to all of her health audio tapes.  Her recommendations work most of the time with most people.  They are worth a try.  The side benefits from the supplements are many.  Going the medication route tends to damage the body over the long haul as there are so many negative side effects.   Buying supplements costs more because insurance doesn’t pay for them.  However, the gain in good health is considerable.  I personally had arthritis at a young age, in my late teens and 20’s and took lots of Aspirin, Motrin and other pain killers.  When I started in with Shaklee at age 48, I used the basic supplements and 15 – 20 alfalfa tablets a day and stopped all medications for arthritis.  In recent years, the Shaklee scientists have continued to do research on the pain receptors and on joints and have developed other arthritis relief products, including a soothing Pain Cream.  Please try the packet on sore joints to see how they feel.  Let me know what questions you have.  I am now 76 and ski, hike, walk, do stairs, dance and generally move comfortably through most yoga positions and doing chores in my garden and two-story house.  I take no pain medications other than the Shaklee products.  My neurologist has done MRI’s of my back over the years and repeatedly says the pictures would suggest I needed a wheel chair and yet I am extremely active.)

Nutrients good for joints: minerals are very important

OsteoMatrix 1500-2000 mg/day

Magnesium (Vita mag) 750-2000 mg/day (cal-mag ratio = 2:1)
Alfalfa: provides trace minerals. When the body is too acidic, it damages the synovium. Alfalfa is alkaline. Take 24-30/day (the tablets are small) Alfalfa also reduces inflammation. You may need to go up to 60/day for a couple of weeks to reduce pain and swelling. Note: meat eaters have high levels of uric acid in the blood which damages the synovium.

MSM: in capsules. For inflammation of joints. Take 6000 mg/day
Zinc: at least 45 mg/day

Garlic: for inflammation and joint problems. Garlic kills viruses, yeast, parasites, bacteria, it is anti-inflammatory, also regulates B/P. take 3-9/day

Vita C: stimulates production of collagen (cement that holds cells together). Helps to rebuild joints, also good for inflammation. Take 3,000-5,000 mg/day

Omega guard (Essential Omega 3 Complex) essential fatty acids. Take 9/day

GLA: take 6/day

Lecithin: take 9-12/day

CarotoMax: take 3/day

B-Complex: take 6 a day

Vita Lea: take 2 a day

Joint Health Complex: stimulates production of cartilage. Minimum of 6/day. May have to use 9. It will take months to rebuild your joints, then you can reduce nutrients to maintain your joints.

Exercise: don’t over stimulate the joints. If you have arthritis, first decrease inflammation, then exercise. Arthritics definitely improve with exercise because circulation of blood increases and more nutrients go into the joints. Start with water aerobics.  Here are some exercises for arthritic hands. ra_exercises_s11_stretch_fingers ra_exercises_s12_wrist_flexion ra_exercises_s13_elbow_stretch ra-exercises-s1-photo-of-trainer-flexing-arms

You may balk at consuming so many supplements.  I can tell you from personal experience that I have been able to maintain healthy joints by taking slightly fewer. Diane Petoskey’s recommendations seemed extreme to me.  However, many people have followed her advice to the letter and experienced major improvement.  If you want dramatic results, you have to take dramatic measures.  You might take the plunge and try this approach wholeheartedly for 3 months.  Your blood is completely new in ninety days, so a three month trial will tell you if this approach is effective.  Medicine is cheaper, but does not build healthy cells for the future.

I’d love to read your comments.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,


206 933 1889

Betsy Bell’s Health 4u

4455 51st Ave. SW

Seattle, WA 98116




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Arthritis or Tendonitis?

Gentle Reader,

Tendonitis or arthritis?  Which is it?  My oldest daughter (52) was feeling sprightly one morning in Ecstatic Dance and accepted an invitation to do a cartwheel and round off.  Why not?  She is fit, exercises daily and used to do them easily when she was a gymnast back in high school.  So off she sped across the floor, executing the perfect cartwheel and round off, landing smartly on her heels, arms out in a victory pose.  Immediately she felt the sharp pain in her right buttock but went on dancing.  That was last August.  By December she could not bear weight on that leg, on her sit bone which made walking and sitting painful and challenging.  The diagnosis was a torn hamstring tendon, a rare accident usually confined to linebackers. Most orthopedists see a hand full in a life-long practice.  She found one who, in twenty years, had repaired twelve such injuries.  The operation was successful and she is walking, driving, and sitting comfortably again.  This condition is a torn or ruptured tendon.  Definitely not tendonitis or arthritis of the hip, which she fleeting believed it might be.

Tendonitis, commonly called tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, trigger finger, is an inflammation of the fibrous, cordlike connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone.  Tendons can withstand amazing amounts of force, but they are not indestructible.  Witness my daughter’s round off.  The pain of tendonitis accompanies stiffness and swelling near a joint.  Arthritis presents in the same way.  When you get this pain, stiffness and swelling, you usually take some anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen; apply ice and rest the affected joint.  But this could be a miss-diagnosis.  [information from an article in Johns Hopkins Health Alerts]

Perhaps the inflammation is actually in the sheath around the tendon.  Tendons do not contain many blood vessels, so they are seldom inflamed.  If you are over 50, it is possible your tendons are degenerating.  The collagen that makes up the tendon breaks down, causing multiple microscopic tears.  What little blood circulation there is to the tendon also decreases with age, making the healing of these microscopic tears more difficult.  This degenerative condition is called tendinosis. Can you tell the difference between tendinosis and arthritis?

It is common to develop tendinosis and have no symptoms until some sudden trauma or the gradual build up of repetitive motion in work, sport or exercise.  Perhaps my daughter had tendonosis compromising the tendon’s elasticity.  She would not have known that she was at risk for a major trauma to the hamstring tendon.

Here’s a way to tell if your joint pain, stiffness and swelling is tendon related or bone and joint related:  try taking glucosamine (Joint Health Complex by Shaklee) for two weeks. If it helps, you likely have osteoarthritis.  If not, it is more likely a tendon problem.

Glucosamine has been shown in quite a few scientific studies to help with cartilage formation.  Cartilage is what your joints are made of, and what arthritis attacks, so upping the rate of production of cartilage helps your joints.  You feel better….if you have arthritis.

On the other hand, glucosamine will not help with collagen formation, and tendons are made of collagen.  So it stands to reason that if you feel like you have “joint pain”, take glucosamine, and do not experience any relief, one very likely culprit could be your tendons.  Tendon insertion points are often very close to joints and it can be difficult to tell exactly where the pain is coming from.

Taking NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories) using ice and rest can provide temporary relief for either tendonosis or arthritis, but since both are the result of inflammation, using these treatments will not help you distinguish between the two.  Knowing which one you have is important if you intend to treat the condition yourself.  If you take NSAIDs and they do not help, you probably have degeneration of the tendon.

This information comes from a web site http://www.targettendonitis.com/ by Alex Nordach, who is marketing his ebook (for $29) on how to treat degenerating tendons.  I have not purchased this book so I can’t recommend it.  If you are interested, follow the link and see for yourself.

What I can tell you about natural healing for both joint and tendon caused pain, is the following:

Acupuncture can relieve pain, stiffness and swelling. 

Vitamins C and B Complex, plus Alfalfa help build collagen naturally, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow into the area.  And I do not mean one or two tablets.  3000 mgr. of Sustained Relief C and 6 tablets a day of Shaklee’s B Complex can make a difference.  I could tell you stories of people who have avoided surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome by taking lots of B Complex.  Alfalfa tablets are small pea sized pills and should be eaten by the spoon full, not one by one.  We are talking food.  Can’t swallow that many pills?  Chew them up.  Shaklee’s Alfalfa tablets smell sweet when you open the bottle and taste like new mown hay with no sticks or twigs.

Whether your joint pain is tendonosis or arthritis, these supplements will help.  Since glucosamine is expensive and NSAIDs mess up your stomach, check out the treatments to see what you are dealing with and then proceed with these three supplements. Their side benefits are legion.

In most of my blog posts, I talk about the various causes of arthritis and things you can do to manage arthritis short of medication and surgery.  This blog addresses another cause of joint pain, tendonitis and tendinosis.  I hope this refinement — arthritis or tendonitis–helps you.

If this information is helpful, please let me know.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,


206 933 1889





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How important is organic?

Gentle Reader,

A new customer is determined to make changes in her habits so she is supporting better health for the future.  She worries about the high cost of eating organic.  Not every fruit and vegetable is equally laden with pesticides and herbicides.  When you are working toward an organic diet, you can expect your food bill to go up.  You expect that.  But is there a way to move gradually to organic.  

Why bother  going organic?  For the arthritis sufferer, the joints are susceptible to toxins that come into our body in processed and fresh non-organic foods.  The joints have poor blood flow so it is harder to flush these toxins.  If your arthritis is crippling, painful and keeps you from exercising, the build up of toxins in the joints can cause inflammation and be difficult to alleviate.  By all means, keep walking, keep moving those joints if at all possible to get a flow into them which will flush toxins out.

For the rest of us, pesticides are not a good thing.  They create stress on the immune system and could even cause cancer.  The toxic chemicals coming along for the ride on our fresh fruits and vegetables are especially harmful to children whose bodies are small and can not handle the stress.

I share this web site which includes two videos for your consideration.

  • Not all fruits and vegetables are bad for us.
  • The harmful effect is greater on children and adults with compromised health.
  • Stick to foods that can be peeled:  watermelon, cantelope, pinapple, corn, and peel the non-organic apples, potatoes, peaches.
  • Avoid the dirty dozen.   You’ll find them on the web site above where you can down load the infomation and carry it in your purse when you shop.  

Here is more good information for you http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/dirty-dozen-foods-list-2013_n_3132788.html

Another way to get past the cost (and check carefully, sometimes the price difference isn’t that great.) is to prepare half an apple for the kids.  Quarter them and that way they will have the great benefit of the organic fruit without the pesticides.  Serve less.  Make the organic item go farther.

Good luck with this change.  You will be amazed at how wonderful the organic produce tastes.  Treat yourself.  Have fruit for dessert and forget the ice cream.  Yummy.

Be well, Do well, and Keep Moving,


206 933 1889

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Food Cures. Is there such a thing?

Gentle Reader,

I’ve joined an on line face book arthritis support group to learn from others how they suffer and what they are doing about it.  Following the rabbit trails I came to this web site  maintained by a Joy Bauer.  She has a slide show showing foods that are helpful for sufferers of arthritis.  You can also take a survey here that will give you a food suggestion list based on your answers to several life style questions.

Here are the suggestions that resulted from my survery:

Step 1

Understanding Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is due to a combination of factors, including genetics, past injury, joint use and overuse, and the aging process in general. The word “overuse” implies that it’s a concern for serious athletes, as well as those who have stress on the joints caused by excess body weight. Losing just a little weight can have a huge positive impact on OA. Because arthritis is a disease of inflammation, the most effective — and logical — treatment is anything that fights inflammation. Management of arthritis usually starts with ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and improving weight and lifestyle. I will go into more detail on how to manage OA in the following steps and on the Food Cures Web site.
Step 2

Foods to Avoid
In order to reduce inflammation in your body, you should dramatically limit your intake of pro-inflammatory foods. It sounds like you’re already avoiding foods high in saturated fats — such as fatty meats, butter, whole and 2 percent milk, full-fat cheese, and rich desserts. However, there are a few other foods you should add to your “foods to avoid” list. Trans fats, which are man-made fats added to baked goods to give them a longer shelf life, are very dangerous and even worse than saturated fats for your health. The good news is that laws now require food manufacturers to list trans fats on nutrition labels — so they’re easy to spot. Choose packaged foods that list 0 grams trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel and don’t list any “hydrogenated oils” — codeword for trans fats — in the ingredients panel. The other food group to avoid is simple and refined carbs — which set up a state of inflammation in the body. These foods include soda and other sweetened beverages, candy, sugary refined cereals, white-flour baked goods, and white rice, bread, and crackers.
Step 3

Keep Drinking Your Water
Cartilage is 65 to 80 percent water, so staying hydrated is important for the health and lubrication of your joints. Maintaining proper hydration is even more important for individuals who suffer from gout. Water helps flush uric acid out of the body, and studies suggest staying hydrated may help prevent flare-ups. It isn’t necessary to count the number of glasses of water you drink in a day — the latest research suggests that if you take time to drink a glass whenever you feel thirsty, you’ll probably do fine. You are already drinking enough water, which is important for managing your arthritis. To spice things up, you might want to try flavoring your water with fresh fruit slices or drinking unsweetened green tea or herbal tea — there are so many delicious and fun varieties. And be sure to avoid sugary drinks like soda, sweetened water, fruit drinks, sweet tea, and froufrou coffee concoctions.
Step 4

Smoking and Arthritis
I know you don’t smoke, but I just wanted to share with you a few good reasons to stay smoke-free: Smoking delivers toxins throughout the body, causing inflammation and increasing the risk of arthritis. In one study, smokers were more than twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who didn’t smoke. In addition, researchers from a multicenter study reported in 2005 that smokers had a greater risk of osteoarthritis of the knee, possibly because smoking interferes with the body’s ability to repair its own cartilage. The bottom line is that staying smoke-free is a wise choice!
Step 5

Maintain Your Healthy Weight
One of the best things you can do for your arthritis is maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight — and you’re already there! Being overweight can put added physical stress on your joints, which can aggravate arthritis (particularly osteoarthritis) and increase your levels of pain. An unhealthy weight can also promote inflammation, which as I’ve mentioned is the root of arthritis. Another reason to keep eating right and exercising!
Step 6

Exercise and Managing Arthritis
You’re already exercising daily — good for you! Many people stop exercising at the first twinge of pain in a joint, but this can be a big mistake. Exercise can actually be a great tool for fighting arthritis. It can help you lose or maintain weight, which reduces the overall stress impact on joints. Strong muscles can absorb shock from daily movements, keep joints stable, and protect against additional joint injury. Stretching and yoga can improve flexibility and range of motion and reduce joint stiffness. Swimming and water aerobics allow free movement without added stress on the joints. Walking is another manageable, low-impact form of aerobic exercise appropriate for most individuals with arthritis. All good reasons to maintain your active lifestyle!
Good luck changing whatever needs changing to find the pain free movement you long for.
Comments?  Please leave your thoughts and comments.  Pass this along on your facebook page.
Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,
206 933 1889
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Watch out for the metal detectors!

Gentle Reader,

His long legs and narrow hips will soon carry him back to the gym.  He will be back on the machines and lose the ‘love handles’ that have crept on from lack of exercise. The long process of identifying what caused the sciatica, the sharp pinching pain radiating down the leg, making his once strong stride impossible is over.  It took months to identify a worn out hip as the culprit.  He has a new one now.hip replacement

No more arthritis pain from that degenerated joint.  His bones were healthy enough at 70+ to give the surgeon something to work with.  Other joints–knee, shoulders, ankles–still hold.  No advanced osteoarthritis everywhere.

Rehabilitation takes time.  His spirit is good.  He hates hurting or talking about hurting, so he will use the special chair lifters, the raised toilet seat, and take the procautions he must take to avoid damage to the new joint as the supportive muscles and tissue and tendons readjust to the trauma of surgery.

This world traveler will soon set off the alarms in the airport again.  What joy.  What thanksgiving.

Here are some tricks to rapid healing that his doctor may not tell him.

1.  Lecithin is an oil that helps emulsify, make more liquid, substances that are sticky.  After an incision or any wound to the body, our own mechanisms for repair rush to the task of healing.  This healing process causes lots of swelling, too many repair cells for the space.  To help bring this swelling down quickly, an emulsifier makes the spent repair cells easy to slough off through the normal waste stream.  Several lecithin capsules a day, not just one or two.

Caution: not all lecithin is the same.  Granuals or huge jars of capsules can go rancid quickly like any oil exposed to the air and light.  I prefer a small jar with 180 capsules.  There should be no smell of rancidity.  A rancid fat causes more damage than you can imagine, so take care what you buy.

2.  Alfalfa.  This food for horses and cows is King of Vegetables and helps all systems in the body with its nutrients.  In this case when the hip joint and surrounding tissue need held, it is there to do the job. Here are a few of Alfalfa’s contributions to our body:

  • a great aid in digestion, aids in peptic ulcers, great diuretic and bowel regulator,
  • effective barrier against bacterial invasion, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine.
  • Natural body deodorizer, helps support the natural ph of the blood .   
  • High in protein: 18.9% protein as compared to beef 16.5%; milk 3.3% and eggs 13.1%.
  •  Remember, muscles are composed of protein and the lack of it causes them to break down resulting in fatigue and weakness. 
  • After surgery, naturally replenishes joints and tissues with its healing properties.

How much Alfalfa?  Lots and lots.  It is like eating peas.  Take a big spoonful and wash the tablets down with your favorite smoothie.  Or make a hot tea.  Or chew them up.

Caution:  Not all Alfalfa is the same.  Often genetically modified, the brand I use exclusively is grown by a very picky company’s organic farmers in Antalope Valley.  The leaves are picked at sun-rise.  No stems are included in the tablets.  Open the bottle and take a whiff of the farm land where it grew.

If I had to pick only one supplement to take, it would be Alfalfa by Shaklee.  Dr. Shaklee felt the same way.

Happy healing to my friend, the best travel leader I have ever known. And Happy Travels.



Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com    206-933-1889


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Help! Gotta have chocolate now!

Gentle reader,

How are you doing with those plans to take a few inches off?  Are you starving yet?  Are cravings getting the better of your will power?  What’s this got to do with arthritis and joint pain, anyway?

The research has been done and is conclusive beyond a doubt that losing even 15 pounds (you may have 50 to 100 to lose) in any body will make a difference in the joints.  Even people with severe osteoarthritis will experience relief from joint pain with the loss of 15 pounds.  You may have lost that much and noticed.  You may have put it back on again, and noticed an increase in arthritis pain.

A recent article in our Seattle based natural market, Puget Consumer Coop gives us a good understanding of cravings and why they are so difficult to eliminate.  We are hard-wired as humans from the beginning of time to go for high-calorie food for our survival.  When a bee hive was discovered in a high tree, no attempt was made to save it for tomorrow.  The whole tribe ate all the honey they could harvest until it was gone.  Just like that plate of cookies sitting on the counter.  Or that pint of Ben and Jerry’s we were going to split into at least 5 servings spaced out over the next two and a half weeks.  Gone in one sitting.

Then we beat ourselves up for lack of self control.  Blame it on our chemistry.  Salt, fat and sugar were scarce.  We love eating them because they increase the feel good chemicals in our brain.  For example, dopamine is neurotransmitter that high-fat foods increase regulating our reward and pleasure centers and making us happy.  Who wouldn’t want that? Bring on the ice cream and the French fries.

Or maybe it’s the theobromine (found in chocolate) that gives us a pick me up when our brain and tail drag around 3 in the afternoon.  That mocha latte is just the thing delivering caffeine, sugar and chocolate all in one gulp—feel good and get energized.  I used to advise clients to eat a magnesium supplement to supply what chocolate cravings demand.  The scientific thinking a few years ago was that cravings indicated a nutritional or emotional deficiency and something less unhealthy could be substituted for the same results.

You’re in luck, and so am I.  Turns out it is wiser not to deprive yourself completely of these craved for foods.  The more you deprive yourself, the more you crave.  Once you give in to the craving, you can’t stop until the plate is empty. You may even head for the store to get a refill, more cookie dough that you might not even bother baking, or, let’s just pick up a gallon of that Rocky Road ice cream.  I know a guy who holds back with great effort from eating peanut butter and then gives up with a great sign and is face down in the Adams jar with two cereal spoons.  OMG I’ve been there and done that.

They even found that people who practice severe and rigid dietary restraint are more likely to be obese.  That’s a yo-yo from deprivation to over-consumption.

<———————————–The Hunger Scale——————————->
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Empty Ravenous Over hungry Hunger pangs Hunger Awakens Neutral Just Satisfied Completely satisfied Full Stuffed Sick

Thanks to Kelly Morrow, MS, RD, registered dietitian and Associate Professor in the School of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University for much of this information and the Hunger Chart.  and 2 equate to excess hunger and 9 and 10 are excess fullness.  Start eating around 3 or 4 and stop when at a 7-8.

Two strategies can make a big difference in how these cravings get handled.

1. Ease up.  Have a taste.  Savor it.  Before the cravings are so great they can’t be handled without an all-out binge.  Be gentle with yourself and eat small portions of your comfort food.

2.  Keep a food diary so you can really understand how moods, physical location, memories influence the desperate need for comfort foods.  Once you have a clearer understanding of your body’s response to certain trigger situations, you can plan ways to disarm your craving, like take a walk.

My sugar craving was severe and the results caused me so much misery.  I could not stay awake in an important lecture or concert any time of the day or evening after eating sweet rolls, cookies, muffins, toast and jelly.  I would get up during a talk and walk around the back of the room to stay alert after a couple Costco bran muffins put me sound asleep.  To this day when I go to an all day meeting or conference and they serve sweet bread-y things with juice and coffee, I don’t touch any of it.  Instead I mix a protein smoothie in my room and drink it before showing up for the pre-event sugary snacks.  They still tempt me.  They look so good.  But I’m not hungry because I have taken in a high protein drink and it’s easier to resist what I know will keep me from being alert to the content I want so much to hear.

Getting to this place was an arduous process for me.  I had to eliminate all sugars, even fruit, for a while.  Grapes still set me off as though I were eating Sugar Pops or M & M’s.  Once I thoroughly re-programmed my craving buttons, I just don’t think about those trigger foods.  I was just in Mexico for a couple weeks.  One of the great pleasures all those years visiting at my parents’ lovely beach house in Manzanillo was the morning “pan dulce” delivery.  Mother would buy several little cakes for each person.  They were heavy with lard, flour and sugar, almonds and icing.  This Christmas holiday spent in Puerto Vallarta, someone in our party bought a half dozen for the group. I had one small mouthful and remembered the pleasure of the past family gatherings AND the sluggish, heavy feeling those cakes produce.  One bite was enough.

Another strategy I try to follow is eat by the clock and not by my hunger.  Eating with cravings as the signal for meals can be difficult for a person devoid of normal hunger pangs.  I can go for hours after breakfast and suddenly realize my brain is not functioning.  I’m getting crabby.  I must have something to eat RIGHT NOW.  Keeping a nutritional protein bar in my purse or planning lunch as I finish breakfast is the best way I know to stay comfortably on the path of good eating.

Was the chocolate cake and flan in the Botanical Garden restaurant ever good!  Sharing one serving with my sister-in-law was all I wanted.  We ate steak fajitas before the desert.

I know many of you readers will have your own stories about how you have managed a healthy balance of sugar, fatty, salty foods in your life without becoming fanatic or over powered.  Tell us your strategies.  I have shared mine.  They are not universal.  We’d like to hear yours.  The comment place is just below.

If this has been useful, feel free to share.

BTW I am having a brunch at my house in West Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 19th at 10:30-12n. and would be happy to have you join us.  We’ll be presenting the 180 Turnaround weight management program.  Better yet, we’ll be tasting the Smoothies, the bars, the tea and describing all the support material available to help you end the  grip cravings have on your brain and consequently your health.  A program that helps you feel satiety while your are changing your food habits can make a world of different in whether or not you are successful.  I’d be glad to do the brunch vitually.  Call me and we’ll set it up.  Thanks in advance for your comments.

Fondly, Betsy

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

BetsyBell’s Health4u


206 933 1889  1 888 283 2077



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What can help the pain after an accident?

Help for pain after an accident?

Gentle Reader,

A woman I know suffered another bike accident on her commute.  She is in her late 40s and this is not her first tumble.  It is taking a long time to heal and she is suffering miserably, no fun any time and least of all at the holidays when there is no work to distract her.  Most of us can push through pain when we have professional obligations, right?

Stories like hers happen so frequently.  I don’t know what her doctor is suggesting.  There are no broken bones this time.  Typical treatment is ice packs alternating with heat to reduce the swelling plus anti-inflammatories.  The swelling seems to be gone, but the deep pain remains.

In my experience the deep healing of joint pain and muscle pain caused by accidents (as well as in arthritic joints) requires extra nutrition, more than it is possible to get from food alone.  Here is a list of vitamins that help:

Vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory and builds strong cartilage which has been ripped and bruised in the fall.  Vitamin C combats the chemical reactions of stress in the body.  Vitamin C helps the body absorb minerals which are necessary in joint healing.  As much as 6000 to 10,000 mg. of a highly absorbable sustained release Vitamin C would not be too much.  Take it as long as necessary.  Your body will tell you if you have too much as your stool will get loose.

Alfalfa, found in tablet form, made from organic alfalfa leaves, reduces the acid build-up in the body after accidental injury; this helps with stiffness and increases comfortable mobility.  People have found that as many as 30-50 Alfalfa tablets a day or more can make a huge difference in joint pain.

The full spectrum of B vitamins helps deal with the stress of traumatic pain.

Borage oil or GLA reduces joint tenderness, swelling and stiffness and is an excellent anti-inflammatory working deep inside the body.

Zinc promotes tissue repair.

Calcium Magnesium strengthens cartilage and alleviates pain.

After workout smoothies have ingredients in them that repair tears in the muscles. (I know personally of only one brand that for sure works like this, but perhaps there are others)  It is the process of repairing torn muscle that recommends these sports nutrition products for building bigger, stronger muscles.  The same repair work happens after an accident.  I know a woman who in her late 70s fell from the back end of a moving van onto her back.  She used a workout smoothie several times over the next hours and had very little pain from the trauma of the fall.  Even a long time after the accident, the smoothie can help.

At the Sunnyside Chiropractic Clinic observations were made charting an elderly population whose muscle mass had atrophied and weakened.  Over a 3 to 6 month period, men and women 65 – 84 years in age added the after workout smoothie on a daily basis and experienced increased mobility, strength and reduced joint and muscle pain.    http://www.healthsachoice.com/supplements/building-muscle-mass-in-the-elderly/  I have not been able to access the actual study from Dr. Brouse and the Health Education Corporation.  I know some of you want to see the science before believing.

Whether you are dealing with the pain of traumatic injury or the chronic pain of osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, these supplements are worth a try.  The body does its best to repair. We need to help it along with additional nutrients we just can’t get from our food.  Medication alleviates pain but does not heal, repair or build new healthy tissue.

I recommend the supplements made by the Shaklee Corporation as these are the only ones with which I have personal experience.  They have helped me endure acute traumatic pain and avoid debilitating chronic pain from the severe osteoarthritis in many of my joints and spinal stenosis in my spine.  If you want to research the Shaklee version of these supplements, go to my shopping page and browse the Product Guide.  You can call me for a consultation about your particular situation and I’ll be glad to share resources.

Before you go, share our comments on supplements and vitamins that have worked for you after an accident that has put you in a world of hurt.

If this post has been helpful, feel free to share it on your Facebook page.


Fondly, Betsy

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

BetsyBell’s Health4u


206 933 1889  1 888 283 2077



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