Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Tai Chi for relaxing stress

Our speaker for November's Support Group Meeting was Kathy Stiffney, a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Tai Chi Instructor from Goshen, IN. She has been teaching Tai Chi for 11-12 years, and this was our topic the evening

Kathy had been a kindergarden teacher for 27 years, and began training as a massage therapist during that time. She later began learning, and then teaching Tai Chi. It turns out that she, like me, has been fond of all things Asian for many years and this has pulled her to this method of exercise and stress-relief.

Tai Chi, she explains is a very subtle art. It developed originally as a subtle form of martial art, and has evolved into its own profund mental and physical discipline, which focuses specifically on promoting health, relaxation and the cultivation of the internal vital energy known as to the Chinese as Chi.

Tai Chi does not focus on the gross motor skills like so many other exercises do. Its purpose is different. It's purpose is to promote:

Thinking & Memory

This method of movement is both gentle and yet demanding. It involves slow, balanced, controlled movements utilizing the whole body in a flowing sequence of positions called, "the form." It is an art of complete inner calm and serene focus. (As I mention in my book, Fibromyalgia Basics, I've been doing Tai Chi, in my own form, for nearly 13 years. I find that focusing on Tai Chi - my movements and the breathing - takes my mind OFF of other pain, or depression, or stresses or worry running around in my mind. And doing this daily, ten minutes every single morning, bolsters me for the long haul.)

Kathy demonstrated about 5 minutes of beautifully fluid movements, explaining that she is deep breathing as she moves, she is moving slowly and deliberately, and showed the muscle strength being used to keep the movements slow. And as she turns this way and that, she is slowly massaging internal organs building up the muscles and strengthening the organs - heart, liver, lungs, spleen, intestines etc. This is healing because strength in these muscles helps them function more effeciently.

Because we were a small group she asked us to join in. We all rose, even the husband of one of our members, FF. It turns out that he pretty much put us all to shame, even with his chronic back pain! Kathy was able to come around to each of us to help perfect the stance and movements as we went along for some very basic beginning movements.

She also showed us how her class "Ohm's." She said they do ohming before and/or after the class to achieve a sort of connection. She demonstrated how it was done. The toning was very calming just listening to her. I asked if we could all do it together. Everyone was up for it, even FF. The idea is to take in a long slow deep breath, and then let it out slowly, as long as you can - all of it - while releasing the word "Ohmmmmm." Toning in this fashion assures all the "bad air" is released, before taking in more "good air." The "mmmmm" sound resonates so deeply, especially with all of us doing it together - one could actually feel it resonating in the bones. It felt really, really nice - soothing on a physical and emotional level, as well as a deeper level yet. And guess what? It turns out that FF is a prodigy, outlasting all of us in the length of letting out the bad air, on several occassions! Whoda thunk?

Kathy then showed us how to "body scan." We all know that tension can create pain. But, she said, we often don't realize when we are tense. She described a personal example. She was laying on her couch watching TV one evening when she decided to do a body scan. She took inventory of her body, from feet, legs, torso, arms, neck and even scalp. She discovered that her legs were tense, so she consciously stretched, then relaxed them.

I would have to say that it could be a real benefit for all of us to do regular body scans. I did this at home and realized that after being on the computer for only 15 minutes my neck was tense. I moved and stretched, and began again on my computer. I discovered that I need to do this body scan about every 15 minutes, and then move and stretch again. I'm certain this body scan prevented a nasty stiff neck before bedtime. It's kind of like taking inventory as to how we hold ourselves. We often hold tension in our body for whatever reason, without even realizing it - neck, shoulders, arms, legs, stomach, back, even our face!

Then we learned how to do stretches ala Tai Chi! Wow, did that feeel good! But you'll have to make an appointment with her to learn how to do it! *:)

There's no doubt about it. Kathy has a lot to teach that can help anyone with Fibromyalgia or chronic pain. Her classes are in Goshen, often at The Retreat Goshen's Women's Health Center, and are set up for six weeks at a time, to learn the basics.

Contact Information:

Kathy Stiffney
Family Chiropractic
1119 South Indiana Ave.
Gishen, IN 46526
(across from Goshen Middle School)

For appointments: call Kathy at 574-202-7710 or 574-534-4591

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fibromyalgia, Stress and HeartMath

The October Mishawaka Fibromyalgia Support Group's speaker was Diana Tice, a Licensed HeartMath Provider. What is HearthMath, you ask? In essence, HearthMath is a stress-relieving program where we can learn to relieve stress as we are experiencing it - to relieve stress in mid-stress! What a concept!

Knowing that our bodies are chronically stressed just by being chronically ill, and knowing that any emotional stress that comes tripping our way, great or small, can have a huge impact on our pain, this concept of HeartMath was a no-brainer to find out more!

HeartMath is an entire program consisting of a 5 week learning program which combines instruction from a Licensed Instructor like Diana right here in the area, or video program available on-line, quizes, worksheets and the award-winning emWave Technology.

Diana was able to give us only a brief "taste" of this amazing program, showing us a few of the tools and techniques to see what HeartMath is all about. She began by passing around handouts, the first of which described HeartMath as "the only scientifically-validated system of stress intervention techniques, and objective biofeedback that quantifialby- and dramatically - boosts the health and performance of individuals and organizations." In a nut shell, this program has been scientifically proven to help relieve stress, and by using their emWave devise or software it can display instant biofeedback and show you right away how much your stress factor has lowered as a result of the program.

Christine Northrup, author of Women's Bodies,Women's Wisdom, states, "HearthMath is the owner's manual we've been waiting for to help us recognize and use our heart's energy to help heal our bodies and our lives."

HeathMath's easy-to-learn, easy-to-use tools include techniques such as Neutral, Quick Coherence, Heart Lock-IN, Freeze Frame, Attitude Breathing, Authentic Communicating, Heart Mapping and In-Betweens.

She shared with us the "Neutral" tool to first. She asked us to breathe - long, slow, easy breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. THEN, visualize that belly breath flowing through your heart - in and out. In through the front of your chest, front of your heart, and out through the back - slowly, deeply. Breath in through your heart and out through your back. We did this for several minutes. I must say it was very relaxing and soothing. This can be done anywhere, anytime. In traffic, in the grocery store, waiting for kids to get ready for school, waiting for someone who's late, when frustrated with bills, or people, or things or time constraints or anything, anytime, anywhere. This is called the "Neutral" tool, bringing one to a neutral position in your thinking. This is key.

In my book Fibromyalgia Basics, page 108, I quote Drs. William and Carey of the University of Michigan HealthSystem in 2003. Here it is again. "Pain is associated with negative emotions such as sadness, frustration and irritability. When people are in pain and also have these emotions, the pain becomes worse. That is because these emotions are processed in the same side of the brain, as pain. Research has shown that pain decreases when people experience more positive emotions."

So the idea here is to switch from one side of the brain to the other - via emotions of compassion, gratefulness, love, etc. - in order to help ease pain, become more balanced, calm and stress-free.

Researcher, author and founder of the Heart Math Institute, Doc Childre "discovered that a positive attitude brings stress-relief only temporarily, but by engaging the heart, positive feelings can create stress relief that not only lasts, but actually reverses the physical damages of stress." He says that when people consciously shift to appreciation, gratitude, compassion, a feeling of love for another, a pet, God's natural world, etc, there is a measurable, scientifically proveable, cascade of neural, hormonal and biochemical events that benefit the entire body! Blood pressure normalizes, stress hormones plummet, the immune system is boosted, anti-aging hormones increase and we regain clarity, calmness and control. All this is physiological, immediate, and can be measured! *

This action turns out to be another tool. Engaging the heart with a deep emotion in this fashion, while practicing the "Normal" tool of "breathing through the heart" is the next tool called "Quick Coherence."

In fact, one member of our group gave an example where she could actually see the heart monitor change when she went to visit a friend in the hospital. Her friend was noticeably worried and upset about her condition, laying in the hospital bed hooked up to machines and IV's. When our member walked in, she began fretting and venting telling her how bad she felt and scared she was. But when she was asked about her cat, Lily, and they began talking about her, the heart monitor (her heart reading) instantly began to calm down and become much more even and steady. This is instant stress-relief!

A test had been done by the HeartMath Group measuring stress levels and the immune system. They took a swab of the inside of the mouths of group of people experiencing stress. After applying the HeartMath techniques including a video of Mother Theresa, another swab was done. Without question, their immuglobulin was UP, showing greater immune support, than when first taken.

The last tool Diana showed us was the "In-Betweens." This uses the first two tools, on purpose, on a steady, regular basis throughout the day, in between other activities - when waiting for the water to boil on the stove; when waiting on hold on the telephone; when waiting for someone to make up their mind; etc. In other words, the In-Betweens talks about deliberately utilizing your heart to create a loving moment, regularly throughout the day. "When you send loving feelings to another, or the planet, or self, you are acivating hormones and neurotransmitters that benefit and re-vitalize your personal system.This tool also helps clear out much of the 'under-chatter' that mechanically happens to all of us." ** This is like the monkey mind that has us repeating and re-living the what-if's and if-only's - a viscious circle that gets us nowhere but a ride down the stress chute! Imagine...deliberately sending out love from your heart 2 or 3 minutes, several times a day or more...this concept could literally change the world.

In the words of the Institute of Heart Math, "A change of heart is key to transforming the effects of stress."

At the end of her talk, Diana read several inspiring quotations from three books. Then using the special emWave technologyn on her computer she asked for volunteers to come and see their heart rate change as they changed the picture on the screen! This was truly awesome. All we had to do was slip our finger into the digital pulse reader and watch a black and white screen on her monitor as it began to glow with color as we thought loving thoughts! Amazing! Then we could read the heart monitor as to what happened. It is quite an experience. We could actually see the change in heart rate as we thought loving thoughts.

It was a very enlightening evening and we thank Diana for her time and generous sharing.

*Granger Gazette, March 2009
**Handout printed for us by Diana. (For providers -online)

Contact Information:

Diana Tice
Licensed HeartMath Provider at Expanding Horizons
phone: 574-293-2713
cell: 574-370-4917

Also please check out

If you have read my book, Fibromyalgia Basics, would you be so kind as to take a moment to visit and write a sentence or two under "Customer Reviews" telling how you liked it or how it helped you. More and more Librarians are using Amazon's reviews to get a "bead on" new books to order for their library. The more reviews the better! Thanks so very much!

Pati's November Events:
Nov 3rd - Blogtalkradio Show, Interview 12 - 1 pm. Topic: Managing Fibrimyalga naturally, including diet. The show is set up to call in or e-mail questions.

Nov 8th - Fibromyalgia Support Group, 6:00 pm. Mishawaka Library, 209 Lincoln Way East, Mishawaka
Nov 12th - Sufficient Grounds Coffee House, 1-3 pm. Booksigning and Q & A, 711 West McKinley, (opposite Town & Country), Mishawaka.

Nov. 15th - "Networking and All That Jazz Expo" 11-7pm. Business, Health and Networking Expo. I'll be exhibiting with the Talent For Giving local author's group. 52890 S.R. 933, South Bend, IN (Roseland).

Nov. 19 - Fall Author Fair, Main Library in Fort Wayne, IN. 12 - 4 pm. Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, IN

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Nature's Sunshine

Hi Everyone!
Our speaker for September's Mishawaka Fibromyalgia Support Group, was Donna Horner, of Baby Girl Herbs. Donna is a Certified Natural Health Professional who studied in Warsaw, IN and Indianapolis.

Her first experience with the power of natural healing and herbs was with her Golden Retriever, Baby Girl, who had had cancer. The cancer treatments were so hard on the poor thing that she was extremely weak and sickly during the whole ordeal and suffering terribly. When a friend said that this wasn't necessary, and she could feel much better, Donna said, "Yes, do it!"

The herbs that were given began working within a day. Baby Girl was beginning to look and feel better. She was up and moving around, and happy. Although Baby Girl still had cancer and was failing, her quality of life was so very much better, that Donna began looking into the world of herbs, not only for animals - pets of all kinds - but also for people. She studied and became certified and now is very happily helping people and pets live fuller, healthier and happier lives. She uses them for herself, her pets and her rescue dogs too.

In working with people, whether you have a stomach issue, a nasty cold or a chronic illness, her goal is to help achieve your optimum health and the state of well-being that you deserve. She works one-on-one with you following a completely thorough consultation. She will NEVER ever, tell you to stop taking your prescriptions, but she will tell you what the prescrition may be depleting in your system. And then she works with you to help rebuild that system back to as close to normal as possible.

If you have concerns about your immune system with the winter weather coming on, she has a superb immune booster, called The Ultimate Green Zone by Nature's Sunshine, which can fortify your system and help keep the winter nasties down to a bare minimum! In fact this particular combination of herbs can help you in many ways. She works mostly with Nature's Sunshine products, but others, such as Carlson's and Solar Ray are in her inventory as well. She will use the most appropriate supplement or combination she feels would be the most helpful for YOU personally.

She also spoke about the chemicals that those of us with Fibromyalgia often react negatively to. Chemicals like dyes, heavy metals, food colorings, fillers, aspartame, msg, nitrates and more not only affect us, but those with ADHD, migraine headaches, muscle pain , arthritis and much more. One place you'll find a lot of these fillers, dyes, msg, aspartame, etc chemicals is in your every day multivitamin! Read the labels! You may be reacting badly to a simple vitamin that is supposed to be helping you! She carries a wonderful herbal multi, you may like to try .

She also uses Silver Shield from Nature's Sunshine, a Coloidal Silver which helps the immune system and helps pull out a lot of those negative chemicals from your system!

She uses Probiotics and intestinal healing herbs, for many because she's found that many illnesses start in the gut! Once the gut is free and clear and healthy, many other symptoms are helped along the way!

She often helps other's using Carlson's fish oil, magnesium and malic acid, antioxidants, and of course her herbal combinations specific to you and your system. Thai-Go and Noni Juice, both powerul antioxidants, and more, are in her arsenal as well.

For those with chronic illnesses, she reminds them that "the illness in not who they are, it is what they are dealing with." And they can deal with it in so many ways. She can help by using "God's pharmacy" - natural healing herbs.

If you have an ailing or aging pet, she can help also!

"Baby Girl Herbs will conduct a one-hour consultation to evaluate your health history and concerns. A customized program that addresses your individual needs will be researched and formulated. Baby Girl Herbs will walk with you every step of the way on your path to optimum health and well-being."

Consultation fee: $30. (This one hour is a lot longer than any visit to a doctor's office.)

Contact info:
Baby Girl Herbs
Donna Horner, M.A.
574-255-5202 or 574-370-2030

Please visit and type "Baby Girl Herbs" (with caps) into the search box and "friend" her page. It would be most appreciated! *:)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fibromyalgia, flares, acupuncture

Our speaker for the August 9th Mishawaka Fibromyalgia Support Group was Dr. James Keating of Preventive Medicine, PC on Edison Rd, in Mishawkaka, IN. The most impressive factor of this particular place of healing is the fact that they do not perform any singular type of treatment. This of course, is right up our alley! I don't think there are many folks with Fibromyalgia who will be helped by any singular treatment, whether it is a prescription, supplements, chiropractic, exercise or what have you. Dr. Keating is also right up our perverbial alley, as he is not only a chiropractor, but also a fully licensed acupuncturist.

As Dr. Keating and his co-speaker, Nick Bello, came into the room, the topic being discussed was our ever-unpredictable "flare." We all have them. Some more than others. And for some it seems like they live in a permanent flare! Having heard a bit of our discussion, Dr. Keating asked if everyone in the room had experienced massage therapy (which they also offer at Preventive Medicine, PC). There were nods and shakes all around, and an eye-roll or two. He nodded too, knowing exactly what the eye-rolls were for.

He proceeded to explain that there are a number of different kinds of massage treatments. Sports massage, which is basically for healthy folks who have had a hard work out and need to "loosen up" their muscles. There is deep tissue massage, involving deep penetration of the massager's fingers at the tender points where the muscles are knotted up, with the intention of loosening these rock hard knots and thereby relaxing the muscles. (This often involves pain - which we get for free, no payment involved.) And then there is the gentle, soothing and relaxing massage (sometimes involving herbal oils & ocassionally soft music) which releases both painful toxins and helpful endorphins, thereby helping to ease pain.

Dr. Keating recommends the latter for anyone with Fibromyalgia, most especially for anyone experiencing a Fibro-flare. Coming in for a massage while you're in the flare is a very wise thing to do, he says, because this can ease up the flare considerably before it takes hold and grows roots (lasting a long time)! One of the reasons Prevention Medicine, PC impressed him as an employer is that they leave time slots open for new patients, and for "emergency" or immediate help for someone in urgent need, such as someone in a flare! He has found that massage is usually the most helpful for the immediate care of a flare. Some may prefer chiropractic or acupuncture, however, and so these are also available for "urgent help," as are hot moist heat applications, and electrical muscle stimulation. This latter is something like exercising your muscles without your having to move. The electrical stimulation machine sends impulses through your muscles to relax and contract them, bringing endorphins to the surface for pain relief. All of these treatments can help right away during a flare.

Everyone was familiar with, and had experienced chiropractic manipulation, but when Dr. Keating asked if we were familiar with acupuncture, one in our group said, "no." She had been apprehensive about the needles. He explained, then showed her the needles and assured her that these are NOT the same kind of needles that are used when you receive an injection. They are about the size of a cat whisker, and are not hallow but solid, and also surgically sterilized, of course. She asked the next logical question, which was, "Where do you put them? "

Well of course, the acupuncturist decides where to place them depending on the issue being treated - over-all pain, fibro-fog, stomach issues, hormonal-type issues, headaches, back pain, etc, etc - and according to the meridian (pathways of energy) being affected. He also decides whether 5 needles are enough, or 55 are required. Whatever the case, after the needles are placed, they usually remain in place for about 15 minutes. These needles also release endorphins, which not only help pain but also leave one feeling very "mellow."

An interesting fact revealed by Dr. Keating was that as each tiny needle is removed at the end of the session, and the tiny hole begins closing up, this action begins a healing cascade by your body. The needles had been treating your own natural immune response as they interacted with the meridians. And now your body begins releasing healing chemicals to each needle site (meridian point) that continues working for the next several days at each of these tiny (seemingly insignificant-sized) "holes." And so these meridian points are receiving healing for more than just those 15 minutes! In other words, acupuncture actually releases your body's own healing energy. Amazing!

One member mentioned that her doctor had recommended that she should have a specific (rather serious) surgery, and she asked if acupuncture could help this condition. His response, and we all agreed vigorously, was that practically speaking, his recommendtion is, "For any non-immediately-life-threatening condition, his rule of thumb is to try everything non-invasive first, THEN consider the pros and cons of surgery." In other words, what could it hurt to try chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, etc first, BEFORE surgery? It could save you money, time, pain, recuperation, possible infection, and so much more. As I said, we all agreed completely with his wise words.

Dr. Keating referred back to the subject of "flares," explaining that alopathic doctors, (our western medical physicians) have only a very few recourses to help a flair. They are 1) to write a Rx for pain and 2) write another Rx for an anti-inflammatory (inflammation also creates pain). Acupuncture works in a wholly different way. It helps control pain through 1) enabling your body to release its own endorphins, 2) helping to balance the tension/tone of the muscle, and 3) stimulating the above mentioned healing cascade, that your body performs. There are no pills involved here, or any side-effects, or any precautions mixing unfavorably with other meds you may be taking, plus you have the benefit of that mellow feeling afterwards.

And, of course massage helps quite well in its own way by breaking up and helping to release painful toxins, releasing beneficial endorphins (your body's own morphine) into your body to help the pain, and to gently massage the muscles to ease pain.

Nick Bello then reminded everyone that if you are in a flare, you can call Preventive Medicine, PC and almost always be able to make an appointment within 24 hours, so that it can be "nipped in the bud," so to speak, and things can begin healing much sooner! If you bring in a list of "things gone wrong," your immediate concerns and what you have been doing so far, any meds etc, they'll be able to help you much more effectively. (This is good advise for any doctor visit!) They don't run a dictatorship - they WILL talk with you. They will Listen to you. This alone is worth a visit! *:)

Dr. James Keating can be reached at Preventive Medicine,PC on Edison Rd, in Mishawaka, IN. 574-254-1400. He is available for Chiropractic treatments and Acupuncture treatments.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fibromyalgia & Tai Chi

Hi Everyone!

Our speaker for this evening was Dr. Cynthia Cortez, DD, the owner of T'ai Chi Meditative Lifestyle. She has been a T'ai Chi and meditation instructor for many years and found it helped her body actually heal after a very severe auto accident. She was in the passenger seat when her side of the car was broadsided by a truck. She had had many many broken bones - clavical, hip, leg, arm, etc and had been in extremely poor condition overall. After all the surgeries and time spent in the hospital, the pain was still excruciating and she was on many pain meds.

But then she discovered T'ai Chi and began practicing the art daily, in fact many times daily. She said she had actually become obsessive compulsive about it and practiced it nearly all day long because the more she did it, the better she felt. Soon she got off the pain meds altogether, and she hasn't looked back. She became an instructor and is quite successful in the area.

Cynthia began this evening by giving us a bit of background of this ancient Chinese practice, reminding us that Tai Chi has been practiced since the 16th Century, but only "arrived" here in the U.S. in the early 1970's! Tai Chi is a non-combative form of martial arts. In fact, it is a gentle exercise program that is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in much the same way as is Acupuncture. That is, both use the key concept of balance in all things -yin-yang- and both use the concept of Qi (chee) as being the life force that runs through our body. And when this Qi is blocked, throwing the balance off, then we must work to bring back that balance in order to heal.

Cynthia has found that Tai Chi can accomplish this by helping the body stay in balance in the day to day world.

She affirms however, that practicing Tai Chi is not a case of "attend 6 classes and you're fixed." Tai Chi is a lifestyle, meant to maintain this balance for a lifetime - day to day, day after day. After all, you are exposed to stresses every day. It only stands to reason that you must bring back that balance every day to maintain an even keel, so to speak. And so to this end, one must literally make room for Tai Chi as a part of your lifestyle. In other words, make it a routine or habit.

Note: I began doing Tai Chi in 1999. I have practiced it every morning of my life since I began. It is as much a part of my morning as brushing my teeth or meditating. I would never consider NOT doing it. I practice it in the afternoons, if I've had a stressful day, too.

The benefits? According to The University of Maryland Medical School it is beneficial for: "...chronic pain, gout, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, headaches and sleep disorders. Tai Chi is also beneficial for the immune system and the central nervous system, which makes it especially good for people with chronic illnesses, anxiety, viral infections, depression or any stress-related condition. The deep breathing of Tai Chi regulates the respiratory system, helping to treat respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. It also stimulates the abdomen, which aids digestion and helps relieve constipation and gastrointestinal conditions..." There's more, but follow the website's link for that:

Unlike Yoga (also very beneficial for health and well-being) where the postures are stationary, Tai Chi consists of "moving postures." You may have seen TV shows, or even commercials, where a group of people are in a park, doing a synchronized, slow-moving, dance-like exercise - this is Tai Chi. As you move your torso, head, arms, legs and feet, these gentle, slow movements not only exercise the outer body and muscles, these movements also exercise each internal organ as well, strengthening and fortifying the liver, lungs, heart, stomach and so on!

This is why these low-impact, aerobic, moving postures need to be done on a regular basis as a healthful, immune-supporting, stress-relieving, sleep enhancing form of exercise for people of all ages from 6 to 106! These exercises maintain the health of the organs, and help maintain a balance, while moving your Qi - your life force - freely throughout your body to avoid any blockages which may create illness, or add to an existing illness. Daily stress, for example, among other things, can create numerous blockages.

Cynthia demonstrated the five element moves of earth, metal, water, wood and fire. Each move, or moving posture, flowed very slowly into the next posture as she focused on the slow action of her move and her deep breathing (as I wrote about in my June newsletter ). The earth posture moved into the metal posture; moved into the water posture; into the wood posture and into the fire posture - all in a very graceful, gentle, flowing motion. It was relaxing just watching her!

The moving postures, the meditative focus on the action, and the breathing all work in concert to achieve the ultimate benefits of this exercise. They involve the body, the mind and the spirit - pulling them all together as one, bringing you into the now, where thoughts of past troubles, or future fears are a non-entity, because you are focusing on what you are doing at the moment.

Cynthia spoke a bit about meditation as a stress-relieving, mentally healing exercise all by itself, noting that there are many ways to meditate. Many people start out by focusing on a candle flame, gazing at its slow easy flicker, much as one would find it relaxing to stare into the flickering light of a campfire. One can meditate with neutral, gentle music, or nature sounds in the background, or without any sound at all.

The idea in this meditation is to release the thoughts that are running rampant in your mind - thoughts of pain, of tomorrow, of yesterday, of what ifs, of what I need to do today, etc. Recognizing, then releasing these thoughts, allowing them to float away, in favor of the sound of the music or the nature sounds or the tick of your wristwatch, allows the stress to calm. Doing this on a daily basis - again, as a newly created habit - even if only ten minutes per day, is extraordinarily helpful for chronic stress and chronic pain.

The benefits are accumulative, as are the benefits of Tai Chi. The more often and more regularly they are practiced, the less stress, and less pain you experience. We are talking about a long-term healthful lifestyle here. A method of improving your health - your stress, your immune system, your very being - from the inside out. Pulling yourself together, as it were...body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Cynthia Cortez, of T'ai Chi Meditative Lifestyle can be reached at
P.O. Box 684
South Bend, IN 46624
ph: 574-254-8358, fax: 574-259-0256

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fibromyalgia's possible biomarker - Dr. Bhatt's lecture

Fibro Notes June, 2011
A summary of the Mishawaka Fibromyalgia Support Group for June of 2011
I was honored to introduce a very special guest speaker and dear friend this evening,Dr. Kumar Bhatt of The Mishawaka Clinic. He is the man who started me on my path of discovery, and pointed me in the direction of my passion. I can never thank him enough!

As you may know we hold our meetings in the lower level of the library, where there are three various-sized meeting rooms. We generally hold our meetings in the “Friends of the Library” room which holds 25 people (as per the fire code). This had always been a sufficient-sized room in the past. It was not so this evening. Kashmira Bhatt did a bit of negotiating with the Library staff and was able to get permission for her husband to speak in the “Spencer Room,” which holds many more people! And so we were able to relocate. Thank you, Kashmira, for your powers of persuasion!

Dr. Bhatt began this evening by telling us the old adage, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” With Fibromyalgia there is no existing hammer! (Ouch- I’m not certain I like that particular analogy.) For example, it was only in1980 that the medical condition of depression had been recognized as a legitimate medical condition. There had been no hammer for this condition either! There were no regular blood tests, x-rays or obvious physical anomalies (hammers) prior to 1980 that could identify that this was a legitimate condition. So when the medical community had finally found their hammer – or rather, found the biomarkers of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine - they found that there really WAS an identifiable cause, and therefore a legitimate condition for a thing called depression. Fibromyalgia had been in the same diagnostic dilemma.

He then gave a list of conditions, where he listed side-by-side their available biomarkers – the diagnostic tools, or specific “things to look for” - with which to identify the particular medical conditions:

Rheumatoid Arthritis-~~->Serum Rheumatoid factor
Osteoarthritis-~~->Joint X-Ray (observation)
Gout-~~- >Serum Uric Acid
BBB~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ BBB
Clinical Depression-~~->Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine
Fibromyalgia-~~->Substance P, fMRI (functional Magnetic Imaging)

You may notice a difference in the type of testing that is done in these particular conditions. The first three utilize time-honored, long-standing, readily accessible and fairly inexpensive testing on body functions. Simple. Basic. Blood tests and x-rays.

Depression uses testing of neurotransmitters in the brain, and brain function - much more distinctive, complicated, expensive and not always readily available. Here we have crossed the “BBB” – the blood brain barrier. And this manner of testing is not the walk in the park presented by simple blood tests and x-rays. Neurotransmitters, by definition are fast travelers. It took a long time just to discover that they existed and what they did, they’re still not exactly sure how they work – they are electrical in nature and electricity is still a mystery in many ways, especially in the brain.

Fibromyalgia has biomarkers too – Substance P and observation via an fMRI. However, these tests are difficult, can be dangerous, are extremely expensive, and not every medical facility, doctor or patient is up for the task! So for the time being we settle for the other “markers” of Fibromyalgia, 1) at least three months of body pain, along with the typical exhaustion, sleeplessness and depression (simply from being in pain for three months, will do it – and the pain has usually gone on a LOT longer than that) and 2) eleven (more or less) out of 18 tender points test as sensitive. These are the current diagnostic tools that are readily available, inexpensive, and the least painful.

Dr. Bhatt then went on to describe diagnostic criteria for other conditions. The following were once considered diagnostic dilemmas for quite different reasons, and in a strange way, quite similar to our plight.

Tuberculosis-~~->turbecule bacillus
Peptic Ulcer Disease-~~->Helicobacter Pylori
Syphilis-~~->Treponema Pallidum
Pernicious Anemia-~~->Vitamin B12

Each of the above conditions was initially treated symptomatically. That is, each symptom was treated individually for the condition at hand. The root cause of the conditions had been unknown and so this was the only method of treatment. The problem was that in each condition one organ or system would be affected; it would be treated; then symptoms would show up in another system or organ; then that would be treated; and then it would show up somewhere else! In other words, the condition or disease was not treated, only the symptoms.

It wasn’t until a single reason was found – a root cause – for the condition that these began to be effectively treated and even cured! Tuberculosis, for example was found to be caused by a bacteria that was named turbecule bacillus. Once this was found as the cause, an antibiotic could be created to help fight it and even cure it in many cases.

Peptic Ulcer Disease had long been considered a result of anxiety or stress, much like a stomach ulcer. But with more study and research, Peptic Ulcer Disease was found to be the result of a bacterium and again, a specific antibiotic was then developed to deal with the condition and cure it. And the same thing happened with Syphilis until the bacterium was identified and it was found that penicillin as well as other antibiotics could neutralize the bacterium.

Until it was learned that a severe lack of vitamin B12, or the inability to absorb it properly, was the actual cause of Pernicious Anemia, many people died from this condition, as they did from the previously mentioned conditions. Now a simple series of B12 injections (until the B12 level is back to normal) has been found to cure this condition.

All of these listed conditions had been treated piecemeal for many years, and were ultimately considered fatal. The treatments addressed the symptoms, and not the root cause. There had been little else they could do. The symptoms changed or moved around, and even if one part was helped, it broke out in another way, or in another spot. Actually this happens with a lot of conditions, until the root cause is defined in absolute terms, and a successful treatment for that cause is determined.

Right now there is a LOT of well-funded research going on for Fibromyalgia. Some researchers suspect the root cause may have been found. Promising research in the area of serum testing of Interleukin 8 Cytokine (IL-8), an inflammatory mediator, is now under way. Fibro had never been thought to be an inflammatory condition in the past. But now the researchers are not so sure.

Dr. Bhatt drew another diagram here, but I confess I haven’t found a way to transpose it to an e-mail or blog where it is actually readable. So I’ll simplify, and pray that I can do him justice.

Omega 6 is a pro-inflammatory essential fatty acid; Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid. Our intake of these two essential fatty acids should ideally be 1:1 or 2:1 and yet it is currently calculated at 25:1 by some, and 40:1 by others -far in favor of the Omega 6’s. Soooo much more PRO-inflammatories. Our Western/American diet is absolutely LOADED with Omega 6’s, which is one reason we have so many inflammatory medical conditions running rampant in our country.

Contributors to this inflammation are the Omega 6’s found in fried fatty foods, hydrogenateds, trans fats, prepared and packaged foods with safflower, sunflower, corn oils, etc (vegetable oils). I explain this more fully in my new book Fibromyalgia Basics, so I won’t go into it here. But Dr Bhatt explained the mechanism of inflammation here. [Note: please do not mistake the beneficial antioxidant ALA Alpha Lipoic Acid, with ALA Alpha Linoleic Acid, the Omega 6.)

ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid = Omega 6) breaks down into
DGLA. DGLA breaks down (using the enzyme delta-5 desaturase) into
Arachidonic Acid, a precursor to pro-inflammatory mediators IL-8.
(The process of inflammation)

However, when the EPA-DHA of Omega 3 is available in equal amounts to the ALA Omega 6, the enzyme delta 5 desaturase becomes neutralized and would not break down the DGLA into the Arachidonic Acid. The EPA-DHA inhibits the delta 5, and so it will not break down the DGLA in this inflammatory direction. Moreover, this means it will not break down even further into interleukin-8 Cytokine (IL-8).

In other words, Omega 3 EPA-DHA anti-Inflammatory inhibits the inflammation that the pro-inflammatory Omega 6’s cause. I know, “Why didn’t I just say so?”

The reason is simple. The promising research now being done is focused on these Interleukin-8 Cytokines – this may very well be the biomarker they are looking for. Researchers are trying to find a more direct route to neutralizing these inflammatory mediators. When they find it, this may well prove to be our “Antibiotic,” or neutralizer. And there we are…looking forward to a positive identification of our biomarker. Getting one step closer!

There was a Q & A period following Dr. Bhatt’s lecture which was lively, to say the least, on a variety of pertinent subjects.

-We discussed pain meds like opioids, which aren’t very effective for many in chronic pain, and Ultram which seems to work for acute pain in some, and Elavil or Amitriptyline which can be used for a longer term without incident or addiction.
-Rheumatologists have a difficult time dealing with chronic pain, due to the fact that this pain is usually originating from the opposite side of the blood brain barrier. And not every prescription for these conditions works for everyone; some prescriptions don’t work at all for some; and it’s almost always a case of trial and error.
-The subject of chemical triggers for our Fibro-flairs was brought up. Things like salicylates, odors like household cleaning chemicals, plastics, rubber, even MSG and Aspartame and more.
-For clarification, Dr. Bhatt explained that the EPA part of Omega 3 is mostly used to neutralize inflammation, and the DHA part of Omega 3 is mostly used to benefit the brain, and conditions of and around the brain such as cognitive functions, memory, eye conditions, hearing, etc.
-The topic of Alpha Lipoic Acid, the antioxidant, came up. We talked of its use for skin sensitivity and pain (neuropathy) and RLS. And that it is often used with CoQ10 because they increase the energy metabolism. And both are excellent free radical fighters – antioxidants!
-We briefly discussed Guaifenesin. One member mentioned that her muscle pain is usually helped when taking Mucinex, which she discovered by accident when she had a cold. Dr. Bhatt stated that the main ingredient in Musinex is Guaifenesin, which is an expectorant, and may or may not help some people. But remember to always tell your doctor of anything you are taking. This medication, like anything else, can react badly with other medications.

[ This is a long article titled “The Truths and Myths of the use of Guaifenesin for Fibromyalgia” or “Guaifenesin: One Medicine, Several Effects” by Mark London at MIT. Note: Mark London has several very interesting articles on Fibromyalgia, Magnesium, and Omega 3, among others.]

-One member mentioned “The White Paper on Fibromyalgia,” put out by Johns Hopkins Medical Center, and she stated that many of the ideas and concepts about Interleukin-8 Cytokines that Dr. Bhatt had talked about was mentioned in the 70 page paper. I am trying to locate this “paper” and will pass along any further information I come across concerning it, or a website.

Dr. Kumar Bhatt and The Mishawaka Clinic is located at:
The Medical Arts Building
303 S. Main St. Suite 212
Mishawaka, IN 46544

Thank you Dr. Bhatt and Kashmira and everyone, for attending the meeting tonight and helping to make it most memorable!

My new book, Fibromyalgia Basics, has now been officially released and can be seen on’s “Look Inside” feature. You can get a signed copy at my website at securely with PayPal, check or money order. You can also go to where you will find the complete version as an E-Book for just $7.99. It is available at, too.

If you already have a copy of Fibromyalgia Basics, Thank You! Please take a minute to go to Amazon and leave a sentence or two in the review area. Librarians all over the country look up books on Amazon to see whether they want to order it for their Library. I would like to have my book in as many libraries as possible, so it is available even for those who can’t afford to buy one at this time. They need the information too! Thanks again! Pati* *J

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Good Nutrition

Fibro Notes for March 10, 2011
Hi !
Our speaker for this month was Dr. Candace Corson, a Yale-trained medical doctor specializing in Family Medicine. Soon after graduating 34 years ago, she learned that normal, basic, good nutrition was sorely lacking in the patients where she was assigned to work. This made it completely impossible to heal or cure anyone’s ailments – the common cold or even the most minor infections would literally go wild and create all sorts of long term, difficult-to-heal maladies.

Because she needed to learn about nutrition (which wasn’t included in her curriculum at Yale), she went to the west coast to study nutrition, supplements, and herbs, all manner of alternative healing methods. This put her in the most beneficial position of being able to help people at the most basic level, so that she could then actually treat people’s illnesses starting from a proper base – a healthy nutritional base. She soon found out that when the proper nutritional needs are taken care of, many illnesses and maladies, soon healed on their own. The body can actually heal itself in many cases, when good nutrition is a part of the lifestyle.

This evening Dr. Corson shared with us some of the most important facts we need to know concerning basic healthy nutrition…which can then help us move on to less pain and fewer chronic symptoms!

“You really ARE what you eat!” Dr. Corson says. Back when your grandparents and great grandparents were thriving, they ate fresh farm foods and wild foods like fresh-picked ripe blueberries, strawberries, veggies, etc. They were grown in good soil and picked when ripe with all the vitamins, minerals, probiotics, enzymes and nutrients a body needs. They also ate wild foods - free range animals like deer (venison) and wild turkey, as well as free-range pigs, beef, and chickens that ate grasses, bugs and natural foods which, when processed internally by these animals (a process called bio-concentration) created the proper foods for people to eat. Their meat was full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and the proper balance Omega 3 to Omega 6 - a ratio of 1:1.

Animals these days are fed grain (basically pro-inflammatory Omega 6) to fatten them up – especially just before they’re sent to market. This throws off the animal’s ability to process the good Omega 3 within their system. So their meat becomes loaded with Omega 6 inflammatory fatty acids, and almost totally depleted of Omega 3 – this includes the eggs from chickens too! And what little Omega 3 is still left is then destroyed by heat, air and light. So the meats, eggs, etc that we eat has a nasty balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 at the most undesireable ratio of 1:25, OR as has been measured in lactating women, up to 1:40! This means 25 to 40 times more inflammatories than should ever be in any human being! Is it any wonder we have so many inflammatory conditions in our bodies? Chrone’s disease, arthritis, lupus, heart disease, cancer and many more – all inflammatory conditions!

Your body needs fats! Without them you would die! Your brain is mostly made up of DHA essential fatty acids, after all. However, these fats must be the right KIND of fats – Omega 3, EPA-DHA, as well as ALA, essential fatty acids are ANTI- inflammatories! Hooray! Dr. Corson drew a picture of a cell on the board showing the double wall of the cells. The “proper fat” (Omega 3) should make up the outer cell wall and inner cell wall, with water as a cushion between the two. Omega 3 keeps the cell walls soft and flexible – “breathable.” These double walls, made with the proper Omega 3, allow nutrients and oxygen to flow smoothly into the cell, process the nutrients, creating energy, and then allow the waste to be released and flow out of cells.

Fatty fish and flax seeds are two excellent ways to get essential fatty acids. If fish is not a regular food for you, you may consider a supplement of Omega 3 Fish oil. (See Fibromyalgia Basics, Tate Publishing, 2011, for recommended brands and doses.) Flax seed is rich in Omega 3 ALA and tastes great in a smoothie or yogurt or even sprinkled on salads.

[By the way, sugar is an inflammatory also. And excess sugar makes your cell walls rigid, which means that nutrients like magnesium, calcium, potassium, etc, not to mention oxygen, has a hard time getting into your cells! Trans fats make the outer cell walls downright hard! Dr. Corson recommends Stevia as a natural sugar substitute. I have also found “Just Like Sugar” to be quite excellent. Both are made from plants, and are completely natural, with no calories, no artificial chemicals, and zero calories. Sucanant is another sugar substitute - with only 15 calories per teaspoon - this sweetener is dehydrated sugar cane. ]

Dr. Corson reminded us that these days fruits and veggies are sprayed with chemicals to prevent bugs from getting to them, and they are picked before they are ripe, leaving them weak in nutrients. Then they are put in a truck and shipped to our local grocery – which may take days! By the time they are on our local shelf, they are days old and sprayed again with other chemicals to make them shiny, so that they LOOK good enough to eat. These fruits and veggies, may not have the same nutritional value as the foods your grandmother ate, but it is still good to load up on all the fruits and veggies, nuts, whole grains and legumes (beans) you can eat because they are still the best way to go for overall health and well-being - they are still whole, REAL foods with antioxidants, bio-available vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc. So in spite of everything, these vitamins and minerals still fortify your body as no prescription or pill can!

Eating locally from your farmer’s market, or better yet, from your own back yard is definitely the best option. When you do shop the grocery store, be sure to 1) do the bulk of your shopping from around the outer edge aisle of the store, and 2) be certain to thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies. Dried fruits and veggies, or fresh frozen, are also quite full of nutrients and she considers them the next best thing.

The items that are processed, usually found in the center of the store - boxed and prepared/instant foods - can be causing a great deal of your pain! These items contain a lot of Omega 6 pro-inflammatory acids! Read the labels. Pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids are found in processed oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. and in cooking oils, and anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, which of course, often leads to trans fats - HEAVY inflammatories one and all! Check the labels and be sure you are not adding a lot of hydrogenated, sugared, high fructose corn syruped, and trans fats (not to mention MSG in all its forms, by all its names) to your diet! Don’t add more Omega 6. Remember, adding Omega 6’s means you are adding inflammatories! Inflammation creates pain! And it aggravates existing conditions already inflamed.

Dr. Corson spoke of milk. Did you know that a full 70 to 75% of the human population has a sensitivity to milk? The reason is simple. Milk is for nursing. Humans (and all mammals) were meant to drink milk as babies, then wean off it in a year or so. Mother Nature encourages this by adjusting our enzyme, lactase. Lactase is the enzyme which processes the lactose in milk. Babies have lots of it. But as we age to one year old or so, our body stops making it and it begins to disappear from our system. After we are finished nursing there is no longer a need for this enzyme. Dr. Corson also pointed out that humans are the only beings on earth that drink milk from another species. Wolves don’t drink buffalo milk, for example.

Sensitivity to milk can and does cause a number symptoms like sinusitis, bronchitis, thick mucus, and other allergy-like symptoms. And it can also cause inflammation and affect the insulin-like growth factor. Dr. Corson also told of many tests have shown that the more milk and cheese you consume, the higher your risk of Osteoporosis! It turns out that you lose more calcium than you take in after digestion – it creates acid in your cells and so calcium is pulled from your bones to make up for this and neutralize it. Thus less calcium in your bones.

If you want to use milk, in cereal for example, Dr. Corson recommends almond milk, or any type of nut milk. Goat’s milk is less offensive than cow’s milk, though, so that may be a possibility. With the nut milk you get the added benefit of the nuts’ protein, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Soy milk may not be for everyone as it tends to block foreign estrogens (or xeno-estrogens) and may affect the hormonal balance in some people. The website was recommended by Dr. Corson to find out more about the effects of milk.

On the other hand, yogurt is highly recommended! Good intestinal flora is a must in our bodies all the time! This becomes critical if antibiotics have been prescribed! Antibiotics are prescribed for a bacterial infection, and the only way for them to work is to kill bacteria - thus antibiotics. The problem is, they also kill the GOOD bacteria so necessary to our health, and they must be replenished. Yogurt rarely bothers someone with a mild sensitivity to milk because when yogurt is made, lactase is created, which actually helps you digest lactose. But if your sensitivity is severe, probiotics in the form of a supplement is recommended. In any case, maintaining good intestinal flora is extremely important for overall health!

We discussed oats as a wonderful whole grain food that contains especially helpful enzymes that literally work as cancer scavengers! Steel cut oats are ideal, but any oats work in this fashion.

Dr. Corson has such a wealth of information at her fingertips, that it is hard to do her justice! I cannot possibly get everything into a “short” newsletter! You really had to be there! But fear not. We will have her come again and you will have another chance to hear her wisdom!

Summing up: Omega 3 is extremely important to our bodies and helps keep inflammation at bay. Cutting back, or cutting OUT, hydrogenated foods (inflammatory Omega 6’s), trans fats and excess sugar, is very important to keep pain at bay. Adding an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes is the best thing that you can do for your body.

Dr. Corson and I highly recommend Juice Plus+, the fruits, veggies and berries in capsules, as a great way to easily get whole, real foods into your body to help build your nutritional base!

Contact Information:

Dr. Candace Corson, , cell 574-850-2039.

Pati Chandler,, cell 574-344-9998

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Chemical Sensitivities

** Fibromyalgia Support Group speaker for our March meeting was, Tamara Ciszczon, a member of our group, and a molecular biologist, who is a veritable fountain of information on toxins and chemicals as they pertain to potential and possible sensitivities in those with chronic illnesses.

Many of those with Fibromyalgia, and other chronic illnesses, are sensitive to chemicals - both inhaled and ingested. Like everything else with Fibromyalgia, there are degrees of this sensitivity, and there are specifics as to just what particular chemicals will cause what particular symptoms due to that sensitivity. Because some people's sensitivites are so severe and so many, and because of Tamara's biology and chemistry background, she has spent years of time and effort studying these chemicals and the potential they have to create symptoms. She had even put many years and effort in studying baubiology, which is a European movement about how to live in harmony with nature. This was necessary because if you are chemically sensitive in a world full of chemicals which provide us with our everyday creature comforts and cleaning necessities, it becomes quite necessary to use and live with natural products, rather than the toxic chemicals found on the open market.

This evening Tamara specifically spoke about chemicals in and around the home that may cause sensitivities to those with Fibromyalgia, or any other condition for that matter. But one can also have chemical sensitivities without any other condition to go with it - a stand alone condition as it were.

Tamara shared with us information about a chemical called Chloridane, which literally wipes out your immune system. It had been used around 1987-1990 as insecticide sprays for termites, freely sprayed all around outside and inside homes at the time. It is an oganophosphate, which will never break down and disipate indoors, it must be physically removed. Sunlight is the only thing that can break it down - and that takes years. Symptoms? Dyspnea (difficulty breathing), wheezing, peripheral muscle weakness, skeletal muscle weakness, anxiety, twitching muscles, abdominal cramps and more...Google "organophosphates" for more. To find out if this chemical is lurking in your older home, you can call and have an air-quality test done. Realtors usually have names of companies who do this type of testing.

VOC's were discussed. Volatile Organic Oils. These are things like paint thinners, listerine, carbon monoxide, nail polish remover, turpentine, etc. I don't know about anyone else, but these things bothered me BEFORE Fibromyalgia. But now these things actually seem to literally change my body, creating all sorts of havoc when I'm around them, so I make a point of keeping them out of my life!

The "cides" were discused. Germicides, insecticides, algicides, etc that we may even have under the sink in the kitchen or bathroom. These are household cleaners. The common cleaners that are available everywhere to disinfect and clean your home, kitchen counter tops, bathtub and toilets. Think about it. These items are STRONG chemicals. If they are in the house, you are getting them in your system everytime you breathe them in. If you feel it necessary to use any of these items, please, at least use a face mask - this will help dissipate some of the effect. (My husband sometimes uses pain thinners in the basement, and swears he can't smell them. I DO. I use a face mask and stay out of the basement. Sometimes I even leave the house!)

There are many natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, Seventh Generation cleaners, and others. And of course, there are the Shaklee Products, which are about the only household cleaners and items that Tamara can use. In fact she was so taken with them that she became a Shalee Dealer! See her contact information below.

There was so much to tell us that I'm afraid I cannot possibly do her justice. She talked of Sick Building Syndrome, of synthetic materials like plastics and rubber, of contrast medical dyes when having medical tests done, of heavy metals in the home, as well as the teeth - amalgam fillings in her teeth for example - and aluminum pots and pans and cast iron,and teflon (ugh).

She recommended we have the metal amalgam fillings in our teeth be considered as an unwanted chemical in our bodies and as a possible sensitivity causing physical issues! She recommended using stainless steel pots and pans, or glass. Aluminum in deodorants may be a factor as well. There are several brands which are readily available without aluminum in them. You are rolling or spraying this aluminum under your arms, directly onto your lymph nodes, where absorption is a matter of fact! Switch now! Tom's of Maine, Jason, Shaklee, Crystal and other companies make aluminum-free deodorants. A build-up of heavy metals can create all sorts of medical issus and some of them are not reversible!

When discussing chemicals and their potential and possible dangers we are talking about affecting your body in so many ways. In those of us with Fibromyalgia, these symptoms can show up as sinus blockage, watery eyes, runny nose, or as headaches or migraines, or anxiety or "fuzzy thinking" and disorientation, or as stomach issues with gas and cramping, or muscle pain issues or stiff neck and/or sore neck and shoulder areas. Certain illnesses related to these types of sensitivities range from allergies to Parkinson's Disease, asthma to Sick Building Syndrome and much more...Please be aware and take care!

For more information about his topic you can contact Tamara via her website at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Basics

Hi Everyone and Happy Valentine's Day!

Our Support Group this month was small and cozy. We had two new folks this month - a mom and daughter who share the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, one more recently diagnosed than the other. But, and as always, it presents somewhat differently for each of them. Thanks to the brave souls who came. It had been forcasted to snow again that evening and we were all concerned about getting snowed in, but alas...Mother Nature pulled a back-flip on us and it was sunny all day and, as we sat waiting for the other shoe to drop, it never did! Ah well, that just shows that you can't out think Mother Nature!

Because we had two new folks who needed the benefit of knowing "how to begin" and "what to do" and "is this all there is?" and "why doesn't my doctor know what to do?" We spent our evening with the basics. *:)

We covered doctors. Some doctors still don't believe in Fibro; some don't know what to do with it, except write a Rx; and still others will write all kinds of Rx! So we talked about Osteopaths and Naturopaths and the fact that they treat the whole body - the person - instead of just symptoms. Integrative Medical Physicians blend Western Medicine with holistic (or whole body) medicine, but these doctors are hard to find. I have handouts on the counter for all our members, and I made sure they each got a list of Fibro-friendly doctors in our area. These are the doctors (and other health care practitioners) that people in our group have recommended - they are Osteopaths, Naturopaths, Rheumatologists, Acupuncturists, Reflexologists, Physical Therapists and more. Many modes of treatments represented here - they all help.

We covered the basics of what they feel in their body, and yes, pain is a universal for all of us, as is lack of decent sleep and exhaustion of course. But there are many different kinds of pain. We covered nerve pain (and/or skin sensitivity), and discussed Dr. Kelly Boyer, ND and how they now use a treatment of Alpha Lipoic Acid in an IV dosage once a week that seems to work quite well for nerve pain in nearly all her Fibro patients. Dr. Boyer is a Naturopathic Doctor originally from the Born Clinic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Passisni, MD shares the work with Dr. Boyer now in a Borne clinic subsidiary here in Indiana, called Crossroads Healing Arts in Goshen, IN.

We talked about EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, for pain too. And, as it happens (if you believe in accidents) Dr. OZ had a section about EFT on Tuesday's show, earlier that day - so everyone knew exactly what I was talking about! I gave everyone the basic website for more information to follow up. Later I shared another website I've found particularly helpful for EFT, with Robert Smith. I also gave everyone Therese Harmon's information because she is a local EFT practitioner and can help in person. Check out her website, .

Then we discussed nutrition, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and beans - whole, REAL foods, loaded with antioxidants, which help Fibromyalgia pain. The more the better, because they decrease inflammation for any other conditions you may share with Fibro, and they boost your already weakened immune system which is a MUST for us, and of course, add whole REAL absorbable-type nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamins, enzymes, prebiotics and so on, that make it possible for our bodies to function effectively and optimally on all cylinders! Antioxidants are also found in all the new items like Acai Juice (or capsules), Mangostene, Pomegranate, Goji Juice, Xocai Chocolate which has lots of antioxidants, and Juice Plus+, which is fruits, veggies and berries in capsules - all of which contain their respective antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, enzymes and probiotics. To find out more about Juice Plus+ go to .

We talked about the basic core beneficial supplements for helping the pain of those with Fibromyalgia, which are: Omega 3 EPA-DHA, Magnesium and Malic Acid. We also discussed Alpha Lipoic Acid in capsule form, for use as 1) a super powerful antioxidant, and 2) nerve pain. In my upcoming book Fibromyalgia Basics: A Beginner's Guide, to be released this spring by Tate Publishing, I tell of the University of Maryland Medical School recommending 800 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid for those with diabetic neuropathy, and 400 mg (in divided doses of 100 mg each e.g., 4 times per day) for nerve pain caused by other factors, including Fibromyalgia. After several months, a maintenance dose of 200-300 mg per day works quite well.

Covering the basics for newcomers, always includes informing them:

~that there is a LOT of help out there;

~not everything works for everyone;

~trial and error of a variety of treatments such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, mild exercise, etc, is encouraged;

~there really ARE doctors out there who know what to do, but it may take some looking - DON't settle - find the RIGHT doctor for you;

~and most importantly, that "You are NOT alone! "

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fibromyalgia & Restless legs

Hi Everyone!
We had a "Casual Tuesday" at our Fibromyalgia Support Group this month, i.e. no speaker, but rather I planned an informal discussion of our specific concerns, things that have helped, things that haven’t helped, favorite doctors, speakers we’d like to hear, etc. This was the plan. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. I have a bumper sticker taped to my dresser mirror - A Yiddish proverb which says, “People plan, God laughs.”

From the first day of snow in this winter of 2010-2011, we have had a total snowfall of 70” in our little area of the world…so far, and a bunch of it fell Tuesday! A couple of real troopers were able to make it in and I thank them for their extraordinary efforts.

The three of us actually covered a wide range of topics ranging from migraines to sleep apnea, cold weather and pain in the hands, the effect of odors and of dry eye with Fibromyalgia, and supplements to help stress – stress from severe temperatures to emotional stress to the stress on your body caused by illness. But we had a special request via e-mail from one member and I’d like to address this for now.

One of our members from St. Joe, Michigan has been doing much better recently – and he’s been working very hard at it. He wrote and said that one specific problem is still particularly vexing and asked if I would bring it up to the group and see if anyone had any ideas on what he could do.

At night his muscle twitching in various parts of his body can even be felt by his wife as it reverberates through their waterbed. He says it feels as if his muscles are quivering. When he moves the muscle, the twitching stops. Then, he stated, “None of his doctors can explain this.” (This mystified me.) Anyone out there familiar with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)? Because he is still on a number of prescriptions, for heart and other issues, there is a limit to what he can take, medication-wise. However there are still a number of things he can do.

My RLS symptoms disappeared over eleven years ago after I began using Alpha Lipoic Acid, Omega 3 and Magnesium/Potassium, and found my Sleep Number Bed. For me, this particular combination helped a number of issues, but it’s really hard to tell which one (if it was only one) that did the deed to help the RLS. But this evening we were fortunate to have T.M. here to describe her experience with this particular symptom.

When I read his e-mail to the group, the first thing she said was “Get rid of the waterbed.” She said that she had had one too. But she found that a medium mattress (not firm, not soft) with a pillow-top matress pad absorbed the movement of the muscles, and her husband didn’t feel her twitching at all. (I wonder if a pillow-top pad on TOP of the waterbed would make a difference. And would HE feel it less also?) She also uses 600 to 800 count sheets – much softer – non-abrasive to the sensitive skin which she felt may aggravate the twitching. She also cut out coffee and pop and eats lots of fruits and veggies, which she is certain has helped too. She seldom has any issues with it now.

I checked online for natural help and this a portion of what I found:

Recommendations from Tyler Woods, PhD posted at and from Dr. Ray Sahelian involve letting go of caffeine, as in coffee, soft drinks, even chocolate, and stopping the use of tobacco. They tell that exercise can help, even wiggling the toes (or the Toe & Ankle exercises described in my book, Managing Fibromyalgia-Getting to know your Aggravators, 2008, Treble Heart Books). And even something as simple as a cup of Passion Flower tea or Chamomile tea before bed can help - these are very relaxing and soothing to muscles – the whole body, in fact. Here’s another very informative website for RLS .

Before taking any supplements recommended by any or all of these websites, such as iron, magnesium, B-Vitamins, folic acid, etc, it is best to discuss them with your physician, especially when taking other medications or prescriptions as they may cause an unexpected interaction.

One other form of treatment that may help is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), a form of needle-less acupuncture that you can perform yourself. . I have found this method of self- treatment extraordinarily helpful for sleep issues, for anxiety, depression, back pain, neck pain and more. Dr. Mercola tells how it has helped some people even get through Fibromyalgia itself!

Even if EFT helps a symptom here and a symptom there - one or several - it is free, it is painless, it's absolutely non-invasive and it may work. What do you have to loose? Pain. RLS? Migraine. Stomach issues? Anxiety...