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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Healing Bursitis And Tendonitis

Saturday, November 08, 2008
While some of us are more bony than others, nature has fortunately provided all of us with miniature ‘cushions’ in specific joints, to help prevent our bones from rubbing against each other. These ‘cushions’ are called bursa, and are literally small sacs of connective tissue filled with fluid of an egg-white consistency, synovial fluid.

The knee joint is one area well supplied with these bursae. There are two: The pre patellar bursa which is in front of your kneecap, and the suprapatellar bursa, which sits just above and behind your kneecap. There are two bursae in your shoulder too – located deep within the joint to help cushion the complex arrangement of bones and large range of movement of this joint. Some tendons in the body are also provided with bursa-like sheaths, particularly in areas where there are large numbers of tendons crammed together, increasing the potential for constant friction – as within wrists and ankles.

The bursae can become inflamed or be damaged as easily as other areas of the body. Frequent causes of injury are over-use, infection, or auto-immune disorders such as rheumatism.  ‘Tennis elbow’ or ‘Housemaid’s Knee’ are commonly used expressions for soft tissue injuries in these joints.

Damage to a joint, whether due to bursitis or other cause, manifests as stiffness or limitations in movement, and pain. To put it simply, if you feel pain when moving a joint, something in it needs attention. 

The best natural treatments for bursitis are both internal and external. Nutrients can reduce the inflammation and provide the raw materials for cells to repair themselves. Herbal creams or ointments can penetrate to help the joint heal. As with all musculo-skeletal injuries, manipulative therapies will speed the healing process. Massage can promote blood flow to the area and removal of wastes, and soothe muscles which have worked hard to compensate for problems in movement. Acupuncture can be of particular benefit too.

If you are interested in the psychosomatic basis for body problems, the joints represent ease of movement through life and flexibility with change. Shoulder problems can indicate a heavy load of burdens in life to carry.

Rest of the affected area for several weeks is essential - it takes that long for the tissue to heal to a point where it won’t be injured easily again.

Understandably, the earlier you treat an inflamed joint, the sooner it will heal and the sooner you will be out of pain and mobile again. It may seem easier to try to ignore the problem in the hope that it will just go away. But pain is a sign from your body that it needs attention. Your health professional can help you decide which form of treatment is best for you.

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Antioxidants: Why You Need Them And Where To Get Them

Saturday, November 08, 2008
As there are so many foods now advertised as ‘rich in antioxidants’, I thought I’d let you know just what antioxidants are, why you need them, and the best foods to eat to obtain a good supply.

We can’t help producing free radicals – they occur as part of breathing and moving and metabolising food. Fighting off infection creates free radicals too. Our bodies have an in-built capability to deal with a certain amount of these destructive molecules. But then we pick up extra free radicals from modern life: pollution, as well as radiation from the sun, and cigarette smoke. The best way to deal with the damaging effects of modern life is to strengthen your body’s ability to fight free radicals effectively: increase your intake of antioxidants.

In the process of creating energy, molecules within your cells exchange electrons. As part of this, some molecules are left unbalanced, missing an electron. They are desperate to become balanced again, and will quickly steal an electron from another molecule. This can set off a cascade of destructive biochemical reactions that damage cell membranes and your DNA; making you more susceptible to the chronic diseases of aging like cancer, and cardiovascular disease. 

The more free radicals you’re exposed to, and the lower your antioxidant status, the faster you’re likely to age. That’s why people who smoke cigarettes tend to look older than the rest of us.

Many of our foods already contain these antioxidants, particularly foods that contain vitamin C, vitamin E, or any of the many minerals that go into making new antioxidants within the body.

In our food, you can find antioxidants in all raw fruits and vegetables.

You can arrange for a test of your own free radical status through your naturopath. They will do a urine test which measures the amount of malondialdehyde, a by-product of free radical formation. 

If you are keen to slow the ageing process, or speed up your recovery from chronic illness, you can take antioxidant supplements. There are many different varieties, and each works in a different way to achieve the same outcome. One of the best is superoxide dismutase, which works to halt the free radical cascade as soon as it begins.

Even if you’re taking antioxidant supplements, you still need to make sure your diet contains plenty of fresh raw fruits and vegetables. You could enjoy some fresh fruit with your breakfast, a freshly prepared vegetable juice with your lunch, and some fresh berries or red grapes for dessert. All these foods will help boost your antioxidant status.

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Bad Breath

Saturday, November 01, 2008
It’s the problem even your closest friends have trouble mentioning.  Excuse me ………but your breath ……well ………’s not too sweet!

Bad breath can originate from several places in the body, but wherever it comes from, its all about bacteria.

1. Teeth or gums in bad condition, particularly teeth that need filling, are a breeding ground for some very odorous bacteria. If you haven’t had a dental check up for a while, or don’t floss regularly, this is the place to start your investigation.

2. One of the most common causes of bad breath however is what’s happening in the intestines. People with bad breath are often constipated. Generally speaking, you should have a bowel movement every day. If you don’t, take a look at some aspects of your diet:

- are you drinking enough pure water? (You need at least two litres every day)
- are you eating enough fibre? (You need 25-35g every day, from vegetables especially)
- Are you relaxed? Muscle tension from stress, particularly emotional stress, can affect the bowel muscles, and the production line that is our digestive process comes to a halt.

An effective way to check your bowel transit time is to eat some cooked beetroot – about 200-300g. The beetroot will colour your faeces, but won’t harm you. Ideally, you’ll see the results within 12-24 hours. Less than 12 hours means your bowels are too fast, more than 24 hours is too slow. (Keep in mind that beetroot will colour your urine temporarily red too.)

3. Intestines are heavily populated with bacteria – some are good, actively helping the digestive process along. Some bacteria are not so helpful. In an unhealthy bowel, the conditions are right for bad bacteria and fungi can grow unchecked. If digested food remains too long in your digestive tract fermentation starts, creating some very unpleasant smells.

Naturopaths approach the treatment of bad breath originating in the intestines like you would approach an overgrown garden – where there are unwanted weeds all over the place, and the conditions aren’t right for the good plants to grow. But get rid of the weeds, and improve the soil and feeding, then the good plants will bloom. The right herbs and probiotics bacteria are the tools we use.

A final test – have a look at your tongue in the mirror. Is it heavily coated with fur, particularly yellow fur?  If so, it’s probable that your metabolism is out of shape and your liver is struggling. This can contribute to bad breath too.

A cup of peppermint tea can help mask any bad breath, but if you’ve developed this unfortunate condition, its time to start investigating where it has come from.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy 'If Your Gums Could Talk'

Image credit: Duboix via MorgueFile

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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