The Great Do-Over Pt. 2 – Sleep, Rosehips, Nettles, Lemon Balm and Digestion

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I have begun the process of re-prioritizing my health and the choices that I make which impact it.  The latter is a long list, sigh.  It’s a funny thing how the mind can convince you that just because you know better means you are doing right.  It doesn’t.   I know how to ensure quality restorative sleep.  I do  the opposite.  I know how to feed and fortify my body against disease and illness.  I choose to eat as much taxing junk as I can get away with.  I know how to release and protect against the serious damage of daily and circumstantial stress.   I act like every other over stressed, adrenally fatigued person I know.   I know how to use herbs to rebuild my body, but I fail to do much but forget them in my cabinet because herbs heal by shear proximity, right?
Step one has been to take a good look at all these moment by moment, day by day choices and see what reality I’ve created over the past couple of years, the proof being in the pain pudding.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been consistently replacing breakfast and lunch with a large mug of broth.  This is one that I thought would be difficult, especially with the whole family at home eating actual meals, but it hasn’t been difficult at all.  As I’m beginning this I am dealing with

  • one or two days of pain per month,
  • at least two weeks of heavy fatigue each month,
  • difficulty in falling asleep, difficulty in staying asleep,
  • difficulty digesting food (stomach bloating, churning)
  • several times per month I get a terrible electrical feeling in my body that is tied to intestinal irritation
  • sensitivity to gluten, guar and xantham gum, carageenan, corn derivatives, beans, tomato sauce/paste, potato and potato derivatives

These are all things that allow me to live my life, but limit it surely.  My goal is to regain complete health and freedom from all Fibro/CFS symptoms as I did for 2008/09.

To prepare I placed a bulk order with Mountain Rose Herbs.  I will outline each of the herbs as I add them to my routine.

To help with sleep I have begun using approximately 30 drops of Skullcap tincture along with 5 drops of Motherwort tincture, and 5 drops of Five Flower Formula.  I take it twenty minutes before going to bed.  Whenever possible I take a 30 minute long bath that is as hot as I can tolerate (meaning I have to ease myself into it very slowly and likely don’t lay down for several minutes – about 112 degrees) just before going to bed.  If I’ve done it right when I get out of the bath I will have the “I need to lay down and don’t care if I’m dry” feeling and will fall directly to sleep.  If I’m having a night where I feel certain that I won’t fall asleep readily I add a soothing essential oil to the bath like Lavender or Clary Sage (clary sage being my preference), and drink a night time tea that includes things like chamomile, passionflower, etc.  On such nights I play an effective guided relaxation/hypnosis/meditation by Jan Bennet Collier while I fall asleep.

Sleep is a top priority.  Nothing else that I can do will bring the heft of results that restorative sleep will bring.  This week’s goal is to regain control of my bedtime and what I do with myself in the hour leading up to it.  I long ago abandoned my nighttime routine and schedule to disastrous results.  This week I’m aiming for a consistent 10:30pm bedtime, with no stimulating media for an hour before bed.  This means that I will be staying off of the computer (or TV if I had one) and be skipping any books that are emotionally charged or cognitively stimulating, in favor of soothing, calming works like Shambhala Sun Magazine, Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chodron, etc.  These are things that bring me a sense of peace, quiet and certainty at the end of a day.  In fact I need to get back to reading them until I regain that place of keeping peace, quiet and certainty with me throughout the day.  If you read through the Cage Free Family archives you can see those things slip from my writing over time.  I regain them here and there, but I eventually lose them and lose my thread of writing altogether.

Of the herbs that I ordered I have introduced three of them into my every day, Lemon Balm, Rosehips, and Stinging Nettles.  I drink the Lemon Balm and Rosehips together as my morning tea, which I have with my cup of broth when I first wake up.  Together they make a really yummy citrusy tea with added honey.  I brew them, covered, for 15 minutes each morning.

The Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and is powerfully soothing to the nervous system treating everything from anxiety and depression to very tough viruses like Herpes and Mono.  It eases the heart and the mind (much like Motherwort) and is a wonderful tonic not just for those with chronic illness or sleeplessness, but for anyone dealing with daily stress.  It has long been absent from my routine, and I am better for having it back.

Rosehips, which are actually the fruit of the rose bush, boast one of the most concentrated sources of Vitamin C available from plant or animal. In addition, they contain assimilable and high levels of iron.  Not by accident, the key to digesting and using iron is the presence of Vitamin C.  They strengthen the tissues of the body, support the vascular system, are cooling to the body and tonic for the mind, they treat chronic diahreah as well as stomach weakness.  Native American’s used Rosehips to treat muscle cramps, and they contain many vitamins and other beneficial supplements, including lycopene, essential fatty acids, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, pectin, sugar, resin, wax, malates, citrates and other salts, tannin, malic and citrus acids, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, zin c and vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, C, D, E and K.

For the all-amazing Nettles I make an infusion every night before bed and drink it all day.  Aside from it’s truly incredible list of balanced vitamins, minerals and protein (yes, protein!!) it is long renowned for it’s benefits for the kidneys (one of our toxin elimination pathways) and the adrenal system (what sick person isn’t dealing with adrenal stress, heck, what modern person isn’t?)   Herbalist Susun Weed says “A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.  There is no denser nutrition found in any plant, not even bluegreen algae; and nettle is much more reasonably priced than any supplement, especially if you buy more than an ounce or two at a time.”  It is amazing for increasing energy and general wellbeing.  For more info click here.

In addition to the herbs I am dealing with my poor digestion with the introduction of Betaine HCI and a pancreatic enzyme that contains amylase, protease, and lipase.  I have found that taking these with a meal eliminates the painful bloating and the hours of churning.  Both are available at any herb or natural food store as well as many sources online like Amazon.

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10 responses »

  1. Your list of food sensitivities sounds like the no-no list from the paleo diet. Grains, legumes, and the nightshade family contain mild toxins that cause problems for some people. There are lots of sources about the diet, one of my favorites is the blog at http://www.marksdailyapple.com/. He’s got a book “The Primal Blueprint”, and there’s one by another guy “Perfect Health Diet” that lay things out more orderly than the blog.

    I’m not 100% on the diet, but just cutting back on these foods has made a huge difference for me. The blogs and websites on the diet give out good ideas of things to add to the diet to replace what you’re missing. If you’re going to be on a diet for life, you’ve got to find things you really like that work with the diet.

    • Hi Denise,

      Yes, the GAPS, SCD, and Paleo diets have a lot of similarities. The GAPS and SCD (both are gut healing protocols) are almost identical with only a handful of food items which differ between them. The goal with the GAPS diet, however, is not to remain on the diet for life, but rather to remain on the diet for 2-3 years while the gut and then body are brought back to their genetic intent, then to transition to a Nourishing Traditions style diet that focuses on proper preparation of foods like grains and legumes to make them available to the body. When I did the GAPS diet before I sadly only kept with it for about 6-8 months. I can’t be sure. Even that short amount of time afforded me a year of ability to eat almost anything without a return to symptoms.

      I am a very firm believer in the health benefits of fermented, soaked and sprouted grains and legumes. I just can’t digest them because of the leaky gut syndrome. The undigested strands of caesin and glutens make their way into the bloodstream through a damaged gut lining and then wreak havoc in cells and brain.
      Eaten in moderation after proper preparation a healthy gut should handle grains just fine for overall benefit to the whole organism. I’m just not there yet.

      That’s what I tell myself every day… I’m just not there yet… I have been there before… I will be there again… Until then I will be patient. LOL

      All the best,
      Aimée

      • Yeah, I’m trying to learn to become less squeamish about the fermented foods thing. I never liked vinegar, so that rules out a lot of the preparations, but I may go for real sourdough to have my bread back. I used to be quite a bread baker, but I’ve been too busy of late to keep up with weekly sourdough baking.

        I saw a recipe for fermented salsa, that might be good, but again I’m being squeamish. Easier for me to just avoid those foods altogether.

        By Nourishing Traditions, you mean the Weston A Price foundation diet?

      • Denise, You might want to take a look at the book Wild Fermentation. There are many ways to get your ferments on without vinegar, brine, or veggies. There may be some things that appeal to you. I’m a lover of sweet pickles, yogurt, kefir, meade, yogurt cheese, etc. Fruit relishes are awesome too.

        I understand there is a big difference in flavor and texture between using an air-lock container and using the compression method to ferment veggies.

        If none of those things appeal there is always the condiment route. You can make lacto-fermented ketchup, mayo, mustard etc. that taste just like the less healthy options.

        Best,
        A

  2. Dear Aimee, i hav ejust found your blog and am very intrigued. it has been a long time since you have written on your blog, how is the Gaps diet going for you

  3. Sorry Aimee, i never finished my reply…….i am interested to hear how you are going on gaps.
    I also suffer fibromyalgia and don’t knw where to turn to. I have a friend who has been on gaps for 2 years and it seems she is always in the kitchen, her entire life is about food . I am gluten free, sugar free, legume free but still have pain. I don’t sleep well and have become very sceptical about everything but your story and enthusiasm is so very inspiring. sending you much loving energy Maryxxxx

  4. Thank you so much for sharing the herbs and tinctures you take. My 80yo MIL has fibromyalgia and she continues to not get any relief. I’ve already place my order at mountain rose. I’m anxious to make the tea and infusion for her.

    • Hi Lydia, You are very welcome. Please take the time to be sure that any herbs you use are not going to negatively interact with any prescription medication she may be taking. I have recently begun taking the St. Johns and Skullcap again to deal with a neck injury that turned into a chronic (3 month long!) headache. It has worked wonders when nothing else would. I should have turned to it sooner, and have no idea why I didn’t!

  5. How is your progress? My DH is presumed celiacs, rheumatoid arthritis and possibly is starting to show signs of Fibromyalgia. We’ve been attempting to do GAPS since March, but getting the Fibromyalgia diagnosis has really caused him to get serious about it. We found your blog and would love to hear how you are doing now. Christie

  6. It will take a few more REBELS to change what needs to be changed.
    I hope that the quiet on the blog means that You are too busy with a happy, safe and being well LIFE.

    If not, drop me a line. I went a similar path, with similar frustration, setbacks and FEAR where I often needed remembering my own adage of: “Nature, given half a chance is a self repairing system. Just give it half a chance.”

    What I didn’t know was that Nature needs a few little chances instead of one half chance, a dynamic combination.

    I took much inspiration from a hacker, a rebel who said:
    Nobody can give you freedom
    nobody can give you
    equality or justice
    If you are a man
    you take it

    As nothing ever worked, I started at the most basic level, elements / atoms and worked myself through that level. Successfully and I am stable now at long last. So I’m about to get onto the next level. I’m considering GAPS, chelation or just a few fermented foods to give the rough foundation a nice building to live in a happy, safe and being well LIFE.

    Don’t know yet.

    But I will find out!

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