Thursday, 6 December 2007

Herbal cures for pressure sores

Isn’t it incredible, and evil, how much pain one little scabby sore can cause?

Take that pea-size patch at the bottom of your spine. Just under the coccyx Ouuch! If you’re immobile – and who with progressive MS isn’t? - there it will be. Fixed. for life. A permanent fixture. Part of your new anatomy and more alive than the rest. Ironic. Not funny.

You sit back in your chair – at its best and most “pressure-relieving” cushioned – and bang: you’re right on it. You wriggle, you’re not comfortable, the scabby edge lifts. If it bleeds you’re in real trouble. The pain, pinching and raw is excruciating, you scream (if someone’s with you and you’re trying to be polite/tough (when aren’t you the latter?) silently/imperceptibly – you might just pull a “pained” face). You try to lift yourself forward and oww, there’s the new ones forming on your buttocks.

You can’t sit. You can’t stand (your legs won’t hold you up and that’s a whole differnt ball-game of pain) and you can’t lie down. The sores are always with you (that reminds me of something!).

They’re on your bottom, your elbows, your heels. There’s no escape.

Perhaps I am being a bit flippant here. Sorry, it’s my way. I mean, if it weren’t so tragic it would be funny wouldn’t it, to someone (I usually think the Devil)? Anyway I laugh in the face of adversity, and, of course, look for ways to deal with things.

I decided to share with you what I use because it seems to work and I know so many people (not just MSers of course), are suffering too much and having to have anti-biotics and dressings. Which calls for lots of nursing and is a nuisance for everyone (including financially, the NHS (or equivalent in your country)).

Also, a friend on an MS Forum went down with them (bed-ridden for the forseeable future), and that breaks my heart.

I’m not the only one who uses marigold/calendula ointment (I know that because Tom, of course, works at a Herbalist’s*) and it has a great reputation for healing pressure-sores. But, as we were saying, there’s many – iincluding all conventional practitioners – who don’t.

In this family we have been astonished, and thrilled, by the superlative powers of the marigold flower to heal, for many years. Every little scratch and tear, cut and blister, spot and indescribable blemish. Eczema, psoriasis, you name it, it’ll be fading within minutes of application and in the case of a cut, closing before your very eyes. The miraculous marigold flower.
Just smear some over the beginnings of a pressure-sore. Re-apply maybe every few hours (with me it’s usually daily) and voila, ecco, gone before you know it.

It is best to get it early though because if you do leave them too long (or maybe someone with dementia for instance isn’t able to let anyone know in time; or an MSer might not feel it getting bad) they may become badly infected and possibly even threaten the bloodstream and so, life (septicaemia). If they get infected you do need an anti-biotic.

And the best one to use is also herbal (God’s counter to all this [“... and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” – Gen 9:3]): golden seal (either powder-into-paste or a fluid-extract – again smeared over wound), you will kill the bacteria without doing damage to the rest of your body. Golden seal will eat a pus-ridden thing away.

Both marigold (aka calendula) and golden seal are antiseptic and anti-fungal.

So, my prescription:
- marigold/calendula ointment
- golden seal (as powder formed with water into paste, or fluid-extract)

Available at any good herbalist’s (see below for mail order).

Ensure you are using pressure-relieving cushions on all seats and, if possible, the same with your mattress. (A profiling bed is worth it’s weight in gold. If necessary, beg, borrow or... (no, just those two!), one I did and am so grateful for it.)

Also: keep up the anti-Candida/yeast diet; supplements, herbs and essential oils (see October posts). A lot to do with these things is fungal.

May the sores not be with you!

*G Baldwin & Co., Medical Herbalist
Tel: 0207 703 5550

Friday, 12 October 2007

Supplements, Herbs & Essential Oils

(which I use in my anti-Candida/MS "regime")

(available from all good Health Food Stores)

- pro-biotic - dairy-free if allergic to milk - beware of FOS (fructooligosaccharides) if fructose intolerant, I am;
- extra-virgin olive oil - lots of it;
- garlic - fresh if possible or else odour-free capsules/tablets - lots of it;
(N.B. All the above help to kill Candida.)
- evening primrose oil (I use Quest capsules);
- multi-vitamins – I use Nature’s Own “Food State”;
- biotin – extra to multi-vits;
- B-complex – extra as above;
- B12 – extra as above;
- zinc – extra as above;
- lysine - if prone to herpes, I am.

(I do not recommend that you use these herbs or in these quantities. I ony relay to you what I have used, successfully, for years (17 as I write!). I do recommend, however, the herbal book by David Hoffman** as well as, again, the book on Candida by Leon Chaitow*. Any good herbalist will stock all herbs mentioned and supply by mail-order. I give you details of Baldwins*** below.)

‘p’ = ‘powder’, ‘h’ = ‘natural herb’, ‘t.s.’ = ‘teaspoons’; all “dosages” given are per day;

- echinacea (p) - alterative (“blood-cleanser”) good for whole being)/antiseptic/decongestant/great against coughs and colds/good for skin - 3 one-third t.s.;
- sage (p) – antiseptic/anti-fever (sweating)/emmenagogue (balances female hormones (sage replaces oestrogen))/anti-depressant/clears headaches/heals sore throats – 3 one-third t.s.; gargle for throats;
- damiana (p) – nervine (nerve tonic)/anti-depressant/emmenagogue/aphrodisiac (esp. for men) – 2 one quarter t.s.;
- kola (p) – nerve stimulant/anti-depressant– 3 large pinches
- cayenne pepper (p) – the best natural stimulant for the whole body/antiseptic/frees MS urine – one third t.s.;
- willow bark (p) – anti-inflammatory/anti-spasmodic/ anodyne (pain-killer) – 3 capsules (NB all the above can go in 3 different powder mixes a day);
- eyebright (h) – eye tonic/can be used as eye-wash in conjunctivitis/blepharitis – 2 t.s.;
- golden rod (h) – strengthens respiratory system– one and half t.s.;
- lavender flowers (h) - nervine (nerve relaxant)/anti-depressant/clears headaches/aids sleep – a dozen in tissane (small tea) or mixed in tea with other herbs;
- chickweed (h) – anti-itching/cooling/diuretic/laxative - 4 t.s. made into tea and used – when cool! – as lotion for healing/controlling eczema/psoriasis; one t.s. in tea for drinking;
- nettles (h) – vit. C/multi-mineral/cooling/anti-hisytamine – 2 t.s. in tea;
- parsley (h) – vit. C/multi-mineral/anti-depressant/emmenagogue – 2 t.s. in tea and on food;
- burdock (h) – alterative/diuretic – one t.s. in tea;
- red-clover (h) – anti-cough and asthma/emmenagogue/mild sedative/strengthens nerves – one-quarter t.s.;
- skull-cap (p) – sedative/strong nerve tonic/anodyne (esp. spasmodic legs) – one quarter t.s. when needed;
- myrrh (p) - anti-fungal/antiseptic– tip of t.s. (see next);
- golden seal (p) – anti-biotic (broad-spectrum)/good mixed with eyebright for eye-wash or drops/good with myrrh for brushing teeth – small pinch as anti-biotic (when necessary); tip of t.s. for teeth.

Essential Oils (aromatherapy):
- lavender – anti-depressant/clears headache/nervine;
- geranium – anti-depressant;
- rose – /anti-depressant/emmenagogue/aphrodisiac;
- tea-tree – antiseptic (very strong) – used as gargle and room freshener.

* CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem? by Leon Chaitow N.D. D.O.. Published by Healing Arts Press, USA (1998). ISBN: 0-89281-795-X

** HOLISTIC HERBAL A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies by David Hoffman. Published by Harper Collins. ISBN: 0007 14 5411

*** G.Baldwin & Co. Medical Herbalist. Tel: 0207 703 5550. email:

Anti-Candida Diet

(with my own additions)

For the sake of brevity, please forgive further lists: this time of foods, etc. we musn’t have – ‘NO’ – and those we can – ‘YES’. I refer you again to Leon Chaitow’s book*.

- yeast;
- sugar;
- dairy (except live yoghurt and cottage cheese if not allergic to milk*);
- alcohol;
- smoked foods;
- pickles (inc. vinegars and sauces);
- tomatoes;
- refined grains (i.e. white flour);
- meats which contain anti-biotics (i.e. beef, pork, battery chickens);
- fruit (due to sugar content though some can tolerate some*).

N.B. Don’t forget mushrooms are fungus and no anti-biotics (unless essential) or steroids.

- all vegetables and salad ingredients (except tomatoes/mushrooms);
- garlic, chillies (see ‘Herbs list) and all spices;
- extra-virgin olive oil;
- live yoghurt and cottage cheese (see above);
- wholegrain cereals (i.e. rice, pasta (gluten-free if coeliac));
- organic meats, game and poultry (i.e. free-range chickens);
- lamb;
- fish;
- yeast-free bread;
- (and me) pizza (with lots of garlic, olives and chillies to counter the things I shouldn’t have) - just because it cheers me up!

* CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem? by Leon Chaitow N.D. D.O.. Published by Healing Arts Press, USA (1998). ISBN: 0-89281-795-X

Symptoms of Candida Albicans

(with help from Leon Chaitow* to compensate for memory-loss!):

- anxiety;
- depression;
- irritability;
- chronic fatigue;
- abdominal pain;
- constipation;
- diarrhoea;
- bloating/wind;
- allergies;
- acne;
- migraine;
- cystitis;
- thrush;
- pre-menstrual tension (PMT);
- menstrual problems;
- sensitivity to perfumes (Multi-Chemical Sensitivity – MCS);
- poor memory;
- inability to concentrate;
- feelings of unreality;
- numbness, tingling and weak muscles;
- blurred vision;
- nasal congestion,
- etc. etc.

* CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem? by Leon Chaitow N.D. D.O.. Published by Healing Arts Press, USA (1998). ISBN: 0-89281-795-X

Candida Albicans and MS - a life story

[A few MSers have asked me about this, and I meant to write it years ago. A bit late then, I hope the following helps.]

Ah, the enemy! The dreaded fungus that is Candida Albicans (commonly known as just ‘Candida’), that is the ruination of so many people – whether they know it or not. And, almost certainly, a contributing factor in – if not the actul cause of - multiple sclerosis (MS).

I probably need a disclaimer here. I am no medical expert and certainly not a microbiologist. I’m just someone talking from experience who’s done lots of research (many naturopaths agree) and who, most importantly I think, isn’t afraid to face the truth – even when it involves a revolting little parasite living within our own bodies that decides to take charge!

I owe much of the ground-work for what I know to Leon Chaitow who with his book, CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem?* probably saved my life. I cannot recommened this text highly enough for anyone who wants to know more, and maybe has their own suspect symptoms of a “yeast allergy”. Information I give from Mr.Chaitow I will bracket L.C.* and the book itself I will give details of at the end of this piece.

‘The end’? But where to begin?...

Well, I guess where the Candida does, when it changes from its yeast form in your gut (everyone has it) into its mycelial (reproducing through a network of threads called hyphae), fungal form, Candida Albicans. (L.C.*). When it bursts through the abdominal wall, enters the blood-stream and breaks through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to cause the brain allergies which create so much havoc. This is how Candida begins, but why? And what can we do to prevent it occurring in others?

Well, to answer the last question first: can we prevent stress or trauma? Infections, pain, disease? Can we increase sunlight (in a temperate climate), eradicate damp?

Probably not, we think, these things are part of life. But you see, for the first two, stress and trauma, we can at least bolster ourselves to be able to deal with them if and when they do come along.

We can raise our children to be strong, secure and confident individuals, who will work to ensure a calm existence for themslves and their families. We can hope for all families to love and support one another, unconditionally.

Without doubt, a foundation of faith – religion - can be the permanent safety-net and friend we all need – the Truth we can depend on in those difficult times. And prayer is the best anti-depressant there is!

We can make sure everyone grows up eating the healthiest food possible. (We will come to the anti-Candida diet later.)

Then the next three: infection, pain, disease? “Aren’t they the ones you go to the doctor with?” you ask. And I answer with an emphatic “NO!”

Because, in my opinion (I’m not alone), this is where so much has gone wrong. In the treatments the doctors have handed out (not always their fault – they learn about anatomy, the body and its possible ailments, presumably want to heal it, but NOT the remedies – they are taught to trust pharmaceutical companies to provide the medicines they need).

And it’s pharmaceutical drugs: anti-biotics and steroids especially, that the yeast (now Candida Albicans) sees as a feast (on top of sugar, etc. which we will come to) and uses to spread out its deadly mycelium (mass of hyphae).

We need not to get ill in the first place - or learn to use herbs (many “conventional” medicines are derived from plants) - to strengthen our immune systems.

And this is where the last two in my “menu” (food for yeast) come in: lack of sunlight and damp. We need full-spectrum light to ignite our pituitary glands and drive the adrenals to produce the correct balance of hormones (L.C. and others). Without it we can develop SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and become depressed, physically and mentally. Our immune systems compromised. We need our environment to be dry – damp produces mould, shooting reproductive spores into the atmosphere, the air we breathe. With insufficient light and damp we become ill. Vulnerable. And the yeast will thrive.

If you can’t – or don’t want to - leave the northern climes, I advise – and have - a light-box and de-humidifier. They at least help.

It just takes a combination of two or more of these factors and, wallop, you’re a gonner. Candida has you!

We’ve all seen fungus rotting food (sadly, Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) saw it on a culture dish and decided it (penicillin) would help us (well maybe, in small and only essential amounts - if no one knew or had alternative herbs handy - it might have done!)). Food, metal, rubber, damp areas, FLESH.

Exactly! We’ve all seen it.

And all you MSers, can you imagine that, that voracious mould, and the effect it would have on your myelin sheath/nerve fibres/brain cells? I rest my case!

That’s how it starts. And proliferates. And takes over.

In my own instance I give you – so that I don’t cry - a cold, emotionless, objective-as-possible list of good times I gave the beast (oh, was that meant to be a ‘y’?!): an atheistic, neglected childhood; bad diet (yeast, dairy, sugar-rich); un-schooled from 15 - 40; pregnant (with, too-long-untreated, thrush) at 15; no permanent home from 15 – 28; homeless on several occasions (yes, park benches!); baby adopted at 16; through a windscreen at 18 (anti-biotics); dermatitis (steroid ointment); sexual assault (x3); violence; two (civil) marriages; suicidal depression (more a reaction to circumstance I imagine, but perhaps Candida/MS/SAD!); fibroids; two caesareans; one hysterectomy; one haemorrhage (vaginal); prescribed sleeping-pill addiction from 27- 34; “cold-turkey” for a year followed by agoraphobia; swellings/blisters/bad,bad digestion – full-blown, blatant (needs-to-be-dealt-with) Candida.

But I didn’t know what it was for another few – nightmare – years of symptoms. Until, after visiting a healthfood shop one day Tom (son, 27) found in one of their magazines an identitical list of maladies to my own. He read it out: “If you answer yes to [most] of these questions”. And we had it. We had a name. We never looked back.

Tom was 11, I was 39. It was 1990. And neither of us has had a prescription since then.

Through our favourite health-food store - G.Baldwin & Co. - which is also a medical herbalists, we soon discovered Leon Chaitow’s book*. And that was when the regime (as I call it) was born and became a way of life – which I hope Tom will pass on through his children (I will describe it over the next few posts).

The anti-Candida diet, supplements and herbs have now fought many battles and won (including TB (can be verified by Guy’s Hospital, London) which came on for me in 1994 but which Tom, thank God, never got). And every day they help me – along with my faith (Tom and I converted to Catholicism in 1993) with my MS.

God knows when the sclerosis began (or even the Candida really – I believe now they “ran” together) but I suspect (and I think the neurologist and GP did too when I was diagnosed in 2001) that I have had MS since at least my 20s. Maybe before if my bowels are anything to go by (and, therefore, also the Candida)!

It doesn't matter. It’s not important.

What is, is making the most of each tiny moment left and doing what we can for others.

We both got degrees in English (Tom at 22, me at 47!). And I, at last, had some confidence – I was quite chuffed that I got mine at the “laid-back” Goldsmiths’ College, University of London – 2:1!

And I did what I always wanted to do: worked as a reporter on a local ‘paper for a couple of years, before fatigue stopped me in 1999. That’s when the MS testing took off.

Tom, who had started at Baldwins with work experience aged 16, is now office manager there. How blessed is that – herbs whenever we need them?!

It’s not consistently easier – living on a council estate is better than homeless but really... I’ve had to do three years on a “Regeneration” (de-generation!) building-site before I came here for wheelchair access (2003). And we’re told they want to “improve” this housing soon. Over my dead body! Or insane mind! We’ve had Pharaoh ants, wasps and spiders - in infestation quantity. I had a second haemorrhage (this time lung) with TB – very frightening – probably caused by condensation pouring down the windows and walls. Terrible eczema (but now have chickweed – praise God! See herb post to come). Went bankrupt in 2000 as nerves examined by electrical prodding (‘Evoked Potentials’) MRI and lumbar puncture, and same year hammers and drills began. And, of course, the MS itself isn’t easy to live with.

But it has improved. And, ironically - or with God’s grace - I am happier now than I ever have been.

So, in answer to some: no I’m not physically “healed”. The MS is progressing – as it is meant to, the Candida still can be a nuisance. But I feel I have control now – they are under control. I know what to do and how to cope when the going gets tough.

And, best of all, I am cheerful. And that is a miracle.

* CANDIDA ALBICANS Could yeast be your problem? by Leon Chaitow N.D., D.O. Published by Healing Arts Press, USA 1998 ISBN: 0-89281-795X

Friday, 21 September 2007

The MS Society Forum

About six months ago my fabulous son, Tom, set me up with the Internet. I guess I’d goaded him for a while over my frustrated blog ambitions. It was time. Let mother put her money where her mouth is.

And so I did – the money part anyway. Thanks to DLA (Disability Living Allowance), being housebound (no new clothes needed) and no social life, I procured the works: wireless et al.

It was hard work putting it together. A couple of times we had to call the one younger brother who still comes to see me (and have dinner), dear “Uncle” Blob. We needed his computer expertise. We thought...

But what Blob (a family nickname we can’t trace!) actually did was allow us to take a break. We couldn’t just give him work to do, we had to play hosts. We’d all moan about the computer but Tom would cook a meal, I would converse, politely (bit of an effort sometimes with fatigue and emotional lability!) and then we’d all play poker. Fun and very construcive! I wish there were more nights like these. But it didn’t move us forward very much.

I love Blob. He never talks about the MS but he’ll listen if I do, and sympathise in a non-pitying way which is perfect. And then he always encourages my writing because, having known me 40 years, he knows that writing is who I am. My raison d’etre. He knows how without it I’d be lost.

In fact there’s the yardstick: while I still at least try to write I am alive. Someone those close to me will recognise. Someone I still know is me. Without it I might be, at least mentally, dead. I may need help.

Anyway, the Internet (try to keep to the point!): in the end it really was Tom, and even me – with some help from the BT guys in New Delhi - who eventually got it (laptop plus broadband/wireless) set up and working. United with Tom’s laptop in his room. But what a headache. And the stress. I felt I lost another 10 years in the weeks it took to achieve this. The herpes had a field-day! (I hear it’s like this for most people – I’m sorry. And if you’ve got MS – or any debilitating disease - even sorrier. I thought technology was better than this – I waited till I was sure it would be!) And I hated it before I began. But then I always had. What with the addictions to surfing (and words like that), the games and the pornogaphy.

In fact, it’s only because I heard priests on EWTN (The Eternal Word Television Network) talk about downloading the Pope’s encyclicals, etc. that I decided to try at all.

And of course it’s perfectly “safe” if used wisely – and a bit craftily to avoid all the marketing disciples of Mammon.

For a couple of months I did no more than get used to things like ‘Bookmarks’ and Google and every move I made would elicit another cry of: “Tommm!” And eventually he would come, when he’d worn me out more with my shouting/panicking/crying. Oh, it wasn’t his fault. It was my silly naivety and fool-hardy optimism. Learn how to use the Internet at 54 (gone up since then!), with PPMS? Mad!

And it never would have been done without Tom.

So, bless him, thank you Tom.

And the blogs were on their way.

Except they weren’t. Because one of the things I’d put on my ‘Bookmarks’ was the MS Society and when looking up that address I discovered their Forum. Another round of stresses in the house: “Someone to chat to?” “Nice large print?” “Important info.?” I had to be registered.

And next thing I know, I’m on it. (You’ll think I’m spoilt! Maybe I am.) First reading, to get used to its house-style, etc. and then chatting/writing. And I was hooked. Addicted. I was a computer addict. I couldn’t believe it.

But I was grateful. And still am. And I love it.

Because it got me writing again – without thinking: immediate. Just as the editor liked at the ‘paper I was on - till I had to stop the roving reporting to give way to fatigue.

Oh, it’s like the good old days. Constant and continual. Always someone there in need of support or just friendship. Helpful – to everybody.

Thank you MS Society.

You and Tom, Blob, all the MSers, this is for you.

And off we go...


There is something very special about being in an MS “bubble”.
Alone, untouched by voice or hand, or even presence of another.
Protected, enveloped, by what? By peace. There is no panic here. No stress.
Only the blessing and golden light of being alone,
yet loved, in communion with the Holy Family.
Through silence and physical solitude to feel the soul surrender its own wordless prayer.
And grace.