Thursday, 23 October 2008

Taking your next breath

For some, the next breath is not something that can be taken for granted (though, come to think of it nor should it be for anyone – we’ll all breathe our last one day). From one day to the next, the physical challenge of keeping the lungs filled with oxygen takes over from everything else: after this breath, the one I’m breathing now, will there be another?

For some, it may mean hospitalisation, or even moving into a hospice.

Yet there are things we can do before we reach that stage - herbal remedies, refinements in diet, extra mechanical aids in the home – to help now. I know, because I’m having to use them…

I have primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), but apart from the usual symptoms of this disease (spastic, painful, legs; chronic fatigue; weak limbs; bladder and bowel incontinence; poor eyes; cognitive dysfunction), the biggest problem lately – the most worrying – has been with the lungs.

I seem to have asthmatic symptoms (with panic but that’s another story!); I do have post-nasal drip, and - as a smoker for half of my life - could expect to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) . Many years ago I was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) but – and this can be verified by Guy’s Hospital, London – cleared it without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. The methods I use now are those I used then and would use for any of the following:

- asthma;
- bronchitis;
- emphysema;
- pneumonia;
- pleurisy;
- TB;
- COPD (made up of the first three above);
- lung cancer;
- sinusitis.

So, what are my methods? What is my Respiratory Rescue (RR)? Well, as I consider most things (health-wise) to be related to or caused by Candida Albicans, it too, depends on my anti-Candida regime of diet and herbs. It just means adding more herbs, specifically suited to the respiratory system:

NB Dosages for all herbs (unless stated otherwise): one quarter of a teaspoon two or three times daily.

thyme – I could have called this piece ‘Thyme heals!’ for the importance of this wonderful herb – it works as an antiseptic (very strong), anti-spasmodic (esp. asthma spasms) expectorant [clears mucus] de-congestant – I now take one teaspoon in a tea, daily and would never (God willing!) be without it;

eucalyptus – mainly used as expectorant/decongestant inhalant if breathing difficult, but especially valuable as chest and throat rub in times of infection/cough;

elecampane – for me, I think, the original life-saver with TB: a powerful antiseptic/expectorant (does contain inulin [fructose] though, so would only use now in emergency);

golden seal – an absolute life-saver: broad-spectrum anti-biotic (without side affects of phamaceuticals); can be used externally in the form of a paste (water added to powder), as a tea with the root, or by adding powder to water and drinking; I also use, with myrrh, for brushing teeth and gargling (good for post-nasal drip); a few grains internally, daily, for TB and other infections;

echinacea – my #1 herb and leader in my anti Candida regime - worth noting again here for its invaluable assistance in any respiratory problems: great immune system strengthener and supporter; strong antiseptic; decongestant and expectorant;

eyebright – another star in my herbal cast of characters (probably couldn’t see without it and would undoubtedly have much worse optic neuritis [eye pain with MS]); mentioned here for its ability, with echinacea, to clear sinuses – the perfect remedy for hayfever, rhinitis and nasal catarrh;

golden rod – one more I now take daily: antiseptic and anti-catarrhal;

tea tree oil – tea tree is an all-rounder – used for everything, and I use it all round the house as air-freshener/fumigator, decongestant and antiseptic for everyone! Also: three times a day as antiseptic mouthwash (with gargle!), and to kill any germs anywhere on anything or anyone – it will even wipe out fleas, mites (arachnids) and ticks on a dog! Essential shampoo for whole family. Works like eucalyptus but more gently, so I use more often, as chest-rub.

turmeric root (as powder) – a recent discovery, for me: very effective (and safe) bronchodilator.

Other herbs I have used, successfully, to clear lungs of congestion (but don’t take regularly – I think we all have to find the ones most suitable to our own bodies) include: mullein [slightly narcotic – no good for me!]; white horehound; pleurisy root (holding onto that in case of pneumonia!); plantain; watercress, and coltsfoot.

And that’s about it. Those, plus the anti-Candida diet (be especially careful with dairy products [go without!] and perhaps wheat and other grains (all mucus-forming foods).

Oh, and I do have a dehumidifier and air-purifier – great aid on breathless nights – and also keep a couple of oxygen bottles (the small mobile ones) handy. Touch wood, I haven’t had to use them lately (hah, tempting fate again, Virginia?!).

Anyway, I hope some of this helps some of you and that taking your next breath will be trouble-free. God bless.


The information I give here has been gathered from my own research and experiences of the last 20 years.

The recommendations I make are for remedies which, through trial and error, my family and I have found to be most helpful.

I have not used pharmaceutical products since 1990 and do not see anyone from the medical establishment (doctors, etc.), other than MS Nurse annually.


All herbs available from medical herbalists including (international mail order available): G. Baldwin & Co.

Monday, 6 October 2008


Illustration by Tom Phillips

Time to catch up with my MS (oh yeah, like that could ever happen!): the development of symptoms and ways they’re affecting my life. It’s been a while since I came to this blog just to “chat” – maybe some sort of denial? –and, let’s face it, this thing’s not going to stop in its tracks, do an about-turn, disappear – it’s here to stay and will, no doubt win the race. I should write about it and, hopefully, say something to help others - at least share an empathy with fellow-MSers.

If MS was a racing-car, it would surely be a Ferrari: to my mind (and most others!), the most beautiful of cars and one of the finest pieces of engineering known to man. The fact that I’m anti-cars, because of their use of oil, and pollutant affect on the environment, is by-the-by here (!). I’m not na├»ve and can appreciate the skill involved in crafting such an exceptional machine (I hate noise – but that wonderful growl of the Ferrari engine…!). It wins… It wins in aesthetics, mechanics, and performance on the race-track, where it leaves rivals floundering.

Yes, if MS were a racing-car it would be a Ferrari.

And, what would we be, us poor little MSers with our spastic legs, chronic fatigue and wasted muscles? Where would we be, with our out-dated theories on cause having something to do with the immune system attacking the rest of our bodies (rubbish!), and the pharmaceutical drugs that do nothing but harm (side-effects) even if they are, duplicitously, offered as help?

Oh, we’d be that tiny dot, still on the starting-line as the Ferrari sped towards the Finish. We’d be the poor suckers left behind - alone, in our cranky, old wheelchair!

And that’s it with the car analogy. I hate car analogies (and too many use them!), except to say…

It is, of course, our disease racing towards the chequered flag, which, in itself, marks the end of our existence. We must enter the race - at least try to keep up - if we are not to lose control completely. And that’s why I’m back here, at this blog. I can see (and feel, and sense) that the MS has me now. I know its progression (primary progrssive multiple sclerosis – PPMS) has been cruel.

But the herbs – praise God! – do help. At least to keep symptoms under control (for instance, in keeping depression at bay; lessening fatigue and pain), and often as cures (e.g.: respiratory problems [see next post]; spasm; anxiety; exhaustion; insomnia).

So this blog must go on, as long as I’m in the race! And, if I think about MS as a Ferrari (which I won’t – it’s an insult to the car!), maybe I can afford it a grudging respect.

As it is, about the only thing they have in common, as far as I can see, is that they’re both man-made!

Yes, I do believe that MS is the result somehow (pharmaceuticals; refined foods; chemicals and additives in food; chemical pollutants [i.e. petrol; perfumes]?) of modern-day society. The post-industrialisation age.

But that’s another story for another time (though I did touch on it in the post ‘Environmental Illness’ in the Comment Column blog).

See you soon.

Note: ‘respiratory’ post to follow…