Herbs and Multiple Myeloma

Herbs have been an important part of my journey from the beginning of my diagnosis. Herbs are the whole plant, (Using the whole herb means that each component of the whole herb works in synergy with all the others and makes the herb more effective than if only single components were extracted from the herb.) These are herbs that I have used from the beginning. They have helped keep my immune system strong.

Essiac Tea is made up of 4 herbs: Burdock root, Slippery elm, Sheep sorrel and Indian rhubarb root. It is used to improve the status of the immune system.

These four herbs help normalize various body systems by cleansing the blood, purging toxic build up, promoting cell repair and aiding in effective general assimilation and elimination.

Astragalus is an adaptogen and immune stimulant. Adaptogens coordinate and regulate a broad spectrum of biochemical processes. They are innocuous, nonspecific in activity and are a normalizer of functions. I have been taking this in tincture form from the beginning.

Sutherlandia taken as a tincture helps stimulate immune cells to attack cancer cells. This is an adaptogen herb which improves the general metabolism. Amongst other valuable health benefits, it promotes relaxation and better-quality sleep. It also helps with the wasting that is a common occurrence in cancer patients

Ginkgo biloba helps to thin the blood. Multiple Myeloma makes the blood sticky, and this causes problems with clotting. Ginkgo also helps my brain function better as it helps improve blood flow.  

Burdock root tincture – for liver support. But while taking the Essiac tea, it is not necessary to add this tincture.

Dandelion tincture – This has been made from the fresh whole herb. It is full of nutrition and may help reduce inflammation. Multiple Myeloma causes inflammation throughout the body, but it is detected in a blood test in the liver. The dandelion therefore gives the liver support. The liver comes under a lot of stress during this time, so eliminating toxins is important.

Moringa contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It is also an antioxidant which helps protect cells from damage. I add the powder to my smoothies, or just put a teaspoon of the powdered herb on my tongue and drink it down with water.

Another important herb was added this year when more bones broke, it strengthens bones, reduces pain and  my anxiety levels which have skyrocketed over the past year. (If you would like to know more about this herb, please message me directly.)

In conclusion, we have found that adding fresh herbs to my food, daily, has also helped strengthen my immune system. These include garlic, ginger, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and chillies.

Nutrition and Multiple Myeloma

Once diagnosed, the first thing we looked at was my nutrition. I did a remote consultation with Nutrition Therapist, Sally-Ann Creed. This was an excellent starting point as she helped me identify where my nutrition was lacking. She also gave a suggested eating plan which is Keto-based. This was to cut out all carbohydrates that convert to sugar. The idea was to try and starve the cancer cells. (Unfortunately, my Myeloma tumour did not respond adequately to the tumour reducing nutrition. However, no other tumours have formed, and I believe that is because of the good nutritional protocol).

I have been following the following protocol with positive results. The protocol is composed of fresh vegetable juices (to try to detox as well as get the body to an alkaline condition), diet (the Keto diet proved to be most effective) and taking herbal supplements.

 My brother bought a book through Amazon called Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Dr Patrick Quillin, PhD, RD, CNS. I found it extremely helpful as well as inspirational. There is an extraordinarily strong and growing movement to fight cancer by natural means.

 

So, let us start with the juices. My mother and brother have been my juice angels. They have bought, juiced, and bottled my juices for the past 3 years, and they continue to do this for me. Juicing should start as soon as possible to eliminate toxins from your body. Wherever possible, they tried to buy organically grown vegetables as there is the least likelihood of toxic chemicals being present. The veg are then soaked in filtered water (we fitted water filters directly to our kitchen taps) with vinegar added (1 tablespoon of vinegar per 2 litres of water) for 20 minutes before juicing. This is to neutralise any surface toxins present on the vegetables. They bought a juicing machine, and the first juices were made with carrots, beetroot, green apple, celery, turmeric, and ginger. This was done during the detoxing stage and I started with a glass a day working up to 3 glasses a day for about 3 weeks. The combination was then changed to a more alkaline mix (kohlrabi or red cabbage, celery, green peppers, and cucumber – approximately equal proportions (3 glasses per day).

 

Now, the diet. Patrick Quillin says “Nutrients can improve cancer treatment by protecting the patient from the damaging effects of chemotherapy and radiation while allowing these therapies to kill the tumour. Also, nutrition makes chemo and radiation therapy more of a selective toxin against the cancer and not a general toxin against the patient”. As mentioned earlier, the Keto diet has been followed, not strictly but as close as possible. I have needed to change my diet slightly as time has gone by. I find that some foods make me feel sick, while others my body craves for. So, I have added certain grains (Quinoa) and beans (chickpeas) and slowed down on my animal protein. I also find now that raw vegetables are far more nurturing than cooked. My suggestion here is, go with what feels right. (Please note I am referring to healthy foods only)

 

At the same time, certain nutritional changes must be made. Firstly, you must cut out sugar. Sugar feeds cancer cells as well as slowing down the immune system. You need to starve the cancer cells. You need to cut out all starches (wheat, potato, cereals, pasta, white rice) It is fine to eat sweet potato as it has a low glycaemic index. You also need to cut out dairy products, although plain full cream yoghurt and unsalted butter are okay. Reduce your fruit intake, even though the sugars in fruit are better for you, they still feed the cancer. You can eat plenty of berries. All meats (grass-fed and hormone-free), leafy veg (dark green leafy veg are better), cruciferous veg (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, Brussel sprouts) pumpkin, and sweet potato are good. I also eat nuts (I have found that raw is better).

 

Healthy eating must be a way of life. Your body will thank you.

Cancer Bush

The amount of people suffering from cancer and telling us this at Shongweni Market has amazed me. People in that situation are looking for something to lesson the ravages of the disease and often ask us for suggestions in this regard.

Fortunately, Sutherlandia frutescens (Cancer Bush), an old Cape Dutch remedy, grows over a lot of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia. Tradition states that it is good for stomach problems and internal cancers. It is also used traditionally for colds, flu, chicken pox, diabetes. varicose veins. Piles inflammation, liver problems backache and rheumatism.

Medical research says that that this herb encourages the body to make use of its own resources to stimulate wellbeing. We know several cancer patients who have used cancer bush to prevent wasting. Evidence shows anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial and anti-stress activity.

Do we offer this herb? Yes, we do,  as we have people testifying to its efficacy

Multiple Myeloma…My Journey Through Holistic Practices

It has been far too long since I last wrote a blog for Essential Herbal Products. 5 months to be exact. When I noticed this, I realized how my health has kept me wrapped up in a world of learning to live within the new boundaries imposed by my body. Let me explain…

I was transported by ambulance to Addington Hospital at 6.00am on the 12 April 2017. I had a compression fracture to my L3 vertebra. I was given a brace and after 12 long days in hospital I was discharged with the understanding that I would go to the Spine Clinic at King Dinizulu Hospital for further tests.

I went to the appointment on 10 May 2017 and the doctor who saw me never examined me properly. In fact I never even got out of the wheel chair nor did he get out of his chair. He asked me if I could feel anything in my legs and when I said yes. He said “You need a MRI go back to Addington.”

We went back to Addington that same day and they said they could give me an appointment for February 2019. When we said that was too long they said they could give me one for June 2018. That was still too long.

After this delay of over a month, I went to my GP. She referred me to get a bone density scan. She also tried to get me onto medication for Osteoporosis, as this was what was now presumed was my medical issue. (Osteopenia). Medical Aid refused this treatment and so I took up a regimen of vitamins and exercise. I was also attending weekly physiotherapy to deal with the pain. Although this helped me with pain control, I did not get any better. As a matter of fact, I only got worse. By year end I could only stand for 4 hours before my legs refused to move properly.

Eventually, in January 2018, I had another x-ray via my private doctor. My L3 vertebra had now totally collapsed and was compromising my spinal cord. I was referred to an Orthopedic surgeon who said that it looked like I had fallen from a ten story building. He referred me for an MRI. This revealed that not only had my L3 totally collapsed, but that there was a tumour (possible malignancy) on my spine. I was also told to get blood tests done which pointed out a monoclonal gammopathy (Possible myeloma). The surgeon emphasized that if the operation had not been done, I would have been permanently in a wheelchair. The operation is called an L3 corpectomy and anterior spinal fusion.

The operation was eventually performed on 7th March and it was confirmed that I do indeed have myeloma. For those wondering what this is, myeloma is form of blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow. Normal plasma cells transform into malignant myeloma cells and produce large quantities of an abnormal immunoglobulin called monoclonal protein or M protein.

So Sue…you believe in natural therapies…what did you do?

 When I received this news, Christine (The one half of Essential Herbal Products) and I got together to work out a healing protocol. Something that would work together with the necessary surgery and any other therapies I may need. This regimen may change after I’ve seen the oncologist which is happening on 8th May 2018. Nothing can be set in stone (As Chris says).

We have learned enough to know that any healing protocol has to be inclusive of all areas of our lives:

  1. The first and most obvious one that we looked at was my food. What was I eating and drinking? What needed to be added and what needed to be removed? After much reading, discussion with our herbalist and knowledge we had received from an Integrative Therapist, we chose what would be most relevant for me and for dealing specifically with a cancer of the blood. Adding vegetable juices was an important part of the food protocol. I am so grateful to my mother who makes up 7 large bottles of juice (It includes carrot, beetroot, turmeric, garlic, ginger and a variety of other vegetables.) These are then frozen and I drink 1 a day. (If you are interested in this we are happy to share with you.
  2. The second area we looked at was vitamins and minerals. I must admit that I have been terrible at taking supplements. I always felt confused by the conflicting information and so basically stayed away. When my back first broke, the doctor put me on Calcium, magnesium, Omega 3 and zinc. So that was already in place. When I received the myeloma diagnosis, we learned that I must stay off calcium as the disease was already breaking down my bone and putting too much calcium in body. Now I am on a protocol of high vitamin C, a variety of minerals, multivitamins and extra vitamin B. (If you are interested in more of this, we are happy to share).
  3. Herbs, of course, are an important part of my everyday protocol. Our herbalist gave us a lot of information regarding Essiac Tea. She then made some up for us and I have this twice a day. Essiac is an excellent detox, moving the toxins out of my blood while supporting the liver and kidneys. If you are not familiar with this herbal blend, here is a link with a lot of important information. (http://essiacfacts.com/). The other herb that I take daily is Astragalus It is one of the most powerful immune-building plants on the planet. It is an adaptogen herb which helps beat stress while fighting disease at the same time. In addition to pumping up my immune system, studies show it’s vital for cardiovascular health and can even fight off tumors and alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy. We also decided that I needed to do a parasite cleanse.
  4. Essential oils also play an important role. I use lavender to help me have a restful sleep. Since my diagnosis, sleep has been elusive. Waking up at all hours of the night wondering how things are going to pan out, worrying about worrying. Lavender is the aroma therapeutic distress that I need. The other oil is Frankincense which I have added to Grapeseed oil and this is massaged into my hands and behind my ears. (I haven’t been able to reach the soles of my feet to massage there, hence my hands and pulse points.

What about a holistic approach…surely you don’t leave it up to nutrition only?

No healing protocol is complete without spiritual, emotional, mental and physical practices.

These may change as time goes on, but for now these things are helping to keep me grounded and in the now.

Spiritual protocol: This includes spiritual reading (A spiritual author). At the moment it is Richard Rohr, but it could be Rumi, Kahlil Gibran or Joanna Macy (To name a few).

Writing down my dreams and doing dream work. This helps me to get in touch with that part of me that is intuitive. For example, the one dream showed me how angry I am with myself. This anger is destructive and needs to be heard. What is making me angry?

Speaking with a Spiritual Director who calls me out on my nonsense (What I like to call my Drama Queen).

Guided meditations, centring prayer and inspirational podcasts are all part of this protocol too.

Emotional protocol: This includes journaling on my daily feelings, thoughts, emotions, and so on.

I also do a daily zendala or mandala. This helps me get out of my head and into my heart. I have found this a very gentle emotional healing tool.

Mental protocol: I have taken this time to study up on myeloma as well as various people’s experience of healing the natural way. I realise that my fear of the unknown loses its power when I study up as much as I can of the issue that is causing the fear in the first place.

I am also getting back into work-doing the social media for the business as well as doing the online orders and answering questions on social media. This all brings a sense of normality back to my world and keeps me from worrying obsessively.

Physical protocol: Exercise is extremely important. I am so grateful for the daily walking |I did before the op. Even though it was painful, my muscles remained strong and helped me post-op.

A friend has been coming on a weekly basis to give me reflexology. This has been helping and healing me on all levels.

These are becoming a daily routine. They help me to remain calm, grounded and ready to love my body back to health.

Prayer flags from dear friends.

Family, friends, prayer and support: This is one of the most important parts of my healing protocol. The way that my friends and family have surrounded me with love has been overwhelmingly special. Visiting, praying, bringing food, messaging, buying me groceries, supplying my weekly juices, supplying me with the vitamins and minerals needed, coming to read with me, being prepared to face the scary C word with me head on, talking until it lost it power. I have seen my tribe and it is beautiful and big. I am forever grateful and know that there is no way to repay them, except by paying this forward when I am well enough to do that.

All being well, I look forward to being back at Shongweni Farmers Market on Saturday 5th May 2018.

Lots of love, light and laughter

Sue

Herbs and Lifestyle Solutions

“The ever-increasing pace that characterises our modern way of life is one of the worst poisons for our heart.” -Alfred Vogel

“As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul: -Anonymous

Wherever Chris and I are, there are people wondering how they can deal with their stress levels. Our way of life insists that we have to be busy, so busy that even our rest time must be taken up with some activity. Taking time in each day to relax is unheard of, and so people rush from the time they wake up until the time they fall into bed. Or, even more problematic these days, we think that sitting in front of the TV, or playing games on our phones is rest and relaxation. The truth is that these activities overstimulate our brain which stresses our adrenals as they experience all this activity as adrenaline inducing.

So what do we do about this? How is it possible to slow our pace when life insists that if we don’t keep ahead of the pack, we are going to lose?

My reply to you is… What will you lose if you continue to live in this fast-paced way? Heart failure; Depression; Auto-immune diseases; Cancer… The list is long.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take a break every day. Make sure that you take your full hour’s lunch and not in front of your desk. Instead, go and sit in the sunshine; Take a walk; Meditate, or just take time to eat your lunch mindfully.
  2. When your day off comes around, do something fun…Go on a fun run; Go to the beach; Read a book; Visit with friends.
  3. Watch less TV; Spend less time on social media platforms or electronic games. Unplug and Unwind.

Herbs that support our body when we are stressed and anxious:

  1. Adaptogens help our bodies, over time, to cope with stress. One such herb is Ashwaghanda. It is also called Indian Ginseng. It is known to reduce anxiety and bolster the immune system. It seems to enhance the body`s ability to cope with stress. The herb is also known as an Adrenal Gland Tonic as it gradually restores the health of these glands.
  2. Liver herbs are important to include as people are more likely to smoke, drink and overeat on the wrong foods when under stress. Including a herb such as Milk Thistle is important as it is known to help protect the liver and regenerate liver cells.
  3. Sedatives and Calmatives calm frayed nerves, settle anxiety and induce sleep. Valerian is one of the stronger herbal sedatives that can soothe away anxiety, relax tight muscles and relieve pain when given in low doses. St. John’s Wort helps to ease mild depression brought on by over-stress and anxiety. Passion Flower has been known to decrease anxiety and induce sleep. It is known as a toning and strengthening herb for the nervous system particularly when an overactive mind interferes with sleep. Chamomile, Lavender and Lemon Balm are also known to help calm the nerves and gently aid sleep. They are milder than their sisters which are mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.

As Alfred Vogel states: “If you have been infected by a hurried pace of life that it becomes a habit…the end result will not be what you expect.” Things will not get done well, and people will become more isolated and addicted to opioids and pain killers.

“A steady, persistent and joyful pace of work, and shorter rest periods, are better for our life and our physical and mental health” -Alfred Vogel

With lots of love and times of rest…

Sue and Chris