Around the end of 2007 I began to notice that my right shoulder was beginning to ache. It reminded me of how my left shoulder felt eight or nine years earlier when it "froze" after a bike accident. Just being bumped into was enough to make me cry out in pain! The remedy on that occasion was to have several sessions with a physiotherapist, and the cure was complete. It felt very good to have my arm back, and with so little effort! I therefore decided to wait until the weather was better and then ask our family doctor for another referral to Steve's office. In the meantime I rubbed my achy shoulder frequently throughout the day as I sat at my computer working endlessly on this website and home school products.
My May visit to the doctor was illuminating. She listened to my complaint, took my blood pressure, sent me for blood tests and X-rays, gave me the physiotherapy referral, and booked me for a follow-up visit. In the meantime, she said, "I want you to go to one of those places where you can check your blood pressure free and keep a record of the readings. Do this for a couple weeks and bring the results back to me."
I was able to get the x-rays out of the way immediately. They were painful because I was made to hold my arm up for a minute or so per x-ray, without any assistance. However, I anticipated another easy-to-fix "frozen shoulder" diagnosis, so I wasn't worried. Afterwards I visited the health food store and purchased something that sounded awesome for inflammation and health in general--astaxanthin--and started taking it immediately. Four days after the doctor's appointment, after fasting 12 hours, I submitted myself to those horrible needles and wondered what they were looking for. What did blood have to do with my achy shoulder? And the next day I began physiotherapy.
Dutifully, I stuck my arm into the blood pressure cuff at the local Independent store at least once a day for the next couple weeks and recorded the readings, and added a brief comment about what I had been doing immediately prior to the test. For example, I noted whether I had walked or driven to the store, whether I was alone or had company, and whether or not I was also shopping. I tried to make sure it was something different each time, to make the whole project a fair test of my true blood pressure. Almost every time, the readings were borderline but higher than I assumed the doctor would like. What would she insist I take for that?
I had no intention of taking anything for that, but instead renewed my decision to exercise more and watch my diet better. I got away from my computer desk more frequently, took a walk every day the weather was nice, prepared more salads and drank more water. My body felt better, but my shoulder still ached and I continued to rub it while typing and proofreading material at my computer.
By the time I saw my family doctor again near the end of June my shoulder had started to loosen up a bit and didn't hurt as much, but was still painful. The physiotherapist had diagnosed tendonitis (not frozen shoulder) and given me strength and stretch exercises to do between our thrice weekly therapy sessions. She and her assistant told me that my poor posture was a huge contributing factor, and instructed me to walk and sit straighter, pulling my shoulders back.
I was also given information (and I searched for more) about effective methods of working at the computer. I had Mike shorten the side table where I kept the mouse and mouse pad, and adjusted the monitor height. I should also have reduced the amount of time I spent at the computer, but wasn't prepared to do that yet--I still had too much to do! Before my range of motion had been fully restored, our insurance ran out and my file was closed (middle of August). But 90% wasn't bad--and I could continue the exercises at home. Only the arthritis stood in my way of finishing the job.
So I was surprised when the doctor told me I had the beginnings of arthritis in my shoulder! Because that diagnosis was totally unexpected, I was unprepared to make any treatment decisions. Fortunately, her suggestions were simple: "take Tylenol for pain and when it gets too uncomfortable have cortisone shots." Well, I had no intention of doing that either! Although I do use Tylenol for certain headaches (toughing out others), I had no intention of making it a daily habit. As for cortisone, well, I had heard too many negative things about that...
There was good news, though. The doctor told me, and I quote: "You have perfect blood for a woman of your age." They had been looking for high cholesterol, which wouldn't have surprised me since I have a weakness for fatty, salty snacks like Kentucky Fried Chicken, cheezies, and potato chips. (Though I am happy to say I am finding the chips much less appealing these days). And my blood pressure was a perfect 120/70! That had to be due to the dropping pain levels resulting from my physiotherapy and to the astaxanthin, but there was also definitely something to all that additional attention to my diet and exercise!
Now I needed to deal with the arthritis! I have always believed that natural is better so as I searched the internet for arthritis remedies, I focussed on simple adjustments I could make in my diet and/or behaviour. I discovered there were many kinds of arthritis and a huge variety of things one could do. For example, an article from Natural News pointed out numerous Natural Remedies for Treating Arthritis. The article begins "Arthritis is a disease that causes pain and loss of movement of the joints. The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation (arth=joint, ritis=inflammation), and refers to more than 100 different diseases." Now I knew that one key to managing my pain was to look for ways to reduce inflammation. Since I've had two allergic reactions to drugs in recent years, one very scary, I have no interest in taking a drug like Relafen again to "reduce inflammation."
According to an article I found at Third Age, Zyflamend is a natural way to alleviate the pain of arthritis. This anti-inflammatory is made up of several herbs like rosemary, turmeric, and ginger, that are known to reduce inflammation. I was able to find Zyflamend at a local natural health store at the end of July, but purchased it for my daughter. I only got to have a few to finish up the bottle (in September) so I can't report accurately about its effect on my arthritis.
The other side of the coin is to look for ways to rebuild cartilage that is being worn away, resulting in the pain associated with arthritis. The general prescription for this is glucosamine chondroitin sulfate, which sounds anything but "natural" to me. I did talk with a lady at the health food store about it, though, and she asked if I was allergic to shellfish. It turns out that glucosamine is often made from the shells of shrimp, crab and lobster, although there are synthetic forms available in some countries. Since I avoid consuming synthetic things and do not consume shellfish (see Clean Food List) glucosamine is not an option for me.
I had been hearing good things about MSM (methyl sulphonyl methane), "a natural source of sulfur, (that) can help relieve arthritis pain and maintain joint health. Sulfur is an essential component of [sic] make up connective tissue. Take 500 milligrams three or four times daily, with meals. Sulfur is naturally found in meat, milk, poultry and fish." So I decided to buy some encapsulated MSM at the health food store. It did seem to help reduce the pain, and I hoped was rebuilding cartilage, but after a short time I realized my head was foggy when I took it. (That is a side effect experienced by some people.) Since I don't like feeling foggy, I needed something else.
There are folk remedies for everything on the internet, and many of these can be found by searching forums and blogs. My interest was piqued by a reference to "Purple Pectin." Soon, I discovered this mentioned in several places with the comment that this was "grandma's favourite remedy for arthritis pain." The People's Pharmacy has posted an interesting collection of comments that you will enjoy. Well, I love purple grape juice and pectin is a food (well, it's in some foods), so this seemed like a good natural remedy that I could add to my diet easily.
I felt results within 2 or 3 days of starting to drink Purple Pectin daily! To test this remedy thoroughly, I did a few days on and then a few days off, and I alternated with MSM as well. The pain was definitely reduced when I was taking Purple Pectin! This was very clear when I had a physiotherapy session in which the therapist measured my range of motion after I had been off the juice a few days. I was unable to move my arm as far on this occasion as I had a couple weeks earlier (it hurt too much) and she commented about that. I said, "That's because I haven't been taking my Purple Pectin!" I wish I had known she was going to do this test; I would much rather have had a better report!
The recipe for Purple Pectin is very simple. If you want to get it out of the way first thing in the morning, do what I do: mix 1 tablespoon of Certo pectin into an eight ounce glass of purple grape juice. If you'd rather spread it out over the day, mix 1 teaspoon of Certo into 3 or 4 ounces of juice three times per day. You can reduce the amount of Certo you use as the pain gradually subsides.
I buy Newman's Own Concord grape juice in big bottles and keep them refrigerated after opening. This chills the Certo when I stir it in and makes it take longer to dissolve, but that's solved easily by letting the glass of juice sit for awhile either before or after adding the Certo. I do the latter so I won't forget! It also helps with my daily water consumption because as soon as I finish the condoction, I fill the glass again with plain water to dissolve any remaining pectin.
Pectin is thick and sticky, so, because I am a penny-pincher, I don't use an actual cooking tablespoon to measure the pectin. I use a soup or serving spoon to measure and stir the pectin into the juice--and then I lick the spoon when I'm done drinking the glass of water and/or use it to eat a dish of fruit or cereal. I get about 5 servings from one foil pouch of Certo liquid pectin. By the way, I found a jar about the size of the pouch and keep the opened pouch in it (with the lid on) so it won't tip and spill or attract bugs.
I haven't made up my mind if it matters which brand of pectin I use, but I did compare the ingredient lists of Certo and its major competitor and found one difference. That one ingredient may be the important factor, and since the price difference is slight and I haven't had a problem finding Certo, I am sticking with it. Purple Pectin works for me and I am thrilled!
Home and School Solutions
January 25, 2009
If you tried Purple Pectin, how did it work for you? Would you like to submit an original, healthy recipe of your own for use on the website? Send me an e-mail or use a contact form to have your say.
One of the places I learned about Purple Pectin from is People's Pharmacy. By recommending this website I do not necessarily endorse all of the material found there or any resources referenced therein.