Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stress-relief from Meditation

We all have stress in our lives, some more so than others. I realised many years ago the toll that stress was taking on my health and decided to do what I could to reduce stress. I changed my whole lifestyle in a way that few people can. Most others think that I now have an ideal stress-free life, my own boss, working from home and with very flexible hours that allow me to surf or sail when it suits me. A surfing acquaintance once told me that, unlike me, he had to earn a living so had to leave the beach. I told him that I also had to work and would be doing so until midnight to reclaim the hours spent surfing that day.

Being your own boss with your own micro business brings its own stresses that someone with a secure salary from a corporate or government job cannot comprehend. I have not known from one week to the next what my income would be for that month for nearly 30 years. Not knowing if you can pay the mortgage or some other big expense can be extremely stressful. Balancing a sorely-needed new computer against a repair needed on the car or the house when there is no way to predict with any accuracy how much money will be available is sure to raise the stress levels.

So, as I said, we all have stress to contend with. Recent research into the effects of stress has shown that stress causes inflammation. And anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows my opinions about inflammation. It is the root cause of psoriasis, arthritis and other auto-immune conditions and I do what I can to minimise inflammation in my system. You can read about the meditation research in a Daily Health News article written by Tamara Eberlein. It highlights the stress-relieving benefits of mindfulness meditation and the resulting reductions in inflammatory response in the body. The article includes links to more information about this type of meditation, which is very simple and easy to do almost anywhere and anytime.

So, I have added mindfulness meditation as another implement in my toolbox to help me to eradicate inflammation from my body.

Friday, April 12, 2013

More Thoughts on Inflammation

I have written a few times about the benefits of a diet that is high in anti-oxidant foods and supplements. Anti-oxidants get rid of the dangerous free-radicals in our bodies and to which our immune systems react and create inflammation. Removing or reducing the free-radicals tones down the response of the auto-immune system so also reduces the inflammation.

Psoriasis lesions (spots, patches etc) are inflammation of the skin. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints. Research has shown that those of us who have these conditions don't only have inflammation in those areas, that inflammation can show up almost anywhere within the body, hidden away where we don't see it. This hidden inflammation can only be seen on X-Rays and other imaging devices that can see inside the body, unless they show up as lumps. I have such a lump on my left Achilles tendon, which can give me very bad pain if I wear shoes that press on it or if I knock it on anything.

There is a proven connection between psoriasis and various other conditions aside from arthritis, like diseases of the heart or liver. Some of them are not only conditions that make life uncomfortable, some of them are potentially lethal, so we should do all that we can to reduce the problem and its effects on our lives.

I don't mean that we must jump headlong into the latest unpronounceable product brought out by the drug companies; the drugs that they offer almost always have side-effects, some of which can be worse than the conditions that they are supposed to be treating. I mean that we must do our best to stop dumping unhealthy food into our digestive systems. Most junk food is inflammatory, so stop eating it. Sodas are highly inflammatory, find something more healthy to drink, like filtered water and herbal teas, without loads of sugar or other bad ingredients. It is OK to have these things occasionally but many people live on nothing but junk food.

I know that I have a heart condition. I have had an irregular heartbeat from about the same time that my psoriasis and arthritis appeared about 30 years ago. If I allow my blood pressure to get too low then I feel the irregular rhythms in my chest and know that I must eat or drink something to get my pressure up and the rhythms regular again or I may soon be on the floor. I need to look after my heart but am not prepared to live like an invalid or on drugs.

I can see the obvious signs of inflammation on my skin and my tendon but I can't see it anywhere else that it may be in my body. Other than having X-Rays, I have to find another way to judge how I am doing with my fight against inflammation that could be damaging my internal organs. I use the condition of my skin for that purpose.

Topical creams and lotions have obvious benefits in treating the skin lesions from the outside and getting rid of itches, redness and scaling. They can even reduce the inflammation in the layers of the skin, to make the lesions disappear completely. What they cannot do, though, is to remove any inflammation elsewhere in the body. That has to be treated from within. My tactic has developed over the years to one of treating as much as possible from the inside through diet, with some support from topical treatments on the outside.

If we treat only what we see on the surface then the other locations of inflammation, like the heart, liver and joints, are going untreated and will eventually present insurmountable problems.