With the onset of winter chills - and I'd say they've come rather quickly this year - joint pain becomes more of a problem. I've had a few clients recently with joint pain and for the first time, after 20 years of practicing reflexology, I find that my fingers are sometimes a bit sore. So I decided to do a bit of research about osteoarthritis and here it is:
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joints to feel stiff and painful. It's the most common form of arthritis and is more common in older people. Symptoms of OA can vary: joints, especially finger joints can become swollen and change shape; sometimes the joints make creaking or cracking noises; sometimes there is pain, but not always; sometimes moving the joint can be difficult; the joints can lose surrounding muscle and this can make them feel weaker. Almost all joints can develop osteoarthritis but the most common places are the fingers, thumbs, knees and hips as well as the low back and neck.
What causes osteoarthritis?
No-one knows exactly what causes osteoarthritis. It used to be called wear and teat and was thought to be part of the ageing process, but now it's thought that it may be due to: repeated small injuries that happen as part of daily life and which don’t heal completely; an after effect of sporting injuries; genetics (it can run in families); being overweight which puts extra strain on the weight-bearing joints, especially the knees and hips.
Inside the affected joints there is quite a lot of healing and repair going on: cartilage - which acts as a shock absorber - is lost and new bone is formed which can cause joints to change shape. This formation of new bone can contribute to some of the pain and stiffness.
Can we do anything about osteoarthritis?
I would highly recommend having a look at the Arthritis Research UK website, from which most of this information has been gleaned. I spent a lot of time looking at research papers, particularly for natural remedies for osteoarthritis and I have to say the Arthritis Research UK website provided the most complete and useful information for a non-scientific readership. The website provides information for Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I'm disappointed to note that Reflexology is not one of their listed complementary therapies - it's my belief that the relaxation provided by Reflexology can help dampen down inflammation, relieve pain to some degree and stimulate the body's own healing resources.
From my research the following supplements may help:
Fish oil provides an anti-inflammatory effect which is well documented and provides benefits for osteoarthritis as well as supporting heart health. As part of my Reflexology continuous professional development I sat in on a nutrition webinar by Marilyn Glenville. Her professional view of supplements was to be very careful and do lots of research - fish oil quality can depend on the process of extraction, the type and part of fish used (fish liver is likely to be the most toxic part of the fish) and the quality control of the company. Also look out for the
GLA (y-Linolenic acid)
There is some evidence to suggest that Borage Seed Oil also helps fight inflammation and improve pain and swelling (https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/42/5/652/1784589). This paper compiled the results of a number of studies to determine the benefits (or not) of a range of herbal remedies in treating Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Capsaicin is extracted from chilli peppers and can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints. There seem to be no major side effects although when applied topically it can cause skin blisters and must be kept well away from eyes, mouth and open wounds to avoid irritation.. It's available on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters. Most trials have used either 0.025% or 0.075% of capsaicin gel applied to the skin four times a day.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a chemical compound found naturally in your body and laboratory studies suggest that it has some painkilling activity and stimulates cartilage production. As yet there's insufficient research to be clear how SAMe works. It's available as a nutritional supplement, but mostly from US suppliers. Side-effects, which are usually mild and infrequent, include: nausea; restlessness; headaches; a dry mouth; stomach upsets.
SAMe can also increase the activity of antidepressants and severe side-effects of anxiety and mania have also been reported in people taking anti- depressants. People on anticoagulants, you should take SAMe under a doctor’s supervision because it might increase the risk of bleeding.
It's unclear what's the best dose of SAMe is, but most studies have used daily doses of 400–1,600 mg.
Indian frankincense is an Ayurvedic remedy that can be purchased over the counter in capsule form. It can prevent the production of inflammatory substances in the joints. Current evidence, based on four RCTs, suggests that it might have some beneficial effects in treating participants with osteoarthritis of the knee which might last for a period of time after treatment is stopped. It prevents the production of hormone-like substances in your body that act as triggers for joint inflammation.
Trials have used a daily dose of 1g which seems to be safe, but studies are not extensive and interactions with outer medications haven't been well studies. High doses have been shown to have a serious effect on the liver.
Frankincense can also be used topically by mixing the "pure essential oil" (ideally organic) with a carrier oil (jojoba) or unscented body lotion and rubbing it on the affected part to reduce pain and inflammation. But beware, essential oils can be extremely powerful and a little goes a long way. Frankincense oil can also be used in a bath. Frankincense oil should not be used by people taking anticoagulant medications and may cause minor skin rashes, nausea, stomach pains (and in my case too much gives me a headache).
If you're going to try any of these remedies, I'd strongly suggest you try them one at a time and do your research. Supplements vary in quality and efficacy - and of course price - and if you try more than one at a time and get a benefit (or no benefit) you'll not know which one worked or if they cancelled each other out. Most of these remedies have an anti-inflammatory effect and I don't know if too much anti-inflammatory is a bad thing.
This link provides more information about Capsaicin, SAMe and Frankincence:https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-osteoarthritis.aspx
And of course, I'd definitely recommend that you give Reflexology a try because you never know, although it's not listed in the research, it might just work for you! You can book a treatment here: http://www.lothianreflexology.co.uk/book-a-treatment.html
If you've never tried Reflexology and don't know what it is, here's a brief rundown:
What is Reflexology?
How does Reflexology work?
Reflexology uses finger pressure on the feet to relax and re-balance the whole person in mind, body and emotion. It works on the principle that various parts of the feet relate to corresponding parts of the body and that by working on the feet the Reflexologist can create a balancing effect. The finger pressure on the feet is firm, so it should not feel tickly.
Who can benefit from Reflexology?
Anyone can benefit from Reflexology: from newborn babies to those receiving end of life care, and anyone in between, but it is particularly beneficial for anyone who is experiencing ill-health and in particular those suffering from stress or stress related illnesses. There may however be times when it is not appropriate to provide a treatment, so if you're not sure, do ask.
Reflexologists often specialise in particular areas, such as: fertility, pregnancy, babies, children, ageing well, pain relief, sleep, stress, cancer care, and end of life care.
What happens in a Reflexology treatment?
The Reflexologist will take a few moments to gather information about the client's condition (it tends to take a bit longer for the first treatment), and then the client is made comfortable, lying on a special chair or massage table. It's possible to chat during the treatment, but it's more relaxing to just close your eyes and enjoy the experience. It's not uncommon for clients to drift off into a light doze.
How will I feel after a treatment?
Well, everyone is different, but generally clients will feel deeply relaxed after a treatment. Clients often report having had a good night's sleep and a boost in their energy levels after a treatment. Really the only way to know is to give the treatment a try.
There have been some positive research projects carried out with reflexology; however, as yet, there is not a large enough body of evidence to make clinical claims of effectiveness.
With ever increasing levels of stress in everyday life, it is important for people to take more responsibility for their own healthcare needs. Reflexology may be one of the ways to mitigate the stresses of modern life.
Reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice.
The only way to know if Reflexology will be beneficial for you is to give it a try. If you're ever feeling stressed or a bit out of sorts, think about having a Reflexology treatment to get you onto more of an even keel. To make the decision easier, I offer £5 off your first treatment. This applies to everyone, so you don't need a special voucher or ticket, it is just automatically applied when you pay for your treatment.
For July, I'm offering an extra £5 off to all new clients. That means you get £10 off your first treatment if you book in July. But this offer only applies to July 2014, so don't delay, book your treatment today by calling Doris on 07724 197627, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It can sometimes feel that staying healthy and ageing well can be an uphill struggle. There seem to be so many conflicting ideas about what we should and shouldn't eat, which is the best diet to follow, how much or little exercise we should get and what type of exercise is best. There's plenty of advice on what supplements and special healthy products we should be including in our diet and which health and fitness guru to follow - because different ones seem to pop up all the time, with new ideas and products.
Of course, much of this is designed to relieve us of our hard earned cash, so what is the best way to stay healthy or even improve your health? I've developed a list of easy actions to take which cumulatively with benefit your health and well-being. Most cost nothing and there's a fairly heavy emphasis on reducing stress ...
Belly breathing - Take a long slow breath in through your nose. Push the air down into your tummy, almost down to your waist. Let it out again slowly. This deep breathing oxygenates your blood, feeding the body cells; it reduces muscle tension and blood pressure; it clears out stale air from the lungs and opens the airways. If you are under severe pressure, you can't do anything more effective to calm yourself down than taking a series of long slow breaths.
Exercise - Stress produces chemicals which, if they are not naturally neutralized are stored in the body to create a toxic effect. Exercise is a great way to release these chemicals. The key thing is not to overdo it. Work at 70% of your capacity in order that you don't tire yourself out. Give yourself a day off to rest your body. Do something you enjoy, it doesn't have to be difficult: a brisk walk in the country surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature will both tone the body and calm the mind.
Take more water - Often our fluid intake can affect our energy levels. Water helps rehydrate the body and it feeds the brain (water helps to conduct all those electrical connections). If you are dehydrated your system functions less efficiently. Water helps the kidneys to function more efficiently and that helps with the removal of waste within the body.
Touch therapies - You don't have to do it all yourself: give yourself a break and let someone else take the strain. Try Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, or any other touch therapy that takes your fancy. It's amazing how relaxing and re-balancing it can be.
Eat well- Our bodies are very intelligent and if you listen, your body will tell you what it needs. Basically if you aim to reduce: sugar, salt, fat, additives, caffeine and alcohol; eat a wide variety of foods, eat lots of fruit and veg and some fibre, you'll probably be eating well. You can help digestion and absorption of food if you eat slowly, savouring your food as you eat and eating regular meals will help keep blood sugar levels balanced. A few small moves towards less processed food and you will find that your food gives you energy rather than robbing you of energy.
Relax - Relaxation is nature's antidote to stress. Fifteen minutes every day should be enough to keep you in balance. Relaxation is about being rather than doing and we all need time just to be - ourselves. Relaxation allows the mind and body a bit of quiet time to connect with each other.
Posture - Good posture supports good breathing and reduces muscle tension. For a good seated posture: have your feet flat on the floot (legs and ankles uncrossed), thighs parallel to the floor, kneed away from the edge of the seat. Your back should be well supported, shoulders relaxed and down, head resting comfortably on the neck. Don't sit in any position for too long at one time or the muscles will tense up.
Let go - At the end of each day, take time out to let go all the tensions, feelings and emotions collected during the day. Today is challenge enough without carrying some of yesterday's baggage too! Often it's the negative things which we carry with us - how often do you wake up with a warm glow because of what happened yesterday? Probably not as often as you waken feeling fed-up and low because of what happened yesterday. And letting go is much easier than you'd expect, all you have to do is stop thinking about what it was that was making you feel bad.
U-time - Make time for yourself. It's not selfish, rather it's a matter of self-preservation and it will help those around you: if you are happy in yourself, and with yourself and your life, you will have much more to offer friends, family and colleagues.
Sleep well - This is a matter of quality as much as quantity. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep, what's important is that you wake up feeling refreshed and with enough energy to get you though the day. If you have difficulty sleeping, avoid alcohol, coffee and food last thing at night and make a point of letting go any worries, problems or niggles before you go to bed. If you have sleep problems, it helps to establish a bedtime routine.
If you'd like help with relaxing or sleep problems, why not try some Reflexology or Indian Head Massage. To find out more contact Doris on 07724 197627.
Special Offer available until 31 May 2014 at the end of this blog...
Over the past few months I've had a number of clients who have come to Reflexology for the first time and I've been absolutely delighted by their response to the treatment.
I've been a reflexologist for the past 16 years and although I try not to take it for granted, I do sometimes forget just how amazing Reflexology is. So, it's wonderful to have clients who remind me just how blessed I am to be able to practice such a gentle, yet powerful treatment.
One of the biggest surprises, for clients new to Reflexology, is just how relaxing it is: someone recently said they'd never been so relaxed in their life. Well if that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is! For me, I love the fact that clients can get really, really relaxed without having to do a thing.
And that sense of relaxation can create a powerful healing space. We spend so much of our time and energy - physical and psychic - out in the world trying to get results, or cope with the results of the efforts of others, that we often forget to come back to ourselves. It's a bit like going out in the morning, but forgetting to come home at night.
I often wonder if that's why Yoga and Meditation seem to be increasing in popularity at the moment. Einstein's 3rd Law of Motion says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (I'm sure I've not got that exactly right, but the meaning's there). The more stressful life becomes, the bigger the demand for a space of stresslessness (OK, so it's not a word, but it does look relaxing, don't you think)?
Therapies like Reflexology have never been more popular and I think it's because they give clients an opportunity to relax, to be still and to take stock. Our bodies are amazing healing machines which, with the right fuel, maintenance and recovery strategies, will keep going strong. The relaxed feeling that Reflexology can create offers a healing space in which the body can re-calibrate, re-balance and repair. So, Reflexology is fabulous for keeping you healthy!
But Reflexology can also help you recover better health. Relaxation may help reduce inflammation in the body and that can have a beneficial effect on many conditions, such as IBS or arthritis. It also has a positive impact on the hormone system by reducing the production of stress chemicals and hormones in the body.
And, for me, one of the most significant effects of the relaxing effect of Reflexology is that it helps to develop awareness in the client of the distinction between tense and relaxed - for without awareness, nothing can change. Some of the biggest "Ah Ha" moments in my Reflexology practice have been with clients who seemed to me to be stressed, but didn't feel themselves to be stressed. By the end of the treatment they felt relaxed and were then able to recognise how high their stress levels had actually been.
Relaxation also helps with pain management, so painful conditions can often be helped through Reflexology - and there is research to support this.
So, if you've never tried Reflexology before, why not give it a go, because you'll never really know what you're missing until you try it out for yourself.
And to put my money where my mouth is, I'm going to give a £5 discount to all new clients who book before 31 May 2014 - just call me (Doris), on 07724 197627 and quote Blog when you book your appointment. Looking forward to meeting you.