Tag Archive | seasons

Spring Allergies – UGH

I really dislike it! I want to get busy outside and get things cleaned inside, but I am stuck holding a tissue box in one hand and holding a tissue to my nose with the other! Not to mention clogged and itchy ears, voraciously itchy throat and intensely bothersome itchy, watery eyes! However there is a relief, and it is not found packaged in a big pharma bottle! Or prescribed by a doctor. Before we get to the allergy helps, lets learn what is going on to cause allergies in the first place.

We hear a lot about histamines and rightly so! These chemical substances are the key star player in what we know as allergies and allergic reactions. So just what exactly are histamines anyway? And how do they cause all this trouble?

First note that the immune system is involved in recognizing “invaders”, seeking them out to destroy them, keeping our internal environment healthy and functioning at its best. Histamines are a tiny fraction of the immune response inside the body. They are involved in 23 known different physiological functions! We have all had to deal with the affects of histamines at one time or another. The stuffy nose that accompanies the common cold, or the swelling of a banged knee, also the red soreness form a cut on the hand. These all begin with histamines. They are pretty powerful chemicals!

Histamine actions:
Histamines seek out certain receptor cites on cells in different areas of the body! They are produced in response to a “foreign” substance, such as pathogens (germs, bacteria). Sometimes pollen or insect venom is mistaken by the immune system as an invading pathogen.The histamine receptor types have been categorized: H1, H2, H3, and H4.
H1 Receptor:
Are specific to smooth muscles on vascular endothelial cells, in the heart, and in CNS (Central Nervous System). Anti-histamines act on these receptor cites. ( anti-allergy drugs)

H2 receptor:
Found in smooth muscle of stomach – the gastric parietal cells involved in acidity of the stomach.

h3 Receptor:
Found in the central nervous system and somewhat in the PNS (Peripheral Nervous System). They regulate the amount of histamine and other chemical neurotransmitters. They are thought to play a role in satiety.

H4 Receptor:
Located in bone Marrow and white blood cells – regulates neutrophils (most abundant of the white blood cells – a “first responder” of inflammatory cells that move to an area of injury. You best know it as the yellowish/whitish color of pus.) released from the bone marrow.

Functions of histamines:
1. Is a chemical neurotransmitter ( a neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that helps signals pass between 2 neurons in the nervous system. This happens countless times in succession between countless neurons. But the end result of all this transmitting activity is the specific reactions specific to a certain type of neurotransmitter that is passed.)
2. Seek out certain receptor cites in different areas of the body
3. Cause inflammation by making smooth muscles ( as found inside sinuses) to constrict and relax letting the blood vessels enlarge. This is vasodilation.
4. Induces the secretion of fluid at the site of infection on injury-swelling! Hello runny nose!
5. Aids in the stimulation of certain macrophages and the helper T-cell responses. (helping the immune system with production of antibodies, ironic, huh?)
6. Helps induce the production of stomach acid.
7. Has a role in sleep/wake-up cycle, helping our bodies to be awake and alert. This is why the amount of histamine is closely regulated inside the body and the amounts meticulously kept
in balance.

Histamines cause small blood vessels to enlarge and the smooth muscles to constrict- such as in our airways and digestive tract. Can also cause hives known as a allergic response.
How an allergic response happens:
1. An allergen (dust, pollen, venom of bees, etc.) is introduced to the internal environment and is attracted to the lymphocyte, or B-cell.
2. Antibodies called immunoglobulin E (or IgE) are made and are attached to mast cells- mast cells have histamines.
3. When the foreign protein allergen is again introduced internally to the waiting mast cells with their  antibodies (IeG), the antibodies attract the protein part of the “invader” and a reaction happens
that destroys the mast cells.
4. Histamine is one element released from the destroyed mast cells. In a situation where a harmful bacteria or virus is the offender, great, all is going according to design and, health is regained. But when the whole reaction happens because “pollen” is mistaken as harmful, bad symptoms we all hate are cascaded on an person who is allergic, such as myself!  These can include:
-itching: body, eyes, ears, nose
-running sinuses
-hives
-sneezing
-fever
-nausea/vomiting
-diarrhea
-swelling
-asthma
-inflammation
-anaphylactic shock: cell fluids being deposited into the tissue of the throat so fast, swelling to the degree of suffocation!

 Four types of allergens:
1. Injectants- injected through the skin by stings
2. Contactants- irritants to the skin by detergents, plants (poison ivy), cosmetics and so on
3. Inhalants- enter when we breathe, things such as pollen, dust, pet dander
4. Ingestants- food allergies, main ones being peanuts, milk, eggs.
All thanks to an overzealous immune response and histamines!

Don’t you feel like an expert on histamines now? So you are now asking, what can I do to relieve this whole mishap in the Spring, Summer, and Fall? One word, LOVE! No, just kidding, love cures a lot of things and may help, but lets get real here…

Local Bee Pollen:
Begin taking in January or February, before any plants are Springing back and growing again. It must be local so it contains the pollen that you will be subjected to when the plants get in gear and the wind blows in you the face. Ask around and locate a local bee keeper. Orchards sometimes carry local bee products.

Stinging Nettle for Allergies?
Internally has been used for hundreds of years for painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. The tea is a perfect, easy way to take stinging nettle. It’s an herb noted for its anti-histamine effect. An infusion is easy to make. Dr. James Duke recommends nettles for allergies, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, baldness, bladder infection, bronchitis, bursitis, cough, gingivitis, gout, hives, kidney stones, laryngitis, MS, PMS, enlarged prostate (roots), and tendonitis. The miracle of nettles is provided by readily assimilable  calcium, silica, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iodine, silicon, sulfur, chlorophyll,l tannin, Vitamin C, beta carotene,  B complex vitamins, and amino acids (protein).  Quite a complete list for nutrition I would say!!

Dr. Christopher has a capsule called ImmuCalm.  It contains marshmallow root and astragalus. These two herbs calm the immune system while supporting and strengthening it at the same time, I know it sounds weird, but that’s the way of herbs.  I have used them with great success.  You can order them at http://www.mynaturalmarket.com.

Love life and breathe deep,
Angela

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I did not die, I just took an Extremely long vacation from the computer:)

I know it has been quite a while since I have shared with you all! Life has definitely been happening around this household. My husband quit his sorta secure job to be his own boss, and the most exiting part is that all of our children are employed by the business!! He started a roofing/construction company named, you guessed it – Specker Construction. I have been busy too. In the spring my Dad had bypass surgery, so I was at their home quite a bit helping Mom with whatever needed to be done. Growing a garden and putting up the produce takes massive time slots from ones life. Please don’t show me another tomato or green bean for a while:) Giving classes several times this summer, and I still have one to give this Saturday, has also taken a lot of time. Then more recently, my Dad went back into the hospital, ICU to be exact, for …. well we don’t know what happened to him. Doctors are intelligent people, but what they don’t know is whole lot more than what they do know. So after 7 days, 3 rounds of different antibiotics, being poked dozens of times he was released weaker and more worn out than when he sought their help. I have him taking flax seed oil, spirulina, cayenne, and lots of good food. The physical therapist comes several times a week to walk with him and give him some exercise.

Tomatoes!!This is a 6 foot table!!

My grandkids are such a joy to my husband and me. We love having them over to spend time with them. Seeing them grow is a miracle unto which I wasn’t focused on with my own children. I guess that is why grandparents are special, they are experienced, wiser, and less stressed.  Notice I am speaking of myself too, ha ha!

So here I am in September of 2013 blogging after a long and busy absence. I plan to actively post now. We purchased a new computer for the business, our old one being more than 6 years old and irritatingly slow. WOW!! What a difference it is to have a new, fast, sophisticated piece of electronic equipment!! I actually enjoy typing now!

I’ll leave you with one herb to have on hand this winter – Red Raspberry. It is one of the first herbs I use in a cold/flu, icky sick tea. Red raspberry cleanses the mucous membranes of the alimentary tract. The actions are astringent, tonic, stimulant, alterative, stomachic, antiemetic, parturient, cathartic, antiseptic, and ant abortive. It contains alpha carotene, alpha tocopherol, ascorbic acid, boron, calcium, chromium, manganese, niacin, pectin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, fiber, iron, magnesium, malic acid, selenium, silica, thiamin, and zinc.

Raspberry (red)

Uses for Red Raspberry: constipation, nausea diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, pregnancy, uterine hemorrhage, parturition, uterine cramps, labor pains, cholera infantum, hemorrhoids, vomiting, colds, fevers, intestinal flu, bowel complaint, thrush, sore mouth, ulcers, and wounds. So you can see why it is such a great herb to use, and it makes a real tasty tea.

As always, Love Life and Breathe Deep,

Angela

Time, Love, Life

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : D...

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : Des crocus violets, avec leurs fleurs fermées. Italiano: Infiorescenze chiuse di piante del genere Crocus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Spring to all! It has been such a long time since I shared that I feel like the long-lost relative no-one sees or talks to. But a lot of things have been happening! After the holidays, we have worked on the basement. We have not touched the stacks of boxes since we moved, soooo there was a lot of going through stuff and more stuff and yet more stuff. Time is an odd thing to me, we use it up and wonder where it goes. We spend time planning how and where we use our time. We even plan who we pass the time with. Sometimes we just don’t think about time as it is going by, or time seems to drag on and on, and other instances time does not move fast enough for us. Time is a resource that all of us, no matter where we live, what work we do, how much money we possess, have the same amount of in each day. We can’t buy more of it, or get rid of it. We can however share what time we have with whom and where we list. And rarely do we keep time to ourselves, unless you live alone with no-one else in your life. I think of the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks. He was totally alone for years (I forget how many, 4 or 6 maybe?). However, even then he was still connected to the rest of the world because he was aware and knew of their existence. We are all connected that way. It is a spiritual connection. We feel elated when we learn of someone’s triumph over a trial, and we feel grief when we learn of someone’s strife and devastation.  I believe this is what is meant by the statement “the love of our fellow-man”.

Love is a very peculiar thing too.  It is only seen with our eyes by the writings of people who feel it, or by the actions of someone exhibiting it.  Naturally we would admit that it can be spoken, and it can.  “I love you” is the quintessential catch phrase for Valentine’s Day.  Love can have an actual physical effect on our bodies namely our heart, the symbol of love.  I am reminded of the phrase “It breaks my heart”.  Love is powerful.  The scriptures explain love in the term “charity”, saying “… charity is the pure love of Christ…”  and in I Corinthians 13:4-8 we  read “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemlly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things.  Charity never faileth…” .  Love of our fellow man is the true motivation behind every good deed, and it emanates from the heart. We feel good when we act out of love for one another.

We have a love for our families that is special too.  And that is where much of my time has been spent lately.  My father began to have chest pain in the latter part of February.  For 2 weeks he could not walk very far or do the work he had been used to doing on the house my parents are building.  He went to his doctor and was then sent to a cardiologist.  Well without going into tidbit info, he had an angiogram, which showed  his main left coronary artery was 99% blocked!!!  We were all shocked and dismayed.  He was taken by ambulance about 4 hours after this to another hospital where he was informed he needed bypass surgery – now – right now – this instant!  My dad was scared, very scared.  We all were of course.  But there was a glitch we learned we had to deal with.  Since he had just had the angiogram a few hours earlier, which included my dad taking some blood thinners in case a stint could be employed to “fix” his possible blockage, the surgeon said my dad would bleed, a lot!  And he would need a lot of blood platelet transfusions, like around 20!!!  Well as you can imagine this news put us all over the cliff with fear.  Life is so dear, and yet until you’re faced with the immediate loss of it, I am afraid we think little about it.  Life is fragile and strong.  Everything wans to live.  Plants, animals, and people fight to stay alive.  And yet sometimes life is taken in an instant without notice.  My dad is a religious man and a deacon in the church.  He was surrounded by several family members (his er room was actually full), and as my uncle, who is an elder, was about to do an administration my dad asked his nurses if they would like to stay and join in the prayer.  I will never forget this moment, it is indelible in my memory, here was this tall, large, older man, in a hospital bed in an ER room with gadgets hooked up to him, he is visually scared, and somewhat out of breath, and as he begins to speak, all is quiet and still.  He tells the nurses exactly what is about to happen, how this elder was going to anoint his head with consecrated oil and lay his hands on his head and pray for him and the doctors as we are instructed in James chapter 5:14 – “Is any sick among you?  let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick…”. When he finished he was calmer and everyone else was too.  The prayer was said while those all around stood linked hand in hand, tears came and peace came too.  After the prayer, the surgeon came in and the nurses began their prep work, we gave our kisses and hugs, and began to transfer ourselves to the waiting room.  Someone asked my dad how long the surgery would be and his reply was “It depends  on how sharp the doctor’s knife is”, he was doing better, still nervous, but better.

We waited five hours.  Around 2:30 in the morning, the surgeon comes out with amazing news.  NO bleeding!!!!!  Only 1 unit of blood needed to be used.  The operation went wonderful, the veins used to do the bypass were in super shape and he only needed 2 bypasses not the 3 or 4 suspected.  He came home a few days later, and I was there every day helping any way I could.  Time seemed to not exist those days and weeks I spent going to city to the hospital and then over to Mom and Dad’s.  But life and love were both there, reminding me of what’s truly important, what really matters.

My dad is doing great and getting around more and more.  He is still healing, physically and mentally, but each day he is pressing forward.  I told him he has to stay around and get better so he can teach his great-grandsons how to fish:).

Life, love, and time: what strange things we all have and how often do we really contemplate them?  I mention two of the three in every post I publish, at the end. I urge whoever took the time to spend reading what I share to:

Love Life & Breathe Deep,

Angela

Snow Trees

Here are some of the trees around our home after all the snowfall.  They are quite pretty.

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This is so unique, even the tiny branches closer of the trunk are covered with snow.  Looks like lace.

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This is another example.

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This is the top of the biggest tree in the front yard.  The weight of the snow is almost too heavy for that one leaning branch.

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The snow shows the shape of the three branched limb.  It is so  neat.

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That is a lot of heavy snow, the branches are leaning far over to the ground.

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Snow, snow, snow, everywhere!!!

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Here is the tall tree from the other side, and looking up the dark branches stand out against the snow on the top of them.

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The two everygreens in the front yard.

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Enjoy whatever weather you are experiencing:), I am.

Love life and breathe deep,

Angela

And Then There Was . . . Snow!

We Missourians are used to snow, a little at a time.  However, we have been the target of Mother Nature twice in the last 5-6 days!!  I remember when I was a kid we got quite a lot of the white stuff, enough to tunnel through and build snowmen all day, for days.  The snow stayed around a long time too, not just a couple inches, then melt away as the pattern has been over the last decade.  Oh it gets cold, but alas not much snow.  Not this season.  We averaged around 10-18 inches last Thursday, February the 21,  in our area.  Snow fell again to measure  8-13 inches more on top of what we received last week.

I could not resist, I bundled up and took the camera outside.  This is what awaited me – a Winter Wonderland!!Picture 515

I had to zoom at the neighbor’s house, it looked too charming in the frosty air.

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 This is a fir tree in the front yard.  Love the billowy boughs, this snow is heavy and wet!!

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 Molly smelling something in the air next to one of my big pots with last years’ plant debris.  The snow is hanging on to it pretty good.

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This is the end of the driveway and I am in the road looking east, that is our mailbox closest to me.  You can barely see the edge of the road where last weeks snow was piled up.

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This is looking west from the same spot.  You would never guess this was a gravel road.

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Here is a view of our home from the same spot.  It is going to be sloppy and muddy when this all begins to melt!!  However, that is OK, we desperately needed the moisture.

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Here is the neighbors fencing.  Some of the snow has already fallen off, but enough is still clinging on to make an interesting view.

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This is a closer look at the front porch.  The snow reminds me of frosting on a cake.

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This is yet another view of the house and the shrubbery with dollops of snow for a blanket.  (Never realized how unsightly the satellite dish looks until I see it now in the picture!  Uuuuuugllllly! Don’t look there, ok.)

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Here is the west side of the house.

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Molly thinks she can find some critter under the snow.  She dives nose first then roots around.  Sounds cold to me, bbbrrrr.

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Maybe she knows what she’s doing.

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Just then some geese flew over head at a pretty fast clip, I pointed the camera up and  clicked.  I could not see if I captured them or not until I got inside and found I did.  They are just above the wispy limbs of the weeping willow tree.

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The snow is perfect for a snowball fight, which we will have later.  Maybe a snowman or 2 or 3 or maybe a whole snow-person family. 

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Love winter, love the snow, and love that spring is next month:).

Love life and breathe deep, the air smells wonderful!!

Angela

My Garden, In My Mind

This time of year is busy for gardeners.  How can this be, you ask.  Well, planning takes a long time.  So does daydreaming about perfect rows of weedless green lushness pronounced with prolific produce!  What a mouthful that was.

Seed catalogues start arriving in my mailbox  in December.  Oh what torture it is to know  you have to wait for 4 months or so before you can really get into the soil and dig in. On the other side of the hoe is knowing you have that amount of time to plan, think, organize, and dream. Dream about how your garden will look, what you will grow, how much you will put up, and how to go about making it all come to fruition.  I  LOVE thumbing through the seed catalogues and looking at all the  pictures :).   They really get a person going with all the verdant views of plant variety.  I get about 8 of them and have ordered from all of them at some time or another.

This year I am going to do something way out there that I have never done.  I am going to have a booth at my local towns’ farmer’s market. I am really excited about it.  I plan to sell the produce from my garden and herbal products that I make.

Farmers' Market

Farmers’ Market (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

Tomatoes, of course, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuces of all kinds, onions, green beans, beets, radishes, zucchini, and squash cover the vegetables.  Comfrey/Calendula ointment, Chickweed/Plantain ointment, lip balm, relaxing herbal tea blend, peppermint tea blend, immune tea blend,  and homemade soap  are some of the herbal products I will offer.

I have already started some seeds in seed starting trays filled with seed starting soil.  It  is exciting to  see little tiny sprouts emerge through the soil!  I will start more this month and some next month.  I am also starting some important herbs to add to my herb garden.

If any of ya have done this before, please share what works and doesn’t, or anything you think I need to know!!  Let the growing begin!

Love life and breathe deep,

Angela

Word of the Week

English: Grazing Sheep and Gossamer. The whole...

English: Grazing Sheep and Gossamer. The whole field was covered with gossamer, virtually invisible unless a low viewpoint was taken into the sun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have my own spiral notebook of words, but as I was looking in the dictionary yesterday I came across a word I was familiar with, but the first definition was not what I expected. So I decided to change the word I was going to use today to this one, I can do that, because I can. 

Here it is:

GOSSAMER

Pronunciation:  [góssəmər]

Definition:  n. 1. a fine filmy cobweb, seen on grass and bushes, or floating in the air in calm weather, esp. in autumn.  2. a thread or a web of this substance. 3. an extremely delicate variety of gauze. 4. any thin, light fabric. 5. a thin, waterproof outer garment, esp. for women.

14th century. Probably < goose + summer1 , period of mild autumn weather when goose was in season and such webs were often seen in the air]
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

 The diamond-studded gossamers he painted appeared to be floating on top of the grass.

I have seen these so many times and I never knew that gossamer was the word for them!  You all probably knew this because you’re smart. In any case I learned a new word, or rather a new definition for a word today! Use this word today if you can!!!

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela