Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sipping tea and thinking...

I was sitting here recovering from surgery scanning my facebook account and thinking about how much time it's going to take for my body to recover from the surgeon's knife. Yes the surgery was necessary, I had an umbilical hernia that was around 3 inches in diameter on the inside.  The outside view had more than doubled over the past year.

I saw it there, and it felt funny, but I just figured it was a fat blob.

I had been working on strengthening my abdominal muscles, and did not realize what the hernia was. My previous family physician changed positions so a new doctor came into the office.  She is a very thorough person and found this hernia on my annual visit.

When she first told me I said I would just wear a belt.  Figuring that strengthening my abdominal muscles more would correct the problem.  You know, I just figured I had to work harder to make it “all better”.

I came home a bit rattled from that appointment, especially since she told me to not lift anything over 20 pounds.  Mind you I had just unloaded 2000 pounds of feed in 50 pound bags.

I got online and did some research. Much to my chagrin I discovered that I could not “fix” it by working out.   It seems that when you have a hernia, the more you strengthen the surrounding muscles the more it pulls apart.

I called the doc back and had her office make the necessary appointments so I could get this thing fixed.

Then I got angry. I had been telling my previous physician for 4 year that there was a pulling sensation throughout my abdominal region. Not once had she checked it over. I was angry at myself too, for not realizing what it was and seeking another opinion.

As it stands, it all worked out for the best. There is no way I could have taken care of my invalid mother, or the kennels, on my own after this surgery. So the timing worked out well, my husband is on vacation now and is taking care of the kennels for me.  As well as helping to take care of me. 

My mother is living in a wonderful adult living facility, with a staff of nurses, and aides to take care of her; and has a room-mate that she is very good friends with. Receiving better care than I had been able to give her the year she lived with us.

2010 definitely had it’s challenges. I thought of listing them… lol… but it sounds like something out of a murphy’s law soap opera. 

I am still here, looking into this coming phase of our lives.  My husband and I have been together since late 1990, married since October 1991.  For the most of this time he has been gone on the train working.  This spring he is retiring from the railroad, so rather than being together ¼ of the time and on the road the rest of the time… we are heading into a new time of being together much more of the time.

I am sure there will be adjustments and such. But am looking forward to actually being able to enjoy some time together.

So here is to the next phase of our lives… It’s been an interesting ride so far…
Life is a Journey, enjoy the trip
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch

Some common seasonings have surprising benefits

 Good article for those of us interested in living a healthier lifestyle.  Enjoy.

Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch


Cumberland Times-News

January 31, 2011

Herbal remedies can have numerous uses

Some common seasonings have surprising benefits

Emily Newman
Cumberland Times-News
— CUMBERLAND — Black cohosh, witch hazel, ginseng and slippery elm have been in use as herbal remedies for hundreds of years. But the most widely used remedy is not something only herbalists and natural healers prescribe.

“Garlic is the most-used medicinal herb in the world,” said Mimi Hernandez, the coordinator for the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies at Frostburg State University.

Hernandez, also a clinical herbalist with the Council of American Herbalists Guild, named numerous benefits to the commonly used member of the Alliaceae family, which also includes other pungent root vegetables like onions, shallots and chives.

Eating garlic as a first response for colds is something that Hernandez does herself.

“Garlic fumes kill germs,” said Hernandez, adding that in addition to the detoxifying qualities of fumigation of the lungs, it also boosts the immune system.

Hernandez said that garlic is good for pin worms, which commonly affect children, and soaking garlic cloves in honey for a few weeks, then draining it off, provides a tasty treat for kids.

Both Hernandez and Rosie Cupler, owner of the Herb Barn in Grantsville and certified licensed practical nurse, agree that garlic is a good cure for earaches.

Cupler recommends dripping a few drops of a garlic oil and tea tree oil combination, while Hernandez pairs her garlic with mullein flower and olive oil for a similar effect.

“I think this is a phenomenal remedy because it is so effective,” said Hernandez.

Cupler said that another common spice for alleviating common cold symptoms is capsicum, or cayenne pepper. Cupler recommends mixing cayenne pepper with tomato juice to alleviate a sore throat immediately and to help with the onset of cold itself.

Hernandez agrees.

“I always say, spice it up to clear it up,” said Hernandez, who also recommends cayenne pepper for cold symptoms.

Hernandez said that cayenne pepper works so well because it  has antiseptic qualities, stimulates secretions, washes microbes away and helps to stimulate the blood flow for healing.

“An eighth of a teaspoon on the tongue,” recommends Hernandez, also saying that if you can handle more, take it.

Sunshine Brosi, an ethnobotany professor at FSU, has a doctorate in the study of the relationships between people and plants and has learned how it relates to the Appalachian Mountains.

“(I’ve) really focused on the Appalachian region,” said Brosi.

One of the herbs that Brosi says is popular for this region is black cohosh. The root is known to help menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings. Brosi also said that it is growing in popularity as an alternative to hormone therapy.

On Hernandez’s website, she lists black cohosh as helping with headaches, joint pain and water retention, and also lowering blood pressure.

Brosi also said that witch hazel is often sought out in the Appalachias for its astringent qualities and is good for treating acne and hemorrhoids.

Keyser, W.Va., resident Dorothy Malkie has been a supporter of alternative medicine since she started nursing school in 1943.

“It’s very complicated, and you have to know your own body,” said Malkie.

Malkie grows herbs that she mainly uses for cooking, but does make peppermint tea, which she said helps her to relax and soothe stomachaches. Another antidote that Malkie praises is a homemade cough syrup of onions and honey, which is something she learned from her mother and frequently uses for her husband’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“I’m not against home remedies. They work very well for me, but I do have a background,” said Malkie, adding that her nurse’s training from 1943 to 1945 taught her much about it.

She says that back then, even to give a cup of peppermint tea to a patient, they had to have the doctor’s approval.

One spice that both Hernandez and Cupler recommend cooking with is tumeric. Both said that it helps with arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory qualities. Hernandez said that it can help in the prevention of heart disease and with hayfever.

Hernandez recommends that for a tasty remedy, mix tumeric with “your favorite nut butter to help with arthritis.”

Another popular regional mainstay of alternative medicine is also a member of the onion and garlic family.

“One harvested pretty often is ramps,” said Brosi, adding that they are good for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Emily Newman can be contacted at

Herbal remedies can have numerous uses » Local News » Cumberland Times-News

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