Monday, December 24, 2007

Winter Blues and Pains

With winter comes cold and with cold comes many other complications. Ice and snow often accompany the winter weather and some folk have to deal with it. Yet most folk today are not accustomed to the rigors of shoveling deep snow and such efforts often carry a big price. Even walking in cold weather can bring considerable discomfort.

The cold tends to make muscles tense up and then they often bunch up in tight knots. These can cause pain throughout the body. When the muscles tense up through the shoulders and neck, a person can have terrible headaches caused by this tension, headaches that feel like they start somewhere in the back, shoulders, or neck and migrate up the back of the skull and shoot out through the eyes.

Several things can be of help.

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Moist heat can be of tremendous help. The best that we have found
is a rice pack that can be heated in the microwave. A simple hand towel can be folded in half, preferably lengthwise, so that the edges can be sewn. Then the resulting bag can be filled with rice to the desired fullness, and the remaining edge can be sewn. It is usually best not to over fill the towel, as the fuller the bag is filled the stiffer and harder it becomes. Some flexibility is preferred. The rice bag can then be heated and then applied to the stiff and aching muscles. Depending on the amount of rice filling the bag, heating on high for a period ranging from four to six minutes works well. (For filling your hot pack, use the rice straight out of the bag from the store. DRY. Do not add water or precook. Simply use the rice as purchased from the store. The moist heat is produced from the moisture in the air.)

Be careful not to overheat in the microwave, for the rice will scorch. Also, it is possible to burn oneself if the bag is too hot.

As an alternative a damp washcloth can be wrapped with a towel and then heated. This method is more tricky. One must be very careful not to burn one’s skin.

Of course, a hot bath or shower is another relaxing method. Also, soaking in Epson salts can help.

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Massaging the muscles also can be of great benefit. Massaging the scalp and temple areas, even gentle massaging of the eyes can bring relief. Often knotted areas in the neck, shoulder, and back can be gently massaged away. Massaging is not a quick process. It usually takes ten to fifteen minutes or more. Sometimes gently massaging the more intense areas for a few minutes, resting a few minutes, and then massaging a few more minutes can give a relax time for the muscles. Also, the area where the pain is felt may not be the area where the muscles are most tense. Sometimes the areas with the most tension may be several inches away from the area where the strain seems to be.

Stretching exercises can help relieve the muscle tension as well.

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A quarter teaspoon of Turmeric, the yellow spice in mustard, can help to relieve many headaches and helps with muscles sometimes, too.

Oil of oregano helps with inflamation.

Used in conjunction with Bromelain, an enzyme extracted from pineapple, relief from sinus and bronchial symptoms can often be obtained. If the persistent hacking of bronchial drainage is ever a problem, this combination can be a very effective remedy. Bromelain alone is also very effective.

A saline sinus rinse is also very helpful. The usual mix is one eighth teaspoon of salt with one eighth teaspoon of baking soda in eight ounces of water. The saline rinse can be placed in the palm or a tablespoon and snuffed through each nostril. Be sure to do this over the sink. Most drug stores and pharmacies also sell a nasal rinse kit with premixed packets and a nasal squirt bottle.

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With the nervous tension and the tendency to eat too quickly or too much during the feasting season, keep the Turmeric available for headaches and for heartburn. In many cases, a quarter teaspoon of turmeric will bring quick relief for either a headache or for heartburn. It is inexpensive and has no negative side effects.

Oops! Almost forgot Ginger as a relief from upset stomach and nausea.

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A blessed Christmas to you.

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