Arthritis Homeopathic Treatment

Several years ago I noticed that my hands were sore and stiff in the morning. I thought maybe I had just over stressed them while at work. Being a chef I use my hands constantly and constantly moving them between hot and cold my hands are often numb from working with refrigerated food items all day. The problem was the feeling in my hands began to spread to my elbows and shoulders, and my feet were becoming affected, as well as my lower back and hips. The question became what the hell is going on with my body and what can I do to stop it?  It was quite disconcerting to realize that my body was attacking itself from the inside.

So first I wanted to know what was going on. Not being familiar with arthritis I had some research to do so I turned to the usual source for my questions these days, the Internet. First I looked at symptoms, Pain, Stiffness, Swelling, Redness, and decreased range of motion. Then having verified that yes I might have early onset arthritis I paid a visit to my doctor. My doctor looked at the symptoms and did some tests and yes I had the beginnings of arthritis. Its always nice to have someone tell you your fears are justified. So my next question was what type of arthritis? was osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis? and what were the treatments?

That’s a  lot of questions and the doctor said it was probably rheumatoid based on the symptoms and from what he saw or didn’t see on the x-rays I had early onset Rheumatoid Arthritis. Well great, I started my research and found that family history is a great place to start. So I got on the phone with my mom and asked if arthritis ran in the family? “Oh yes , She says your grand mother had it I have it and your sister has it”. Well that seems strange, just the women? and then she goes on to tell me that she has been diagnosed with Lupus and Gout! Wait, what the hell, these are auto immune diseases! I thought heart disease ran in our family, what the hell was going on.

I was shaken to the core and not ready to give in to this future, so I was faced with the question what can “I” do to stop this. Well the doctor said that I could take a over the counter pain medication. (Taking Tylenol every day for the rest of my life was not an option)

Options:

Analgesics: reduce pain, no effect on inflammation

Non Steroidal anti inflammatory: Reduce  pain and inflammation

Counter-irritants: stops immune system from attacking joints

Biologics: Targets protein molecules involved in immune response.

Corticosteroids: Reduce inflammation and Suppress immune system

That all sounded fun! but none of them treated the disease just the symptoms. I was looking for a way to stop and possibly reverse the damage that had been done already. I started looking at immune system health and how this affects the body. I started noticing a trend in the causes of autoimmune disorders . Bacteria or virus, drugs, chemical, environmental, and hereditary. OK now this is getting interesting my Immune system can be affected by external influences. This I can do something about and If I can change my immune system I can change my symptoms.

Now before I go on, I am not a doctor, lets get that clear. Other than the medical training I had in the military, I don’t have a medical background. What I do have is a food and nutrition background with and unlimited amount of personal drive to affect my condition. I decided to attack this on all fronts. First I had to eliminate the possibility of a viral or fungal infection. With that ruled out I started looking at the other factors and came up with a plan to effect my environment, diet, any possible chemical toxins, and exercise. I realized this is a lifestyle change and I had to have the right frame of mind to accomplish this monumental undertaking.

A positive attitude is everything! Get your brain into the game, stress and a negative outlook will destroy all the positive things you are trying to accomplish. Remember you are fighting a war and you cant win a war unless you believe you are going to win. Stress directly affects your immune system. Exercise: find an exercise program that increases blood-flow and flexibility and muscle growth to support the joints. Diet: What you put in your body directly affects the health of your body. Environmental. Reduce the amount of chemicals your body is introduced to.

With this plan in mind and being a chef I first addressed diet and found that there are foods that can positively and negatively affect your immune system and affect your symptoms. Foods that will help your overall immune health and treat  your symptoms, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, fatty fish (omega 3), garlic, tart cherries, turmeric, vitamin C.

Foods that negatively affect your immune system and symptoms Night Shade plants (Tomato, eggplant,potato,most peppers) foods high in trans fat, red meat,fried foods, prepackaged baked goods, soda or high sugar drinks i.e.energy drinks, High fructose corn syrup.

This is also true for gout sufferers which is caused by the bodies inability to process uric acids crystals causing swelling and pain in joints. The diets are almost identical for arthritis, gout, type one diabetes, heart health and obesity. There is a definite  pattern to all of this and it was glaringly obvious to me that the solution was so simple. The question then became why are we not seeing this on the news, in government publications, and its only being talked about by the fringe of society and in the deep dark corners of the web. The answer was less than sinister and so obvious. Money! the medical machine cant make money off healthy people. The food companies where not willing to cut profits in order to make the food healthier and the government doesn’t get millions of dollars from the food counsels to tell people not to eat meat. It’s up to the consumer to decide and vote with the all mighty dollar.

Here is the food pyramid recommended by the Government circa 1970

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Here is the average Americans diet

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And here is the modern recommendationimages

But I was trying to go further, I needed to repair the damage I had done and rebuild my immune system and body to fight the disease that had taken hold of me. First I wanted to clean out my body and get rid of as much of the poison I had accumulated over the years. I decided on a strict vegan diet would be the best option because I wasn’t doing this for 24 hours, I was going for the big game, my life! One month was my target to get as much of the toxins out of my body and rebuild my immune system as much as possible. I also started an intense exercise program that included martial arts training and body conditioning. When I began I was 20 lbs over weight (according to my BMI) and I had other things like tinnitus, high blood pressure and chronic sinus issues to deal with. I held back for almost 6 months to start the diet because I was convinced that I needed to eat meat to be healthy for exercise. I had lost about 5 lbs from exercise but I had gained muscle at the same time so I thought I was doing well.

Diet is 90% of the Battle

When I started my diet I had a plan in place for meals and plenty of recipes to choose from including some of my own. There are a ton of cook books out there so I wont bore you with a list, just know the information is there for you if you decide to try this. One foot note Herbs and seasoning are your friends. The first week I lost 5 lbs, the second week I lost 5 more by the end of the third week I noticed I had not only lost 15 lbs and reached my goal BMI I noticed a distinct change in other things as well. My skin was softer and more healthy, My Tinnitus had all but disappeared, my joints were no longer stiff and sore, my blood pressure was normal, and my testosterone levels were climbing.  It was all connected, all of it. that’s when I had my “Ah Ha moment ” and set out to keep improving my quality of life. I am very careful about what I put in my body. I found I had an allergy to dairy ( not a lactose intolerance but an allergy) that caused abdominal bloating, Sinusitis, dandruff,skin irritation, and IBS. Gone! don’t miss that stuff or the dairy at all. I don’t drink sodas or eat food that has been processed. ( I found croutons in the store that contained high fructose corn syrup! Why?)  I read labels and wash my fruits and vegetables well, (Chemicals) I don’t use heavy chemicals to clean. Plain old soap and lemon juice work just fine. I make my own weed killers and organic gardening techniques. Like I said earlier this is a “Lifestyle Change” you cant go half way it doesn’t work like that, its all or nothing. Remember its a war with the battle being taken on with no quarter. I have added 3 oz of meat a day back into my diet but stay away from red meat completely. I eat vegetables as 90% of my diet and also add Beans, fruit, and nuts as much as possible. If you reduce the money spent on meat and buy vegetables instead you will have so much more food. I eat constantly but gain nothing in weight. I have gone from large meals to multiple small meals and my body processes food much better. Drink lots of water to help your body process your food and keep hydrated. Good luck on your journey but remember its all or nothing there is no half way when your life is on the line.

 

 

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Are We There Yet?

When I began my journey into the world of martial arts, I was not expecting to become so involved. I didn’t expect the study of martial arts to become such a big part of my life. Well long story short I did and it has.

When I began my journey many years ago, ( too many to mention without wincing) I came into it expecting to learn a style of martial arts that would translate into actual fighting. That being said I dabbled in several styles, a year of Tai kwon Do, Boxing, wrestling and others but never a serious study of martial arts. I looked around were ever I lived and every dojo I went into just didn’t look like what I expected martial arts to look like.

What should martial arts look like? well I’m a uber geek when it comes to martial arts movies. I think I’ve seen every Shaw Brothers movie ever made

all of Bruce Lee’s movies, Every Jackie Chan,  Chuck Norris,Jet Lee, Donnie Yen,and every episode of Kung Fu ever made. I just didn’t see that in a lot of the dojos I went into. What I saw were people (some in multi colored Gi’s) that had created their own styles and were taking hundreds of dollars for the privilege of learning what they had created. Most of these styles had no basis in tradition and the people teaching them seemed more interested in filling their classes and less into who I was. Not one of these people asked me about me. They always talked about the schedule and payments. Sign up for six months and get a discount… I got the same thing when I signed up for a gym membership, and I gave up my gym membership because I didn’t like the atmosphere or the people that worked there.

I was looking for something for my ten year old son that would help him boost his confidence, focus and a feeling of teamwork. I was looking at the soccer and baseball leagues here in town on the city web-sight and saw that they offered traditional karate as well so I went down and signed him up for the wait list. Well the Sensei called me about a week later and asked if I would bring my son down to check out the class and see if it would be something he would like, He went on to explain that it is a traditional style and he wants to meet us and show us what the style is about. Well… this was new, and a pleasant surprise. He didn’t even mention money ( which was less than a monthly gym membership)

Well we went down and watched the kids class and I noticed several black belts and a brown belt there helping with the kids, A little unusual I thought and the age range was between eight and thirteen and it was obvious to me most of these kids had been there a few years. We watched the class and I immediately recognized several classic Chinese styles in the karate that they were practicing and I knew the style came from Okinawa, but not much else. The class was very serious and traditional and I saw the type of martial arts I had been looking for. The Sensei was a seventh degree black belt  that had been studying the style for thirty years.

The style is called Uechi-Ryu and it comes from Naha Okinawa by way of Fujian  Provence in Fujian City in Southern China. It s called Pangainoon and has influences of White Crane, Tiger, and Dragon.threeAnimals The Sensei went on to explain that the style had not changed for over one hundred years. All this history and tradition appealed to me, and not just the style but the fact that the person teaching the style spent the time to explain the history of the style, and he actually seemed interested in my son and myself. It almost seemed like we were being vetted. Later I would find out, that is exactly what was happening.

Well having picked the style I did a little background research on the origin what the style was and the history of the style. What I found was pretty impressive so I started thinking about doing it myself. The style had all of the elements of martial arts I was looking for. I also found out that the masters of the style were still teaching in Okinawa. These masters, some of them in their eighties and in great physical shape. This really interested me because I had always believed that a lifestyle of martial arts study could extend quality of life.images (3)

So I started taking the adult classes after the kids class and realize now three years later what changes this study of martial arts has made in my life. Due to the physical conditioning the changes my body has undergone in the last three years are life changing. Not only do I have the opportunity to train under one of the highest ranked Sensei in the World, but I have met some incredible people including a grand master in another style that eventually I hope to train with.  I know I have just begun my studies and I’m not close to where I want to be, But the journey to my goals will be filled with rare opportunities that a non traditional style would never give me. So to answer the question, “Are We There Yet?” the answer would be No! but to quote Master Po”Patience Grass Hopper, Patience”

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The biggest thing I have learned is that sometimes its not the style as much as it is the teacher. And make sure the teacher isn’t some self appointed tenth degree black belt.

Excuse Me , Are You The Manager?

201501_1253_gidbe_sm The simple phrase Excuse me are you the manager? can trigger the fight or flight instinct in any young manager. I have seen restaurant managers hide, cry, sweat, act like a heavy weight getting ready for a fight. These are reactions from years of verbal and physical intimidation at the hands of restaurant guests. I was lucky, I was raised in a military household and spent six years in the military myself, I also had worked with some pretty explosive chefs so by the time I started working in the front of the house I had a pretty hard outer shell. But most restaurant managers for the most part, don’t have the years of experience I had. With this in mind I look at confrontation with customers a little different than most and carry a sense of humor that borders on the slightly warped,( Thank You! Monty Python and Dr Demento )

  So with that in mind I’m going to share some of the funnier confrontations I have had with customers. Id like to start with a little story I like to call The Mercedes. The  story starts when a woman walked into the restaurant to pick up her take out order. 11282133_420126578166597_186207448_nShe claimed that she had been waiting outside for over an hour, even though we had only had the order for 20 minutes, The order was ready for her but she felt she shouldn’t have to pay. I was working expo about 10 feet from the exchange between her and the manager on duty and even though it wasn’t my fight I saw the young manager starting to cave so I stepped in. I walked up to the woman and offered my assistance. She made her claim again at which point I pulled up her order on the computer and explained to her that from our records we had only had the order for twenty minutes and that it had been ready for the last five. She then proclaimed that she was not some low life and that she drove a Mercedes. I smiled and told her congratulations and that she still would not be comping her food at this time being that we were well within acceptable service time. (My face totally dead pan). At this time she pushed the issue insisting it had been well over an hour that she had been outside waiting. I then asked if she had called upon arrival like we had asked her to, so that we would know and be able to bring her food out. She said “No” she had not and that we should have been able to find her because she drove a MERCEDES. I than asked if she had pulled out front of the restaurant like she had been instructed so that the valet would let us know she had arrived. Again the answer was “No” she informed me she was parked out in the mall parking lot but she told them on the phone that she drove a MERCEDES, so she would be easy to spot.  Again I congratulated her on her choice of vehicles, and informed her that because she failed to follow any of the instructions given to her at the time she placed her order and the fact that we were well within the time we quoted her over the phone that there was nothing I was willing to do for her at that time. I thanked for her business and even offered to carry the order out to her Mercedes. She declined my kind offer.

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  This next tale of customer relations I like to call Reverse Psychology, One sunny Southern California afternoon I was working the front of the restaurant, my General Manager Roy was working Expo and it was a nice busy lunch everything was going well and I was making my rounds of the tables when I was stopped by a table I had already been to by a woman asking me “Excuse me, are you the Manager”.  I smiled and reintroduced myself and asked how I could be of assistance? The woman informed me that their food was cold and wanted to know what I was going to do about it? I asked her if she would rather have me heat her food for her or remake the dish which would take a little longer. She looked me right in the eye and said” The food was brought to us cold and that I should be buying them lunch and offering them something else. I smiled and informed her that their food was delivered hot twenty minutes ago because I had delivered it myself, seeing that their waiter was taking an order at another table. Roy , my General Manager, was only about fifteen feet away and watching the whole exchange with interest. She then suggested that her food had sat on the counter of expo getting cold because the waiter was busy. I than informed her that the gentleman standing behind the counter at expo was the general manager and that he had asked me to run the food as soon as it came up. She then called me a liar and informed me that she new the food was cold when I brought it over. I asked her at that point if she was suggesting that the General Manager would allow someones food to sit in the window until it became cold and pointed at Roy. At this point Roy, unable to hold back, informed her from across the counter that the food came out of the oven and was brought straight to her table. I then suggested that the food was brought over hot, but in their enjoying their conversation and wine that they had allowed the food to become cold, and reiterated my earlier offer to re-heat or re-make the food. She looked me right in the eye and said “OH NO! Your using reverse psychology on me”. I stood up from my kneeling position next to her table and said I would be happy to re-heat the dishes, no longer offering to remake them, or box up her food for her so she could take it home and reheat it herself. Realizing she had offended every person that would be handling her food she asked for the boxes, boxed it herself paid her bill and left. Moral: Sometimes reverse psychology works!

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There are so many stories I have yet to tell but it will have to wait for next week.

Food for Thought

Restaurant Survival 101

I have been in the restaurant service industry for twenty five years and I have noticed a trend over the last ten years that is worthy of mention. In the last ten years or so I have noticed a shift in the attitude of customers that has become quite alarming. People have started walking into a restaurant and become overly demanding of the establishment, almost as if they were owed something. There is a sense of entitlement that goes with this attitude that I find particularly distasteful. It used to be when people would come into your establishment, they were a guest. They were treated as a guest and acted as a guest. A guest doesn’t walk into your home and make demands and expect you to meet all their demands no matter how trivial. A guest walks into your home and accepts the fact that you will do the best you can to accommodate their needs. There is a level of respect that is agreed upon between you and the guest when they arrive.

I have actually seen people walk into a restaurant and treat it as if it where their living room, shoes off feet up, allowing their children to run around (I’ll touch on that subject a little later). They don’t acknowledge you as a human being let alone as their host and the person who will be responsible for meeting their needs. This coupled with that sense of entitlement I talked about earlier creates a sense of broken trust and resentment. Do these people realize that by their actions they will receive the minimum in hospitality from the staff. And nine times out of ten these are the cheapest people you will meet.

Complaint

  I will let you in on a secret, If you show respect you will receive respect. If there is ever a problem with something in the restaurant and you talk to the manager in a polite tone and demand nothing, you will find that the manager will go out of their way to not only fix the problem, but will go out of their way to make sure the rest of your visit is above your expectations. If you are demanding and short with the manager and wait staff they will do the bare minimum to get you out of the restaurant. I have personally seen restaurant managers avoid a table because the table was acting like a bunch of self important, demanding, rude guests. Remember if you are rude to the server the first thing they do is go in the back and tell the manager and the whole kitchen what an asshole you are. service2

If you are polite and patient the server will come back to your table more frequently. If you have a bad server, It’s OK to talk to the manager if the server is not doing their job well, but, do it with respect, don’t be aggressive, don’t tell the manager how to do their job, and unless you are a professional restaurant manager, Don’t offer your opinion. We don’t care that you were once a waitress or waiter( you probably weren’t that good at it). We don’t care that you are sure the customer is always right (Your Not), and we don’t care that you are going to call and complain about us. I’ll let you in on another secret, We rarely ever get in trouble for complaints to the call center or corporate head quarters, or the owner. They just pass the complaint back to us for an “Action Plan”. That is code for Bull Shit! Most Managers are more than happy to fix whatever they can while you are still inside the restaurant. I have had people call a week later to complain about something that occurred while dining in the restaurant and expect me to do something about it. Really?

images (5)  Now I would like to touch on something that as a parent I find really deplorable. If you feel the need to bring your children with you to a restaurant, realize that unless your children are very well behaved and have manners they are not appreciated for being the “Little Darlings” you believe them to be. We are not your child’s caregiver, Nanny, babysitter,teacher etc. Would you allow your child to yell, scream and run around at your bosses house? Of course not. Why then would you subject everyone around you to your little hellion when these paying customers have just as much right to a positive dinning experience as you do. If you are not adept at teaching your child how to behave, then stay home! If your child has special needs, please let the server know, they will do everything possible to accommodate you.

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There are good and bad restaurants , just as there are good and bad customers. If you experience one of these “Bad Restaurants” you have the option of never going back. The worst thing you can do to a restaurant is never return. Restaurants live and die by the repeat customer, so they want you to return. The average restaurant can only last a few months on new business before word gets out that they are bad. This is why restaurants open and close so frequently. What the industry refers to as Mom and Pop restaurants are a dying breed, which is too bad because some of these restaurants are real treasures. The Chain restaurants are fine if you like that kind of food, but there is no creativity in the kitchen and they don’t attract the best of the culinary world. If you love restaurants like I do, give the independent restaurant a try once in a while. You might be surprised at how good these places can be. The other upside is you are supporting the local economy, these restaurants supply their food locally and for the most part hire locally. There are even restaurants that specialize in the “Farm to Table” mentality so often times local farms and ranchers are used. You get better quality food that is going into your dishes. Another hint, Chain restaurants get there food shipped from a central location that mass produces the products and gets their meat from large factory farms that use mass feeding and slaughtering techniques to keep up with the demand for the restaurants. This practice is bad for the animals, the environment, and the quality of the food you are eating.

Chicken nuggets anyone
Chicken nuggets anyone

Body Conditioning and Martial Arts

Strong Body, Strong Mind, Strong Spirit

Uechi hand and forearm conditioning Jarsdownload

There are many people who argue against body conditioning in martial arts, but for me there is no substitute for a conditioning regimen when it comes to martial arts. I know I’m not alone in this belief ,but for me it’s personal. Some will argue that doing constant pounding on your body doesn’t do anything but potentially harm your body, but the long time serious practitioners will tell you that a regular regimen of body pounding not only strengthens the muscles and tendons in your body, but also strengthens the bones and makes the bones more dense. Although there has never been any documented evidence collected or comprehensive studies done, I personally have seen the benefits of this type of body conditioning.images (3)

To have bats broken over forearms and shins, doing this to the average person and you would break limbs. This Practitioner in this photo has been Training in Uechi Ryu Karate for many years and following a very punishing body conditioning regimen. But they don’t just condition their limbs but fingers and toes are also conditioned.

Just like ballet dancers, practitioners of Uechi Ryu also train their toes so that they can take incredible punishment.images (2)

In several styles that are based in  Chinese Boxing you will find finger strikes and toe strikes. By strengthening your fingers and toes you can use these as weapons with devastating effect.  These styles include Crane, Tiger, and Dragon three of the images (4)

Five Shaolin styles used in southern styles of Kung Fu that were brought to Okinawa and taught to the locals in the area of Naha. You will also see similarities in other styles like Wu Shu and Wing Chun. These styles also share in the use of extreme body conditioning.

imagesThe Makiwara board is used to strengthen the hand and toughen the knuckles so that when the punch is delivered minimal damage is sustained by the fighter delivering the blow. Also used for conditioning the thumb and wrists used for strikes with deadly effect.

There is also conditioning done with a partner called Kote Kitei and Ashi Kitei. This practice (Kote Kitei) involves arm pounding, chest pounding and stomach pounding. The use of Kote Kitei is used to strengthen the  chest, forearms and core. When a punch is thrown and blocked by a person who practices kote kitei you could end up with a broken arm. The fore arm and legs are used as weapons and hardened to the point that it will break the limb of anyone that tries to attack. Ashi Kitei is the conditioning of the legs to be used to block attacks and used as a weapon.download (1)

These styles also check body conditioning using Sanchin Shime. This is a practice where the student will stand in Sanchin Dachi stance and receive hard heavy blows on particular parts of the body from the instructor that allows the teacher to see were the student is at, and allows the student to see that they can take a much greater level of pain than they thought possible without giving up. This attitude of being able to take a shot is important to a fighter while in a fight, it takes a level of fear away from the fighter and allows them to focus the opponent and not worry about sustaining serious injury. This level of confidence can critically change the outcome of a fight.

Is body conditioning important? In a hand to hand combat situation body conditioning give an undeniable edge to the martial arts practitioner that has a regular body conditioning regimen. I have seen it time and again were a person that practices with body conditioning is able to receive an attack and overpower their opponent with just a few blows.