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Archive for March, 2017

Detoxin

As last year fades into a bad memory (thank the Goddess!), and this new year is hurtling forward, I am spending more time thinking of how important it is to get myself in order. What do I want out of life over the course of the next year?

I want to be happy. I want to be so happy that everyone around me gets bombarded with happiness cooties and is forced to feel happy, too.

I want to be productive. I want to use the gifts granted to me in the most productive way possible. I want to watch my business grow like never before. Not an entirely altruistic wish, I will admit, but in my line of work, my success rests on my ability to create a customer that doesn’t need to return because they are no longer in need of healing. Kind of a sticky situation, huh?

I want to be known for my honesty. My generosity. My loyalty.

But, most of all, I want to be healthy. I didn’t see much of that in 2016. For a while there, I wondered if I would even get to see 2017.  I spent a lot of time contemplating life, death and all of the in-betweens. Not just mine, either. This year seems to have been a do-or-die kind of year for me on a couple different levels. I acquired many clients this past year because the medical industry finally released them with the phrase, “There is nothing more we can do at this point”.  Liver failure. Cancer. Diabetes. Heart disease. Lukemia. I have dealt with them all this year, and quite successfully, I might add!

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll admit that I have slacked off a bit on my own health regime. A fairly frequent question is, ‘How are things going…you know…with the breast thing…?” The standard answer is, ‘Things are going great.”

The real answer is a bit more complicated. The truth is, things were going great. I did all the things I was supposed to do. I changed a few things that needed changing in my diet and lifestyle. I took all my herbs and tinctures. I did all my detox and immune builders. I eat healthier than anyone I know. I rest when I can. I stay positive. I do yoga…sometimes.

But, as time passes and I get further from the fear that motivated me to get healthy, I find myself drifting back into old habits. I eat more chocolate and drink more coffee than I should. I have those few pieces of bread or cheese that I know I shouldn’t. I stop in for a piece of pie at Slice of Pie. I skip a yoga class when I’m too busy. I forget to take my pills and tinctures. I choose a burger over a salad.

Here’s the thing that I ALWAYS tell my clients. This whole natural approach only works if you do what you are supposed to do. If you slack off, the sick comes back around. This is an issue your body is already prone to develop. It will come back if you fall into old habits. And, so it has.

I see those warning signs that I didn’t know were warning signs the first time around. I feel those strange twinges of discomfort that I didn’t pay attention to the first time around. I hear that voice in the back of my mind telling me that I had best get myself back on track.

It occurs to me, though, that there may be others out there who might be in the same predicament and they just don’t know where to start. Maybe you keep finding yourself getting sick. Nothing big or bad. A recurring cold or stomach bug. Allergies. Headaches. Tired all the time. Something just doesn’t FEEL right. I’m with you. It’s time to set things right.

Ready?

Let’s do a cleanse! Let’s flush out all that nasty crap that has built up in our bodies!

Oh, quit groaning. You know, every time I say ‘cleanse’, someone  groans and complains. They have visions of being stuck in the bathroom for hours, or feeling sick as the cleanse moves the nasties out of your system. It doesn’t have to be like that, though.  Truth is, a really thorough cleanse might have you in the bathroom a little more frequently than usual, but it shouldn’t be a traumatic ordeal. A good cleanse will likely cause some minimal stomach discomfort as the body passes toxins out via the digestive system, and you may sweat a bit more than usual for the same reason. You may even experience a ‘healing crisis’, especially if you have been sick a lot in the last year. A good cleanse will gently pull toxins and old ‘bugs’ from your bloodstream and your organs into the eliminative organs so the body can dispose of them, so you might feel bits of old illnesses passing briefly through your system. You might run a mild fever as your body kicks in the immune response. You might be a bit tired for a day or two as your body deals with healing itself.

In exchange for this day or two of discomfort, you get a huge payoff! Your body finally starts to feel like it is operating in peak condition. Headaches disappear. Belly aches don’t plague you. Those little aches and pains are suddenly gone. Your hair and skin look better. Your mind is clearer. You are less likely to catch every bug floating around there.

So, are you with me??  Oh, good! Here’s what we need to do:

First, decide what kind of juice you like best. Keep a couple things in mind when choosing;

  • You are only going to have this one juice for 2-3 days, so make sure you really like the one you choose.
  • Choose a fruit that produces a lot of juice. This cuts both your time and costs. I prefer organic grapes, apples and grapefruits.

Second, prepare yourself and your space. This doesn’t have to be a difficult experience. Here are some things you will need:

  • Distilled water. Not bottled, tap or well water. Distilled.  Why is this so important?  Because distilled water is ’empty’ water. That means that everything has been removed from it. All the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, as well as any toxins or bacteria. This leaves more room in the water molecules, allowing them to pull more of the toxins from your system as it passes through. This is a much-simplified explanation, but you get the point, right?
  • Prune juice
  • Castor oil
  • Cotton cloths
  • A good blend of detoxifying herbs. Of course, I suggest my formula, Heavy Metal Detox, but there are plenty of others out there to choose from that will work almost as well.
  • Activated charcoal (see all the benefits and ways to use activated charcoal here)

Finally, a few things to keep in mind:

  • You are going to be tired, hungry and pretty crabby for at least a day or two. Expect it, warn your loved ones, and get ready to just deal with it.
  • You may feel pretty crappy for a day or two.
  • Plan to start your cleanse a day before your weekend starts. Usually the first day is easy, the second day is pretty rough, and the third day is a breeze.
  • The plan I am laying out will only work if you are willing to give it 100%. There is no compromising on any of the steps if you want to see real results. I promise you, though, that it is completely worth it!
  • This is the protocol that I always recommend to anyone who is having chronic health issues. It doesn’t matter what the issues are. This is simply the first step to cleaning up a body that is functioning improperly. It is designed to cleanse the entire system without depriving the body of much-needed vitamins and nutrients.

Now, we can get started. Here’s how it needs to go down:

Day 1-2:

  • Drink one 8 oz glass of prune juice first thing in the morning. Yes, I know it is disgusting. Drink it anyway. Just hold your breath and chug. It’s only one small glass.
  • Drink one 8 oz glass of distilled water.
  • Throughout the day, drink at least four 8 oz glasses of fresh fruit juice. Whichever fruit you choose is fine, but remember to only have ONE variety per day. If you start with grape, keep it to grape only.
  • Drink at least 90 oz of distilled water throughout the day.
  • If you get so hungry that you just can’t cope, eat some of the fruit that you are using for juice. Don’t go crazy. Eat only enough to get you through.
  • Take at least one hot bath or shower per day, as hot as you can tolerate. Baths are preferable. Add 1/2 cup epsom salt to your bath to help speed up the detox process and reduce any withdrawl symptoms.

Day 3-4:

  • Continue as you have been on days 1-2. Gradually start reintroducing solid foods into your diet. Stick to fresh fruits/veggies. Raw is best, but lightly steamed or baked is acceptable. Veggie broth is a great option, too.
  • Begin taking the natural detox that you have chosen.
  • Up your water intake to a minimum of 128 oz (one gallon) per day.
  • Take 1 tsp activated charcoal in the morning. The most effective way to take activated charcoal is to mix 1 tsp of charcoal with 8 oz of distilled water. Drink it quickly, then follow immediately with 20 oz of water. Do this on an empty stomach, at least one hour before/after eating. Capsules are the second best way to consume the charcoal. Water requirements are the same.

Day 5-6:

  • Begin eating small, regular meals.
  • Continue taking the detox herb blend you have chosen.
  • Continue drinking at least 128 oz of water per day.

Once you have completed your cleanse, you should notice that your cravings for ‘junk’ foods has decreased, if not disappeared altogether. You will notice that your hair and skin look more vibrant, your energy level will be higher, and your mind will be clearer.

Now that you have gone to all this effort, how do we hang on to all these benefits? Keep your body clean, of course! Avoid processed foods, dairy (except raw milk), refined sugar, and white flour products (bread, crackers, etc.). If you like your meat, limit it to organic, grass-fed portions no more than 3-4 times per week. If fish is your favorite, stick to wild-caught, not farmed, and avoid any seafood coming from the West Coast or the Gulf. Drink plenty of water. Eat lots of raw, fresh fruits and veggies. Get a bit of exercise, fresh air and sunshine every day. Meditate. Get plenty of sleep. Laugh a lot. It really is that simple to begin the healing process. Happy cleansing!

 

 

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Activated Charcoal

Charcoal seems to be the trendy new health product, if the sudden influx of questions, news articles, and Facebook posts about it are any indication. However, the benefits of charcoal have been known for millennium among many . Used for everything from embalming to ship repair, charcoal has proven itself exceptionally valuable. Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.), and the ancient Egyptians employed the use of charcoal for a variety of ailments. Most notably, for it’s ability to rid the body of toxins and impurities.There is a great article on the history of charcoal, complete with ancient uses and other interesting bits of info, HERE.  There is really no sense in me repeating  what they have already stated so thoroughly, especially when we are only focusing on the medicinal aspects of activated charcoal. It’s a good read, though, for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

What is activated charcoal? This is not the same charcoal you throw on your grill, so don’t go grinding up charcoal briquets and eating them. Activated charcoal is made using coconut shells or select types of wood. Coconut shells are the preferred option due to their renewability, and because charcoal made from wood has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in those with sensitivity to certain types of nuts and woods. The charcoal is created through a process of steam, heat and washing. The result is a substance that can adsorb up to 350 times its weight in gases, liquids and toxins.

That is adsorb, not absorb. The difference? When something is absorbed it is taken in and disappears, as with a sponge. When something is adsorbed it works like a magnet, drawing substances to its surface and holding onto them tightly.

Charcoal’s uniqueness lies in the range of substances that it is capable of adsorbing. It has been shown to adsorb toxic gases and chemicals, especially those from opiates, cocain, morphine, nicotine, salicylates, strychnine, antidepressants, venom, poison, and toxic metals. This ability makes it exceptionally valuable in helping cleanse the system from addiction, and helping those with intestinal issues like excessive gas, diarrhea, heartburn and ulcers.  It has been used throughout history for treating gangrenous and cancerous lesions, to lower cholesterol, to cleanse the bowels and bloodstream, and as an antidote to many poisons. It is commonly found in emergency rooms around the world, and is an absolute must-have for every home medicine cabinet. If something a little more scientific and…well, medical-slanted is what it takes to convince you of charcoal’s value, you might check out the National Library of Medicine‘s website. If both the medical and natural world are in agreement on ANY subject, you might wanna take notice!

Take note, though, charcoal will not help with alkaline poisoning from things like lye, alcohol, mineral acids or cyanide. Those require a neutralizer like vinegar or baking soda, and that is an entirely different protocol.

The newest trend for activated charcoal is in the beauty arena, though. Little wonder, since the benefits of charcoal are often seen after a single use. Charcoal draws impurities from the skin, whitens teeth, freshens breath, and reduces blackheads and acne. It can be found in soap, toothpaste, face masques and shampoo. I’ll admit, even I have jumped on the bandwagon. Look at this beautiful charcoal soap I made!

charcoal soap

When purchasing activated charcoal, look for a source that specifies what the charcoal is derived from. Always choose organic, as this ensures it is free from chemical processing which can cause many adverse reactions.

Charcoal is available in three forms: tablets, capsules and powder.

Tablets should be crushed or chewed before swallowing, and are the least effective.

Capsules take time to break down in the digestive system, but are still highly effective.

Powder is the least expensive, most versatile, and most effective way to use charcoal.

A word of caution; it is not selective in the substances it adsorbs. This means that it pulls out the good with the bad. Vitamins, nutrients, amino acids and digestive enzymes are pulled from the body, along with the poisons and toxins. Charcoal should not be taken long-term.

Ways to use activated charcoal vary.

  • To use as an aid for gastrointestinal issues, 90 minutes before eating, you can either take 1 capsule of charcoal with 20 oz of water, or you can mix 1 tsp of charcoal with 2-4 oz of water and drink it. Don’t worry, it isn’t gritty and there is no taste at all. It is a bit like drinking thick water. Make sure you drink plenty of water over the next few hours. Charcoal will draw moisture for body as it passes through. If you fail to drink enough water, this can lead to constipation. That’s no fun at all. Drink water.
  • In the home, setting a small bowl in your fridge or pantry will eliminate odors.
  • To whiten teeth and help eliminate tooth or gum issues, use charcoal twice a week in place of your normal toothpaste. You can either use the dry powder, or you can mix 1 Tbsp powder with 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1 oz of cocoa butter to make your own paste. Dip your toothbrush in the powder, or place a small bit of paste on your toothbrush.  Brush as usual, allowing the charcoal to remain on the teeth for 3-5 minutes. Rinse until the water is clear. Charcoal won’t stain your sink, skin or teeth, but it will stain fabrics.
  • For bites and stings, mix charcoal powder and ground flax seed with enough boiling water to create a semi-thick paste. Apply the paste, extending it out past the affected area. Cover the paste with plastic. Cover the plastic with a natural-fiber cloth like cotton or wool. Secure it with an ace bandage and leave on 8-10 hours. Wash with lukewarm salt water after removing the poultice. Repeat daily until the area has healed.

So, there you have it. Charcoal is a pretty amazing substance that I suggest keeping on hand. It is easy to find at any drug or health food store. It’s cheap, it’s safe for all ages and, well,  it is kinda fun to play with….if you like that kind of thing….

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Pain happens. Headaches, backaches, wounds, broken bones, bumps and bruises. It is almost second nature for us to grab an aspirin, acetaminophen, an ibuprofen, or, for some, something a bit stronger. Unfortunately, even the safest of these options come with serious negative side effects. Liver and kidney damage, stomach or digestive issues, neurological damage. In extreme cases, even death.

The last few decades have conditioned us to believe that our options are not just limited, but non-existent. We either take the options on the market (or at the pharmacy), or we deal with the pain. Under no circumstances should we consider taking natural alternatives. Not only are they extremely dangerous, but they are quite ineffective. I’m still trying to work out the incompatibility of that last statement.

I gotta wonder, though…if natural alternatives are so ineffective, why did the medical world develop some of their best medicines from them? Aspirin from willow bark. Opium, morphine, codeine and laudanum from poppies. Digitalis from foxglove. The list is long and impressive, and pretty interesting, if you are into that kind of thing.

The point is, there is an abundance of exceptionally effective, natural alternatives for dealing with pain of all types. In truth, some of them work faster, more effectively and, well…better. These are a few of my favorites:

Castor oil packs

Most of us have heard horror stories of grandmothers forcing a spoonful of castor oil on reluctant children when they had belly aches. I simply cannot condone that level of torture, but castor oil is not without powerful medicinal benefits.

Of course, the above scenario is not without it’s benefit, either. Castor oil is a highly effective, exceptionally safe laxative for all ages. The biggest problem with this method is actually choking it down. The good news is, it only takes 4-6 hours in most cases for a dose of castor oil to completely cleanse the bowels. A little more good news, a single dose is only 1-2 tablespoons for adults, and 1 tsp for children. Mix it with a bit of fresh fruit juice and it really isn’t so bad.

Castor oil is a strong fungicidal due to its high content of undecylenic acid. Ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch…castor oil applied topically daily for a week will help tremendously in any of these situations.

Castor oil is exceptionally moisturizing. It attracts and holds in moisture, so it is the perfect addition to any beauty routine. Acne, dry hair, dry scalp, age spots, warts, and skin tags are just a few of the issues that can be improved with regular use of castor oil.

However, one of the very best ways to administer castor oil is through the use of a castor oil pack. I don’t know all the science behind castor oil and how it does what it does. What I do know is that I have seen it work over and over again to help the body heal, to provide relief from pain of every kind, in every part of the body. I have seen it help people who were in liver failure to detox. I have seen it help shrink cysts and tumors. I have seen it perform nearly miraculous things. But, that’s just MY experience with it. Sore muscles? Use a castor oil pack on them. Arthritis? Try a castor oil pack. Painful period? Use a castor oil pack. Seriously. You gotta try this!

Castor oil packs can be a bit messy, but are relatively simple to use.  All you need is:

  • a bottle of castor oil
  • 2 pieces of natural cloth like wool or cotton. One should be large enough to completely cover the area you intend to apply it to. The second piece should be larger by about 4 inches in both directions.
  • a piece of plastic
  • a towel that you don’t mind getting stained
  • a hot pack or heating pad

Here’s what you do with all of that:

  • Thoroughly coat the smaller piece of the cloth with castor oil. You want it wet, but not dripping. The piece of cloth should be large enough to completely cover whatever area of the body you are treating.
  • Cover the castor oil soaked cloth with a piece of plastic.
  • Cover the plastic with the larger piece of dry cloth. This piece is going to help hold in the warmth so it should be something heavy and natural like wool, cotton or flannel.
  • Place a heating pad on top of your cloth. That’s it. Now just kick back and relax for a spell. Leave the pack on for at least 20 minutes, but I like to leave it on overnight. You will want to put an old towel or sheet under you, because castor oil will stain whatever it touches.

You can use an ace bandage or strip of fabric to secure the castor oil pack in place.

Don’t throw out your castor oil pack after one use, either. The same castor oil pack can be used 10-15 times. Just store it in the fridge between uses and add a bit more castor oil if it begins to dry out.

This is one of those great treatments that work immediately. By the time you remove the castor oil pack you will be feeling better. When dealing with long-term and/or chronic conditions,  I have used this treatment daily for two weeks with absolutely no negative effects. For things like menstrual cramps, arthritis flare-ups, and muscle aches/spasms, we use it as often as we need to. In most cases, we are back up and moving comfortably after an hour or so.

Sometimes we need something that works a bit faster, right? And,  maybe more convenient? After all, I doubt the boss is going to approve of you taking a break to apply a castor oil pack that you will need to wear around the office for a while.

It’s cool. I have this one covered. Herbs. The answer is herbs.

Quit rolling your eyes. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Let me try to impress upon you the unbelievable power of herbs to help control pain when used properly.

I live on a farm. I do yoga. I garden. I paint. I write. I bead and sew and crochet and knit. I spend HOURS in the kitchen. I make soap. I build fires. I play with grandsons. I spend unfathomable amounts of time staring at a computer screen.  None of these activities seem especially dangerous, right? Look a little deeper.

Yoga and gardening are the source of many muscle aches, strains and sprains. Crafting, writing and gardening require the use of my hands, which are prone to attacks of arthritis, small cuts, big cuts, cuts from stems and tools (because, you know, why wear gloves like any rational person?). Hours in the kitchen can occasionally produce burns, cuts and other injuries that we need not name, as can building and maintaining fires in the wood stove. Computer screens give me massive headaches. Living on a farm covers everything from shins bashed into trailer hitches to broken limbs. Playing with grandsons…well…the danger potential there is unlimited. So, you see all of the levels of pain that my family may experience at any given moment. Keep that in mind when I make my next statement.

We have not needed a ‘conventional’ pain reliever since we started using herbal pain-relieving options. No aspirin. No acetaminophen. No prescription pain killers.

What is this miracle herbal pain-reliever, you ask? Well, it isn’t one herb. Or even two. It is a combination of herbs. While each of the herbs we are about to discuss work reasonably well for minor pain all by themselves, combining some of them can be far more effective than many of the dangerous synthetic pain pills flooding the market and killing people by the millions. Unlike prescription or OTC pain relievers, there is no risk of organ failure, heart issues, digestive issues, neurological issues…no negative side effects for a normal, healthy person. Did you catch that? These alternatives should not be used if you have some pre-existing conditions. Some of these herbs can interfere with medications, which can cause big problems. Some of these herbs should not be taken long-term. If you are not trained in the use of herbs, don’t just go taking these herbs willy-nilly. Consult a Certified Herbalist. Really. Don’t be stupid.

Okay, you’ve been warned. Now, let’s move on. I have found a beautiful blend of herbs that works fast (it has never taken more than 10 minutes to feel relief) on every kind of pain we have thrown at it. I’m going to tell you the herbs. Not the formula. The formula, Nerve-Ease, took me a long time to perfect, and is easy for an amateur to mess up.

  • Black cohosh – this root is most often used for female complaints related to the menstrual cycle, menopause, and female organs. This is because of the fact that it has many natural estrogens. What many don’t realize is that is also has a mild sedative effect, is anti-inflammatory, and acts as a mild anti-depressant, just to name a few of its benefits.
  • Catnip – yeah, the same herb your cat flips out over. Catnip is a fabulous pain reliever, and one of the safest option available for all ages, including small children. It is a mild relaxant, it settles the stomach, it calms the nerves, it reduces pain, and it promotes relaxation and sleep without any drowsiness.
  • Cayenne – there is a lot of science behind this herb, and how it works is a whole lesson in itself. We will just leave it at this: cayenne is a powerful pain reliever, and it boost the ability of any herb it is working with. One of the many additional benefits of cayenne is its ability to stop bleeding. There are very few of my formulas that don’t contain a bit of cayenne for very good reason. It is safe for all ages and requires only a small amount to be effective.
  • Chamomile – this is a wonderful sedative herb that works powerfully, but mildly, on the body and mind. It, like catnip, promotes relaxation without making  you drowsy, so you can go to sleep easier without waking up feeling foggy or disoriented. It soothes the nerves, so it is good for anxiety and depression. It is anti-inflammatory. It soothes muscles and joints. Chamomile is safe for any age and can help control just about any type of pain or discomfort you may be having. It is pretty tasty, too!
  • Hops – while best known for its use in beer making, hops has a long history of medicinal use. As with many herbs, hops has a variety of uses. Herbalists often use it for its ability to calm the nerves and promote sleep without causing drowsiness or brain fog. It is an anti-inflammatory, so it also helps with nerve pain, or pain caused from internal inflammation.
  • Mistletoe – the same plant that we stand under for a chance at a free smooch is a most excellent nervine. That means that it helps soothe frazzled nerves and helps rebuild damaged nerves. It is an anti-inflammatory, as well as an immune system builder.  Mistletoe has so many healing benefits that we can’t cover even a fraction of them here, but it also has some warnings attached to it. It is a fantastic pain reliever, but must be properly prepared and used only under the supervision of a Certified Herbalist or natural health practitioner.
  • Mullein – one of my all time favorite herbs, I could spend hours extolling it’s many virtues, not the least of which is it’s pain-relieving capabilities. It doesn’t matter what the pain stems from; Mullein will help soothe it. This is an especially useful herb for dealing with pain from broken bones, sprains and strains, as well as pain from inflamed, irritated mucous membranes in the lungs and respiratory system.
  • Skullcap – if you are looking for power and performance, this is the herb to go to. It’s pain-relieving properties are well known among herbalists, and this is one of the first choices for helping promote sleep, calm anxiety, reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being. It is not an easy herb to work with, though, and is best used fresh, as it loses much of it’s ability with drying.
  • Turmeric – If you have been on the internet in the last couple of years, you have heard of turmeric and all of it’s health benefits. It is used for everything from cancer treatment to dental care. More than 6,000 peer-reviewed studies have been done on this herb, and more are being done daily in an effort to understand it’s range of healing. Even among standard medical groups, turmeric is gaining popularity because they are finding that it is more effective than many prescription drugs for treating a variety of health issues. Pain, depression, heart issues, inflammation, stomach issues, cancer, diabetes and cholesterol are just some of the issues that turmeric is having a profound effect on, all without a single negative side effect.
  • Valerian root – this is easily one of the smelliest herbs known to mankind. Fortunately, it is also one of the best pain-relievers ever. It is a mild, but highly effective nervine that helps calm anxiety, promotes relaxation and sleep, soothes pain and promotes a general sense of well-being.
  • Willow – this is where aspirin comes from, in case you didn’t know. A long time ago, some scientist got the bright idea to extract what they believed was the active pain-relieving constituent in willow bark, then called it medicine. If they would have just left the herb alone they would have gotten much farther. Willow bark has all the phenomenal characteristics of aspirin, but it also has built-in protectors that keep it from harming the liver and other organs. It is not without dangers of its own, though, and should only be used under the supervision of a Certified Herbalist or alternative medical practitioner.

The world of herbal medicine contains a vast array of other effective pain-relievers, but these are the ones I prefer. When used together, they have the ability to fight pain stemming from nearly every source imaginable. They can replace anti-depressants, sleeping pills, nerve pills, stomach pills….pills, pills, pills. They can even help you wean off many of those pills without suffering the symptoms often seen from withdrawals.

This is by no means a complete list of the many ways natural health practitioners approach pain management, especially long-term. However, reaching for a more natural option for every day aches and pains seems like a no-lose situation. If it doesn’t work for you, there is always the option of running to the drug store for a bottle of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but why start there if you don’t have to? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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