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Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

It’s Christmas time again. This time last year we were just getting through my whole breast cancer fiasco, feeling quite jubilant that things were looking good. We thought that we had survived the worst that could happen to us. What is it they say about pride going before the fall?  Yeah. That.

So, here we are again. This time around, though, it isn’t me. Instead, it is my child. Like some horrible, nightmarish monster that crept up on us while we weren’t looking, this brain tumor of hers has thrown us all for a loop. Oh, I have no doubt we will beat it into submission. Not really. Maybe because I simply refuse to accept losing as an option. Maybe because I am that arrogant. Maybe…maybe…maybe… I really hate that word. But, still, every now and then the fear wriggles it’s way into my thoughts and makes my breath catch in my chest. It paralyzes me for a few minutes. It makes me wonder if I have completely lost my mind, for the course we have chosen to defeat this tumor is not the easy choice, or the normal choice. But, we do still believe it is the RIGHT choice. It is the choice that gives my daughter the best chance of coming through this without brain damage, or loss of speech, motor skills or sight. It is the best chance of her actually healing from this thing, and not just coping for a few years until it kills her.

So, we keep going. Every day, we wake up and do it all again, praying that with each dose, each treatment, each sacrifice, that we are one day closer to winning this horrible, awful battle. I watch my beautiful girl struggle to accept the things she cannot change. Things like having some private time with her boys because she can’t be left alone with them in case she has a seizure. Things like not being able to drive her boys to the doctor or the store or the park. I see her frustration when she feels like a child who can’t be left unattended and my heart breaks for her. I watch as she chokes down another dose of whatever concoction she needs to take to make this thing go away.  I see her strength and determination, her spirit, her bravery, and I am so very proud of her.

This post isn’t really about all of the wonderful things that my daughter is, though. When I sat down and started writing, it was with the intention of sharing our planned journey so that someone else might benefit from our choices. I have been amazed at the many people who have contacted me asking what we are doing about her brain tumor. Not out of morbid curiosity, but because they (or someone they know) has the same issue, and the standard medical choices given to them are killing them financially, physically and emotionally.

As with my own treatments for breast cancer, I am hesitant to share all that we are doing. Not because I am a horrible person who wants to keep it all to myself, but because some of what we are choosing is frowned upon. Because, if the very worst happens and this doesn’t work, the repercussions could be catastrophic. But, maybe (there’s that word again), it is time to share. Maybe, someone else out there needs to see for themselves if there is another way to beat this thing.

So, here goes. The good, the bad and the ugly.

First, I have to tell you all once more that I am NOT a medical doctor. I don’t have a license to practice medicine. I am a Certified Herbalist. Nothing more. I cannot recommend that you take a single word of what is to follow as anything other than my  opinion, which I have come to after many, many years of studying, researching, investigation, questioning and experimenting. I do not suggest you try any of this at home. You have been formally warned, right?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we are in regular contact with Summer’s primary care physician, and we have scheduled her next MRI at the Siteman Cancer Center in March, where we hope to hear that the tumor has shown significant improvement.

The first thing you must understand is that a brain tumor, whether benign or malignant, is a very different thing than cancer. The brain is this unbelievably magnificent structure that has complicated, built-in protective mechanisms that man is still working on trying to penetrate. While this is normally a really good thing, it also makes it much more difficult to treat anything that happens to go wrong within the brain. Finding a course of treatment that will actually penetrate the blood-brain barrier without inflicting further damage is a challenge, to say the very least. Then, you have to find things that will kill off the tumor without causing any kind of inflammation, and will not damage or endanger the surrounding tissue. Next, you want to dissolve the tumor, or cause the ‘bad’ cells to heal and turn back into ‘good’ cells. There is quite a bit of science behind it all, and I really don’t have the time, space or brain capacity to break it all down for you, but if you reading this right now I am going to assume that you have already done most of that research on your own. If that is a wrong assumption, then I suggest you take the time to do so. Treating a brain tumor kinda makes treating ‘normal’ cancer seem easy.

After countless days of research, we believe that we have come up with a multi-faceted approach to getting rid of this thing. The medically educated among you may, by the end of this post, be shaking your head and calling me foolish. Since many of you quietly believe I am peddling snake-oil to the unsuspecting on a regular basis anyway, all I can say is…bite me. I’m on a mission to prove you wrong. Some of you will be wondering why we didn’t just choose surgery, radiation or chemo. The answer is, we studied all the options. All of them. Not one of them offered any more hope than the course we have chosen. Some of you will be cheering for us from the sidelines. You are the ones that I adore. Thank you!

And, I am finally to the point. What are we doing to treat this brain tumor? Maybe, the easiest way to do this is to simply lay out Summer’s daily schedule for you.

As soon as she wakes up in the morning, she takes her first of three daily rounds of ‘treatments’. She rubs a salve into her scalp that is made with coconut oil, lemon grass essential oil, clove oil, and cannabis extract. The massage helps stimulate the scalp. The coconut oil is believed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to carry the lemon grass, cannabis and clove oils to the tumor, where they can begin to break down the tumor. Here is the first point of contention. The medical machine is reluctant to admit that any natural options will help destroy cancer cells and tumors. The natural community swears they can. There is plenty of research results to be found on both sides, some quite slanted in one direction or the other. So, I will leave it at this: My research has led me to believe that these three oils offer very real possibilities in helping to break down the tumor.

The scalp massage is followed by two honey-based herbal syrups, fresh juice and/or smoothies, and a mushroom extract. The honey-based syrups were a little tricky because she is also nursing a 4-month-old. We don’t want to use anything that could possibly harm the baby through the breastmilk, and many of the herbs commonly used to treat tumors can be bad for infants and children. We used a raw honey-base for both syrups because honey is a fantastic option for penetrating the blood-brain barrier.

The herbs we chose for her immune-enhancing syrup are red clover, burdock, dandelion, pau d’arco, ginseng, astragalus, slippery elm, echinacea, amla, and milk thistle. Many of these serve more than one purpose, which is a bonus, but most of them were chosen for their ability to strengthen the immune system. A healthy, strong immune system is essential for helping the body to heal itself. Some of the added benefits of this blend include mild cleansing effects, improved brain function, protection of critical organs and a general tonic effect on the entire body.

The herbs in her second syrup were chosen for their ability to help cleans the eliminative system. These herbs include red raspberry leaf, dandelion root, burdock root, parsley, plantain, self-heal, yellow dock and yarrow. Again, these herbs all have more than one benefit, so…yay!

Because some of these herbs can decrease the milk supply, she also takes a lactation supplement to keep up a steady supply.

For her mushroom extract, we decided on a dual-extract blend of Turkey Tail, Lion’s Beard and Chaga mushrooms. I cannot even begin to tell you all the benefits of these three beyond their ability to kill cancer cells and tumors, but there is plenty of info to be had by doing a simple search. I have started taking this extract myself, and I highly recommend it for everyone as a general brain and overall health supplement.

Summer also takes a product called LipH. It helps balance the body’s pH levels which is believed to help kill things like cancer cells and tumors.

Throughout the day, we also have to incorporate other herbs into her diet. Green tea, ginger root, turmeric root, aloe vera, onions, garlic, Himilayan pink salt, Vitamin C, omega-3’s, B vitamins, as well as a wide variety of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

We have cut out any and all toxic chemicals. Things like shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion and food have to be completely chemical free.

Daily detox baths with Epsom salts are required. Daily exposure to fresh air and sunshine to boost her Vitamin D and fresh oxygen supply. Daily castor oil packs. A daily drop of poke root extract to cleanse her lymph system. Three times a week she takes a dose of activated charcoal to help pull out toxins from her body.

Maybe the most difficult part, though, is the things she cannot have. Sugar, flour, dairy and meat. Try going a day without any of those things and you will understand how much of a struggle it is to accomplish such a feat! Each of those things will feed a tumor, so I guess the incentive is there, but still….it sucks! All of this after spending a week doing a juice fast to flush out as many toxins as we possibly could and reset her immune system and other organs.

Because of the risk of seizures, we also do our best to make sure she is getting plenty of rest, and we keep the stress levels as low as we possibly can with three small children and two families living in the same house. She keeps a bottle of anti-seizure extract on her always. Just in case.

Of course, everyone’s first question is, “have you considered CBD oil?”  We absolutely have considered it. What we determined is that cannabis oil, not CBD oil, is a valuable tool in this fight. One of the most valuable, in fact. It is my sincere hope that my state makes it legal very soon. The fact that  any government entity would try to stand in the way of allowing such a potent, effective medicinal substance to be available to anyone who needs it is abhorrent. Sadly, many people will remain silent until it becomes a personal issue for them.

So, there you have it. This is how we are hoping to save our daughter.  This is what we are putting our faith in.

The other question I keep getting is, “How much does this form of treatment cost?” My first instinct is to ask, “Does it matter?” The answer, of course, is yes. It does matter. Considering the fact that most people choose the treatments presented by their doctor because their astronomically-high insurance will cover those options, the cost of natural treatments can seem like too much to handle. I get it. I was blessed to have a friend set up a Gofundme account, and a whole list of angels that were willing to help us out,  that allowed us to pull this off. A realistic cost expectation for 3 months of ‘treatments’ is between $2,000-$3,000. That isn’t including things you don’t expect like chemical-free personal care products and organic foods. Expect to spend an extra $150-$250 on these per week.

We have lots of support and many people asking how Summer is doing. She is doing great. She hasn’t had a seizure since the one that sent her to the hospital in the first place. She stays on top of her treatments. She has to be careful to not overdo it, and sometimes even simple things like grocery shopping can cause her to have a rough day, but she is staying strong. She isn’t any different than she was a month ago, personality-wise. She is still Summer.

Finally, is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it risky? No more risky than surgery, chemo or radiation. Is it difficult? At times. Will it really work? We are betting my daughter’s life on it, so I sure hope so!

 

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Life on the farm is always a learning experience.  It has been especially so for me in my capacity as an Herbalist.  Every foray into the yard has the potential to reveal a new medicinal plant that I didn’t realize was there.  My computer is stuffed full of photos taken with the hope of identifying some new treasure.

Therein lies the frustration also.  There are some plants that I stumble across and think, “I know that is something, but I just can’t quite remember what it is…”.  There are some plants that I stumble across and think, That should be something,” but it turns out to be nothing more than an interesting weed that has no medicinal value, but it has abundant aesthetic appeal.  Either way, I usually end up digging a piece of it up to bring home and plant in my ‘special place’.

So, it occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t the only one having this problem.  Therefore, I am going to make a great effort to share with you, my loyal, devoted readers, my finds.  Hopefully, I can save you a few hours of frustration when you are attempting to identify plants for yourself.

To keep things interesting, I am also going to post pictures of the things that I cannot positively identify.  Be the first one to identify it and you will win a special gift, so make sure you leave me a link to your e-mail.  If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you your gift!

Plantain

This is narrow leaf plantain, or plantago minor.  It grows like crazy year round, in just about any soil, and under almost all conditions.  If left alone, eventually it will grow to be quite large, the leaves often reaching a length of more than 1′ tall.  I have transplanted this herb successfully, but it seems to self-seed quite readily if allowed.

There are two types of common plantain, and both of them have the same medicinal benefits and grow under the same circumstances.  You can find a great picture of broad-leaf plantain, or plantago major here.

Plantain is an awesome herb and Mother Nature certainly had a plan in mind when she created this one.  It is incredibly handy to have nearby during the summer months when stinging or biting insects are everywhere.  A single chewed leaf placed on the affected area can provide nearly instant relief to the pain, itching and inflammation that accompany those summer insects.  Got a cut?  The same treatment helps.

There is more to it than that, though.  The leaves of this little fella contain tannins, which are astringent.  This means that it is able to draw tissues together, be it internally or externally.  This can help stop bleeding, as well as speed healing.

  • Plantain is a natural source of potassium and calcium.
  • It is a diuretic that can help with the kidneys, liver, spleen and bladder by flushing out impurities that contribute to infections in the urinary tract.
  • It is helpful in any type of female complaints.
  • It may help control cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • It is a very mild laxative.
  • It soothes the mucus membranes and helps loosen and expel phlegm from the lungs and respiratory system.
  • It soothes the stomach and helps ease indigestion and heartburn, as well as any other  inflammation or irritation of the intestinal tract. It is believed to help absorb toxins in the bowels, allowing them to be released from the body.
  • It contains salicylic acid, which is the predecessor of synthetically-made aspirin, which accounts for its effectiveness at relieving all types of pain.

Plantain is a great field first-aid herb.  Ever been strolling through the grass barefoot and stepped on a bee?  A piece of broken glass?  A stick?  Pick a couple of leaves, chew them up really good and cover the sting or wound.  This will help stop pain and bleeding, reduce swelling, slow the spread of poison, and protect the wound until you can obtain proper medical treatment.

Because plantain grows in all but the very coldest of weather here in Missouri there is little need to harvest and dry it, and it is much more effective when gathered fresh.  However, the years that I haven’t dried any, I’ve inevitably found myself in need of it during the cold snow and ice of February.  I have found the best way to dry it is on the lowest setting of my dehydrator, as it is prone to mildew if not dried quickly.  Ideally, it should be dried in a single layer, maintaining a temperature of 85-95 F in a dark place that gets plenty of air circulation.  When it is crisp but not crumbly, it can be stored in a paper sack or a glass jar.

Like most herbs, this one can double as a filler in your salad, too.  A few leaves chopped up and added to your plate of greens will add just a hint of bitterness that will help stir up those digestive juices and give a little kick to your taste buds, too!

Red Clover

Everyone knows what red clover looks like, so you probably didn’t really come looking for a description. Here’s a quick one, anyway…

Soft, spiky balls grow on long stems.  Beautiful leaves of variegated green (like in the picture above), or dark green with a pale green arrow-shaped marking like this:

It grows everywhere around here…along roadsides, in fields and pastures, in lawns and gardens.  Rocky soil, sandy soil, clay soil, perfect soil.  It really isn’t picky.  It puts off two crops a year ~ once in early/mid spring, and again in mid/late fall.

It’s incredibly easy to harvest, also.  When you see a patch, pluck the pretty little flower and dry it in a single layer in a warm (85-95 F) well-ventilated area.  Many of the dried blooms will retain some of their color.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with the real reason I wanted to post this herb.  Like plantain, it’s a medicinal powerhouse.  So much so, in fact, that even the government and big pharma have had to acknowledge it as medicinally viable, even if they do so only grudgingly.

Numerous studies have shown red clover to be exceptionally helpful in treating many forms of cancer.

Used internally or externally, this is a valuable herb to have on hand for just about any ailment.

  • Purifies the blood
  • Cleanses the liver
  • Improves circulation and cardiovascular health by increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol, in the bloodstream.
  • Encourages bone growth, slows bone loss and boosts bone density
  • Adds strength and flexibility to arteries
  • One of the premium sources of phytoestrogens which help increase the levels of estrogen in our bodies, thereby reducing menopausal symptoms
  • Contains vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and Vitamin C.

For those of you who have never wandered through the feel and picked a clover blossom to chew on, you are totally missing out.  The blooms are sweet and somewhat moist, making them perfect for adding to spring or fall salads, especially if you are looking for a vitamin and mineral boost that doesn’t come in the form of a pill!

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