Friday, August 26, 2011

Staying Healthy as Life Happens: 10 Preventative Healthcare Routines

Nora Dockery, age 3, happy and playing in a No. Carolina field.

Peaceful Greetings Dear Readers. It’s been a minute since I posted my last article. I had every intention of doing one or two posts a month. But hey, life happens and we do the best we can. I hereby declare again that I will make one or two posts a month. By the way, my months stretch from 30-60 days--☺

In the past year, I’ve been laid off from my job, lost my health insurance, downsized my living situation and turned in my car. Like I said, life happens.

And, on the other hand, my son graduated from college, my daughter is starting high school and they are both healthy and happy. I’m a full-time urban bicycler. It's great exercise! I sleep through the night and wake up rested. I am grateful!

At 52+ years young, I am infinitely thankful for my good health and strong physical ability. No pills, aches or pains and I still get my “Moon” like clockwork.

Me (in blue) with good friend Sala Ajaniku in San Francisco photo: Asual Aswad

And now, I have another opportunity to expand who I am.

In the meantime, I am without health insurance, like so many of my kindred global beings. So, I heartily embrace the healing and healthy living traditions of my ancestors who stretch 7 generations back in New Orleans and Mississippi.

I face the same situation they did which is having no health insurance or limited access to it. I do what they did and take care of myself by maintaining a routine of preventative health care so I don't get sick. And if I do fall ill, I use natural remedies to treat the ailment. Our healthcare industry is not based in preventative care or holistic healing but rather relies on "drugs" to mask the symptom and other aggressive treatments. I’m afraid of “them” and besides, I do a better job at my healthcare than they would anyway.

It's time to start using some of the preventative health care routines the wise ol’timers did to stay healthy. My grandmother, Maw-Maw, is a testament to that. She’s 104 years young. MawMaw is a New Orleans native who moved up to Oakland, in the 1940s. She lived on 54th street below San Pablo Ave. for over 50 years. She cooked with garlic in everything and had her occasional garden of seasonal veggies like peppers, collards, tomatoes and milliton (chayote squash).

Eveline Elizabeth Prayo-Bernard at age 104. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 19, 1908. photo: Kai Allison Gordon, 8/11

Here are 10 Healthy Living Routines to maintain good health:

1. The Daily dose of Cod Liver oil or another omega3 like Flax seed oil.
Cod Liver oil has omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, is an immune booster and is anti-inflammatory which keeps your body oiled and joints from aching. It also helps prevent dementia, alzheimers and degenerative conditions associated with aging.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar tonics.
Cuts the mucous from your system, maintains healthy intestinal bacteria so you poop regularly, anti-inflammatory, kills viruses and bacteria to ward off colds and flu, helps regulate blood pressure. Granny from North Carolina would take regular vinegar shots after she’d eat dinner to “cut the mucus.” Use 1 tablespoon in a 1/4 cup of warm water and drink.

3. Castor oil.
Cleanses your colon to eliminate toxins and tone your intestines and help ward off colds. Take 4 times a year at the beginning of each season. Take one tablespoon and wait.

4. Eating chalk or clay from the side of the road.
Pulls toxins and heavy metals from your body. Your body does not digest it, so it expands and pulls toxins and metals from your body and is eliminated in your poop. You can get it today in the form of bentonite at any health food store.

5. Eating a lot of vegetables, fruits and beans, which were organic back in the day.

6. Eating minimal meat, which was also organic back in the day. Folks used to say “I knew what was in my cow, chicken or hog because I fed it.”

7. Cooking with healing foods and spices such as tons of garlic, onion, peppers, cayenne, vinegar, bay leaves, basil to name a few. Garlic and onions are natural antibiotics and antiseptics. Cayenne and peppers move the energy through your body and eliminates mucus. Eating collard, kale, mustard and turnip greens and drinking the pot liquor are very nutritious.

8. “Sip” on or take your seasonal tonics such as yellow root (aka goldenseal), mullein or sassafrass in the fall. All strengthen your immune systems to ward off colds. Mullein is also an expectorant and a great decongestant that can be sipped on or smoked. Also used in baths to reduce swelling and pain from inflammation.

9. Make your body more alkaline by drinking plenty of water with a lemon squeezed in it. Many people have a high acidic ph in their bodies which contributes to dis-ease.

10. Move it our lose it! Move your body by dancing, exercising or doing your regular chores. Even mopping, washing and hanging your clothes, vacuuming, carry your own groceries, gardening, hiking, walking the hood or the lake are good ways to exercise.

Breathe deep and slow and give thanks for the journey you’ve had so far. We all have amazing stories to have made it this far.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this. I canvassed the North Oakland area yesterday promoting Phat Beets farmers market (Saturday's on the corner of 57th and Market Streets in Oakland) and “chopped it up” with many of my neighbors. A few houses from where I live on 57th Street, I met a southern born 90 year old gentleman who was sitting on his porch. He has lived in his house on 57th Street since 1961. I found out he was a merchant marine who has travelled the world 3 times. What experience and stories he had and has to share. Many of our elders live among us and have valuable things to share. Let’s engage our elders and learn from their wisdom.

Below are a few of those down-home southern remedies for arthritis, rheumatism, gout and general inflammation that worked for the folks who used them:

Oak Bark soak and poultice for swelling and joint pain

With an axe or a sharp tool, shave the bark down to the wood on a small section of the oak tree. Peel the bark back like skin and tear off several pieces, about 5-10. Place bark in a pot, cover with ample water and slow boil it for about an hour. Soak the painful or swollen area in the solution or rub it on. You can also soak a cloth in the oak bark solution and wrap affected area with the cloth. If you use the oak bark as a rub, save the remaining solution with the bark in a glass container and use as needed.
Image of oak bark

Oak bark contains the minerals manganese, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. It has strong anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It strengthens blood vessels and tightens tissues.

Mullein leaf bath, poultice and tea for swelling and pain

Image of mullein in South Carolina field. photo: Michele E. Lee

The mullein plant has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Southerners often soak in a mullein bath or drink mullein tea to reduce pain and inflammation. The Mullein plant grows plentiful in the southern landscape. If you can’t find a plant nearby, you can always go to your local health store and get the tea, tablets or tincture.

How to use:
Bath or soak
Cut 4-6 dried leaves per 5 cups of water; boil in a pot and soak your feet or whole body in a bath for at least twenty minutes. If you soak your body in a mullein leaf bath, add approximately ten leaves uncut.

Mix 4 parts (4:1:1) dried and finely chopped mullein leaf to one part water to one part apple cider vinegar. Heat up and put in a cotton cloth and place on affected area.

Celery stalk broth to treat Gout

Many people have successfully treated their gout by consuming celery. Mama Farlice of Los Angeles, CA– Candie’s, Vickie’s and Bobby’s mother - recently gave me this natural remedy which works for her gout. Chop a bunch of celery, place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and drink the broth, eat the celery. You can also take celery extract, 75 mg. 2x a day or tablets. Include celery in your diet.