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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cat Bite Wound Care

Knowing how to handle a first-aid situation can help avoid a lot of pain and aggravation. Incidents are never planned and always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times but it is so important to know the wisest methods to handle it. Recently a friend had the misfortune of receiving a bite from handling a terrified cat. The way she dealt with the situation resulted in additional pain, expense and time lost from her job. At least the cat was one of her own and she didn't have the commotion of worrying about rabies.

Puncture wounds from cat bites are notorious for infection. A typical cut type wound usually bleeds profusely which helps flush out dirt and bacteria. Puncture wounds don't bleed as much so the body cannot flush out the microbes. Such wounds tend to close over quickly which is not what you want since it could seal in any brewing infection. An oxygen-free environment such as this enables bacterial such as the tetanus bacteria to thrive.

To reduce the risk of infection, (this soak is great for wounds in general), wash the puncture wound thoroughly with soap and water, being sure to wash off all the soap as this could irritate the wound. Prepare an epsom salt and tea tree oil warm water soak to help reduce inflammation and oxidize the wound. The heat and salinity inhibit proliferation of bacteria. Epsom salts are crystals of hydrated magnesium sulphate.
 According to the Epsom Salt Council, epsom salt soaks can raise magnesium levels and improve blood circulation and skin integrity. Adequate circulation and oxygen saturation are necessary for wound healing. Epsom salt is not like table salt, it will not burn. Don't put salt directly on the wound.

Tea tree oil is known as the Australian wonder, renowned for its unbelievable antimicrobial qualities. Its wide spectrum of action makes it perfect for the home and travel first-aid kit. It can be found at most pharmacies and natural food stores. Look for it in 1 oz. amber glass dropper bottles. You want true therapeutic essential oil.

1. Fill a basin with water as hot as you can stand
2. Add a few tablespoons of epsom salts and stir till dissolved
3. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil
4. Soak for about fifteen minutes
5. Let the area dry thoroughly
6. Add a drop of tea tree oil directly to the wound opening (tea tree can be applied without dilution but be aware of sensitivity)
7. Cover lightly with a sterile bandage, you want the wound to stay clean but also be exposed for oxygen supply and to stay dry
8. Repeat the soaking three times a day

  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes or spinal cord injuries can cause a person to not feel temperature appropriately. Always check the water temperature with your hand or elbow before submerging your limb in the water to avoid a burn.
  • Ask your doctor if epsom salt soaks are appropriate for your wound. Do not use epsom salt soaks on an actively infected wound or a wound with nonviable tissue.

 Tea tree oil is a good choice because of its antimicrobial properties until the wound begins to heal from the inside out.

Calendula/Comfrey Healing Balm

 Don't use herbal salves containing comfrey, plantain or aloe until the wound begins to heal from the inside out. These herbs are great healers but you don't want the wound to close over too soon. Give the bite a few days and then these herbal type salves can offer their cell-repairing properties to help with healing and hopefully prevent a scar.

 Even with home treatment it is important to notify your doctor to check when the last tetanus shot was administered. Tetanus boosters are usually given every ten years but with an incident it may be given if five years have elapsed.

Explain to your doctor how you have taken care of the wound and be sure he/she approves. You may not need to make an appointment but at least they have record of the incident and you received advice. Depending on your physician he/she may not prescribe antibiotics unless necessary.
Keep a watch for signs of infection:
Redness, warmth, swelling, pus, increased pain or a foul smell. Should you notice red streaks on the skin radiating from the injury get to the doctor as soon as possible. You will need antibiotics.

Be aware that if you are on blood thinners or have a condition in which you are immunocompromised, your risk for infection or delayed healing are increased.

Bites on the hand often end up effecting the tendons or bones. Oral antibiotics may not be enough to reach the source of infection, thereby requiring the need for IV antibiotics. A few days in the hospital may be what is necessary to finally put such an ordeal to rest. I had to go through this myself recently with one of my own housecats. He got his claw caught in a kitchen cabinet hinge and in his flailing around trying to retract the claw, I foolishly got involved by not thinking before I reacted.
At first I thought I just got scratched but there was a tiny puncture that in being so tiny it closed over very quickly. I ended up doing two rounds of antibiotics but the area just never fully returned to normal. Being the knuckle joint was effected there was the concern that damage to the tendons could result in permanent damage to the joint. So almost two months later it was decided to go to the ER and get myself admitted for IV antibiotics and get an MRI. So in the end I had to seek the consult of an Infectious Disease doctor as well as a hand surgeon. Thankfully I did not need surgery to clean up the tendon and was told that the IV antibiotics should be sufficient, but jeez, what a hassle.

What happened with this friend was the error of procrastination due to the inconvenience of the whole thing. She didn't soak the wound and bound it tightly with a bandage. She waited to seek out a physician till the pain was intense and the finger joint swelled with signs of traveling infection. She was put on antibiotics but in wanting to give the antibiotics a chance and not go through the painful ordeal of opening up the wound she resisted the doctor's advice and another week went by. By then there was a good chance the infection went into the joint. So in her procrastination to avoid inconvenience she ended up with having her finger sliced open with a temporary drain, a large bulky bandage, another round of antibiotics (she did avoid the necessity of antibiotics through an IV), and at least two weeks off work.
Since she had avoided the doctor visit she hadn't checked into her medical records as to when she had her last tetanus shot which by the way was overdue. Tetanus is not to be fooled around with, it can be fatal. The spores produce a toxin that interferes with nerve function, leading to muscle spasms, pain, seizures, difficulty breathing, and "lockjaw".

Live and learn.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Woes of a Weekend Warrior

 Do you periodically wake up on a Monday morning, wincing with each movement, hoping the hot shower will sooth and loosen up those sore muscles?

With spring in the air beckoning us outdoors, we tend to get overwhelmed with the mental list of what needs to be done around the yard and home. Time away from our work schedules is precious so of course we try to make the most of every minute on our days off.

With the charged energy in the air of sunshine and warmer days, there is the tendency to go overboard and try to do everything at once. The raking of debris, picking up sticks, cleaning up the lawn mower, preparation of those garden beds... all those motions that can overuse muscles that aren't accustomed to the bending, lifting, pushing and pulling. We cram as much into our free time as possible and risk paying the price with a stiff back, shoulders, knees or whatever else put in overtime.

 Many of us feel a bit out of shape when we first dive back into the outdoor work of spring. Just remember to pace yourself next weekend. Eventually that list of chores will get done.
Just be prepared for those bodily protests with a few natural, herbal remedies to keep on hand.

Weekend Warrior Balm
Weekend Warrior Relief is a sore muscle relief balm which utilizes two herbal infused oils, comfrey and ginger root.

Called the living medicine chest, both the leaves and roots of the comfrey plant are important. High in silicic acid comfrey can reduce swelling, bruising and strengthen ligaments and tendons. Also known for its allantoin content, a crystalline oxidation product of uric acid, comfrey stimulates and accelerates tissue repair.

Ginger root is used for its aid in increasing circulation which enhances blood flow to the damaged tissue or achy muscles and joints.

The addition of shea butter adds to the therapeutic value since this rich soothing butter helps to heal bruising.

The cool, refreshing aroma of wintergreen and peppermint essential oils greet you upon application of this balm. They both contain analgesic properties which help soothe tired, sore muscles and joints.
Helichrysum essential oil is from the garden flower you probably know as immortelle. This oil has a reputation for improving circulation and the regeneration of nerves and tissue repair.

Wintergreen essential oil contains menthyl salicylate. If you are allergic to aspirin, pregnant or breastfeeding please consult with your doctor before using a product containing menthyl salicylate. Be aware of this product containing menthyl salicylate before using on children.

Convenient and portable in a 2 oz. plastic jar, keep on hand for gratifying relief whenever needed.

Anti-Inflammatory Massage Oil

The power of touch can do wonders to work out those hard, ropey, knots in our strands of muscle. You don't necessarily need another person or a massage therapist to benefit from a massage. Whatever area you can reach will appreciate a good deep kneading to work out those painful points. Use kneading motions as you apply an anti-inflammatory massage oil blend into your neck, shoulders, lower back, calves or your own tired feet.

Should you have the luxury of someone to actually give you a back massage, enjoy the warm, flowing motion of their touch as the anti-inflammatory properties of the essential oils in this oil blend help you relax and find relief.

The chosen essential oils for this blend are lavender, eucalyptus, juniper and chamomile. All contain anti-inflammatory properties which means they help reduce inflammation, pain and swelling in the joints and muscle tissues. Useful for relaxing those muscle spasms, the aches of arthritis, and tension headaches. Elimination of bodily toxins and fluid retention are both helped along by the increase in circulation.

Carrier oils used are almond and jojoba oils. Almond oil is very popular for massage oils because it is nourishing, gentle and glides easily over the skin. It absorbs quickly but not fast enough that you feel you'll need to stop and reach for the dropper bottle. Jojoba oil is very similar to our natural skin oils and easily penetrates and nourishes.

Such relaxation techniques as massage just may reward you with an improved temperament, less irritability, and a more restful night's sleep.

So help your overworked body to repair itself with safe, all-natural home remedies and remember moderation is the key for next time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Am I Loved or Am I Loving?

We had the privilege of attending a beautiful wedding ceremony and took home a message so very important for a successful relationship.

This wise pastor reflected on his past experience of observing what he feels is happening by the time two people seek out his council with fear their marriage is in trouble. He made a point to state that we should not view our partner as the missing piece needed to make us whole. We cannot view ourselves as an incomplete puzzle with our partner as that missing piece. He said it sounds romantic to speak poetic like that but to take it literally puts the partner in the position to feel pressured and in part responsible for the other person's happiness. We are not a possession of one another.

The secret of a healthy relationship is to not to say to ourselves, "Am I loved?", but rather "Am I loving?" To continually question whether we are loved does nothing but put the other person in the position to feel tested and having to prove his/her love. We are told that love is a verb which is very true. To love is an action but we have to stop interpreting every little annoying thing our spouse does as failing us in some way. That "if he loved me he wouldn't be so thoughtless" or "if he loved me he would already know that without me having to tell him".  That pattern of thinking adds to our own insecurity which soon puts a wedge between two people. Insecurity becomes very draining to any type of relationship and the end result is the desire to escape.

To ask ourselves whether we are loving forces us to observe our behavior and how we must appear to that other person. It puts us outside of ourselves in a better position to focus on where our energy is being spent, are we focusing more on giving or receiving. 

The pastor made a point that the 50/50 attitude of each partner giving 50% to the marriage is not how we should view things. If we only gave 50% to our careers we certainly wouldn't get very far. We need to view marriage as needing 100% of our contribution just as we do with our job performance. Couples should not mentally keep a tally of the give and take, who does what. He stressed the importance of communication to remind us how differently men and women think, what is obvious to one partner my be oblivious to the other. When our actions "are loving" we receive tenfold in return.
To feel valued and appreciated is essential for the emotional health of both partners.

In closing his message, the pastor advised for everyone to turn to those they love and say "thank you".

Are you loving?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wrinkle Wrath Includes the Sun


Be it Spring Break or that winter get-a-way to a warm place, by February or March people tend to crave the warmth of the sun's rays. Opportunities to spend more time outdoors are wonderful for our physical and emotional well-being, but do your skin a favor and prepare for exposure to the sun.

During one of my used book store jaunts, I picked up a very informative book about skin care called, "The Wrinkle Cure" by Nicholas Perricone, M.D.

An interesting question from the book was "Does the skin on the face age faster than the skin on the rest of the body?"
Apparently, it is the way we treat our skin, not the aging process, that ages facial skin the most. Dr. Perricone explains that there are two types of aging, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic or internal aging is the rate of aging that occurs with the passage of time. Extrinsic aging or external aging is intrinsic aging compounded by external factors such as sunlight, air pollution, cigarettes and inflammation caused by harsh detergents, cosmetics and illness.

The prime culprit of extrinsic aging is sun exposure. Compare the skin on your body that has been exposed over the years to sun and the areas such as the torso that have protected by clothing. Exposed skin eventually looks more discolored and less taut.

While young, the body has the ability to repair itself very quickly, but as we age that ability diminishes. Free radical damage is a universally excepted explanation. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron in interactions with other molecules. These molecules become very unstable and thus steal electrons from other healthy molecules. Therefore, every time free radicals seek to stabilize themselves, they damage healthy cells. Our cells use oxygen to produce energy and resulting free radicals are a natural by-product of normal bodily processes.

The body has its own defense system for fighting free radicals. This system is the power of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent free-radical damage by giving these out of control molecules the electron partner they seek, thereby making the free radical harmless. The problem lies with balance. Free radicals are also unleashed by external factors like sunlight, cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. Unless we can replenish antioxidants by way of proper diet and/or supplements the body's antioxidant system gets overwhelmed and the free radicals become unchecked, creating havoc. The  superstars recommended by Dr. Perricone are vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid and alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Foods to include are: avocado, bell peppers, berries, melons, dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, pineapple, tomatoes and salmon.

One of the substances that gives our skin its youthful suppleness and tautness is a protein called collagen. Collagen is the strong connective tissue that holds us together. This protein holds our skeletons together, attaches our muscles to our bones, and keeps the organs and skin in place. Normally, collagen molecules slide over one another, but once they've been damaged, they become inflexible, resulting in skin that starts to look "old".

Time does march on and even if we do manage to avoid cigarettes and the sun, our bodies still proceed with the aging process.

After the age of about 30, the skin's oil glands reduce their production and the loss contributes to dry skin. Both sexes experience a drop in hormonal levels as they age, but in women the decline is more dramatic. With a decrease in estrogen levels the skin's fat layer begins to thin, resulting in the skin becoming drier, less firm and more fragile. Being men produce testosterone, their skin tends to be thicker than that of women, therefore women tend to show signs of aging sooner then men.

Melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, begin to diminish as we reach the age of forty. Melanin determines skin tone, and as the skin loses its ability to fight sun damage, the result can be uneven pigmentation.

Even with the unavoidable passage of time and its effects, we should  do all we can to properly care for our health and appearance inside and out.

Wrinkle Wrath
Wrinkle Wrath with SPF
Be sure to moisturize your skin and drink plenty of water for good hydration. The Meadow Muffin Gardens shop offers a selection of facial moisturizing creams, lotions and butters. Our Wrinkle Wrath cream is not only a great moisturizer but contains various essential oils known for their anti-aging qualities.

The use of a sunscreen of at least SPF-15 and wearing a sun hat with at least a 4 inch brim can do wonders to protect your skin and delay the onset of those dreaded wrinkles. The above picture is just one of the beautiful sunhats handmade by a California based business called Freckles California. Below are two great companies that offer not only sunhats but sun protective clothing and accessories such as sunglasses.

Vacations, lawn work, gardening, outdoor events and hobbies, all add to the excitement of the anticipation of warmer weather. Enjoy every opportunity to get the most out of every day. Just prepare, and remember, everything in moderation.

Sunday Afternoons

Sun Precautions

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Herbal Alternative to Moth Balls

Spring is upon us and it will soon be time to pack away our warm fuzzies and bring out the shorts and t-shirts.

Rotating our clothing to coincide with seasonal weather has long been done in homes with either limited closet space or as an attempt to repel or kill wool moths in the off season. Many of us can recall the gagging response after opening the tubs in the autumn months to pull out our sweaters and such.

The use of moth balls was rarely questioned. It was the way it was done and we got used to the smell till the clothes aired out. Now that I understand what is in those little balls or flakes, it makes me cringe to think we inhaled that stuff year after year. Moth balls are a registered pesticide containing naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene. How they work is that these chemicals go through a transition from a solid state to a gas. That gas is toxic to moths. In a sealed container the build up of the fumes is what kills the moths and moth larvae. That is fine. The problem lies in conditions where there is extended exposure, especially in children, the elderly and pets. If your family uses this method for storage, just be sure to open the containers outside or in plenty of ventilation and let the clothes hang and air out for a day before wearing. Do not wear the clothes immediately after retrieving from storage.

Inhalation of vapors causes headaches, respiratory distress, eye irritation and many other symptoms. Ingestion causes toxic poisoning leading to liver damage,respiratory failure, seizures, heart arrhythmia, and the possibility of death.

Moth balls have also been used in the garden or around flower beds to ward off cats and other garden pests. Being a registered pesticide, the label on the box is specific for how it is to be used. No where on the box does it say to use outdoors as a repellant. In doing so, it puts children and pets at risk for ingesting them which could result in poisoning. It can't be assumed the strange smell and taste would deter children from thinking these balls are candy. And when it comes to dogs, some will eat the strangest things.

A more expensive, but much safer alternative for storing clothing would be to invest in a cedar chest or add cedar blocks or cedar shavings (like that for critter bedding) to tubs before sealing with the lid. In past generations, most young girls entered marriage with her own cedar chest filled with linens and quilts she would need to start housekeeping. That chest would become a treasured place to store items that would become heirlooms. The cedarwood was very effective in protecting these items and even books from damage by moths and silverfish.

 Below are directions to make your own herbal sachets to repel clothes moths. You can just toss them in your drawers, storage tubs or hang them with ribbons onto clothes hangers for your closet. Thrift shops are a great place to find fabric scraps for which to cut the fabric squares.

1/4 cup lavender flowers, dried
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops cedarwood essential oil
8 fabric squares, cut with pinking shears into 6 inches square
8 pieces of string or ribbon about 6 inches long

1. Add the essential oils to the lavender flowers using a glass jar. Don't use bowls you eat out of because the essential oil scent will cling.
2. Cap the jar and let it set for a few days to give the scents time to permeate the lavender flowers.
3. Lay out the fabric squares with the design facing down.
4. Place a heaping teaspoon of the scented lavender on each piece.
5. Bring the edges up and tie together with the string or ribbon.
6. Place your sachets in with your woolens.

Another option:

2 ounces rosemary, dried
2 ounces mint dried
2 ounces thyme, dried
1 ounce ginseng root, dried and ground into a powder
8 ounces of whole cloves 

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and blend.
Follow above directions for making fabric square sachets