Wednesday, December 21, 2011



If you have a goal in life.....
That takes a lot of energy
That incurs a great deal of interest
And that is a challenge to you
You will always
Look forward to waking up
To see what the new day brings..............

If you find a person in your life
That understands you completely
That shares your ideas
And that believes in everything you do
You will always
Look forward to the night
Because you will never be lonely

©Jayde Dow


Fibromyalgia Survivors Creed

F…Find joy in each day. There is joy in each day--it is up to each of us to overcome our obstacles and find      
it. When I find it, I will claim it as my own. I will feed my soul.
I…Investigate medical developments so that I can be an active partner in my treatment. I will not place my well-being in someone else's hands out of ignorance. I will       accept responsibility for myself.
B…Be true to myself above all things. I can give to others only when I am well. I will take proper care of myself.
R…Respect the needs of my family, friends and co-workers. This is not their problem and I cannot force their acceptance or understanding. I will accept only that        support which is offered freely. But that doesn't mean I have to accept "garbage" from insensitive, uncaring people. I will stop trying to live up to the unrealistic        expectations of other people.
O…Offer support and encouragement to others. Nobody succeeds on his or her own. I will be there for others when they need me.
M…Make every day count. My body may refuse to cooperate, but the strength of my mind and spirit       cannot be diminished or defeated. When I cannot do what I would ordinarily choose to do, I will choose to do something else.
Y…Yield to the symptoms of this disease as necessary without surrendering my life or myself. This disease       does not define me. My life is my own and nothing will diminish        my value as a person. I will guard the essence of myself.
A…Afford myself certain allowances. I will not pressure myself into performing non-essential functions when circumstances make them impossible. If they can't wait, I'll        ask for help. I will be my own best friend.
L…Laugh heartily and often. A light heart is easier to carry. I will carry only the burdens necessary and dispose of the rest.
G…Give thanks to God for the many blessings He has bestowed on me. And I will look for--and be grateful for--the hidden blessings of this disease. I will trust in God.
I…Invest my energy only in positive thoughts, positive actions, and positive people. Negativity depletes my reserves. I will use my energy in positive ways.
A…Accept that which I cannot change-but only that which I cannot change. I will not use this disease as an excuse for failure or for not making a real effort. I will not give up. I will not be a victim. I will survive.

© Jayde Dow....

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I am writing this to tell you a bit about me and my life, maybe it will help some to understand my world through my eyes… I am putting my heart on my sleeve here so please be gentle... I have emotions just like you do.... I am telling you this to help you realize that I do truly understand as I have been there and still am....... *UPDATED VERSION** December 2011

 I think I would be safe in saying that all of us have been through some form of pain throughout our years…… Whether it be physical, psychological, disabilities of many different proportions, disappointment, grief, loneliness and the list could go on and on.. However, everything that has happened to me has made me a stronger person!

My life began on the 20th day of June 1967. Unknown to me, I was about to embark on a journey like no other. Born 11 weeks prematurely I was left in the hospital where I was born, here in Perth, Western Australia. My biological parents did not want me, yet neither were they willing to give me up for adoption. So I was quickly placed under the ‘care and protection’ of the Department of Family and Children’s Services. I was an orphan, placed in an orphanage and I was to be a ‘foster child’……
I think I would be safe in saying that all of us have been through some form of pain throughout our years…… Whether it be physical, psychological, disabilities of many different proportions, disappointment, grief, loneliness and the list could go on and on.. However, everything that has happened to me has made me a stronger person!

I was very lucky and blessed at 22 months old to be put into a foster- home with beautiful parents. They are my parents in my eyes! Some children I met weren’t so lucky. I will be eternally grateful that I was so well loved and taken as their own child. I was not an only child but as I got older it seemed like I was……

                     Part of my story begins with constant unexplained illnesses from birth. I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital and nursed back to health by mum and dad. I have fought Lupus since birth, it is an autoimmune disease which has come very close to taking my life on numerous occasions. At the time it badly affected my respiratory system causing bronchial pneumonia. I did not find out until later that I had this disease and it would be expected to take my life by the age of 20, which was what I was told by the specialist who diagnosed the condition. I am thankful that that was not the case. So little was known about the illness, lots of questions but no answers…. All I knew was that I got sick very easily and a lot and had a lot of operations for problems over the years. I have had every part of my body, internally, which is not a vital organ removed for cancer and cysts….. I am grateful to have had such caring medical team to help me through…

For some reason, unknown to me, I have no memories of being younger than 10 years of age. I only know what I have been told by my family. I know that there has to be a reason for this but it has never really been important to me. Although there are times I wonder but I have so many beautiful years which I CAN remember!  They are the ones I hold close to me always… My mum and I travelled all over Australia together and enjoyed every minute of it. I helped my mum through nervous breakdowns and we got through it!! Unfortunately my mum passed away when I was 17 years of age, she was just 35. I know that there were better things meant for her!!

I have fought through sexual abuse from about 14 years of age. I felt I had no one to talk to, I had been threatened if I told I would be taken away from my family and I had no idea what to say anyway.. It was around this time which my mum was going through her nervous breakdowns and I couldn’t tell her about it because I though she might get sicker, so for right or for wrong I kept it to myself for many years.. That was my decision to make.
I went through more than my share of violent relationships, just as so many of us have. I have managed to come out the other side, maybe a little more ‘nervous’ than I would have otherwise have been but I got here!!!

                 I am 44 years of age and have had lupus since birth. I spent the best part of the first five years of my life in and out of hospital for respiratory problems including bronchial pneumonia. At the time lupus was not really known about and I was never tested for it.. I have suffered with mouth ulcers and coldsores all my life, they get so bad at times all I can do is drink through a straw and it still hurts my mouth.. With the lupus went my appetite so I have always had a battle with trying to gain weight. I have always been very underweight for my age and height when I was growing up. Even now I am underweight but that is due to the intolerance I have to foods, especially when I am in a flare. I drink subsitute drinks (hospital formula) to try not to lose too much weight. It is also due to multiple organ damage.

                My parents could never work out what was wrong with me as I always got very sick very easily. If there was a cold or flu going around I would get it and it would put me straight back in the hospital. It was then discovered by a blood specialist, who tested me for everything known to man, that I have lupus. There was not really a lot known about it when I was diagnosed with it. So it was just told to my parents that I would probably get sick quite a lot. I have had a lot of surgeries in my life and had everything that is not a vital organ removed. I am thankfully still in remission of cancer which I got at 25 years of age.

                I have had 3 miscarriages which my doctors put down to the lupus. I have since found out that they are a sign of lupus. I have three beautiful healthy boys whom I think the absolute world of and am thankful they are males, although lupus can affect males it is alot rarer. My daughter passed away at three months old from SIDS. I know there were better things meant for her.. RIP my Angel..

            I went through a period in my life where my lupus seemed to lie dormant for approximately ten years. It was not until I got Cancer that my lupus came out of remission also. The radiotherapy and chemotherapy did not help me, sure they put the cancer into remission but made my lupus worse, unfotunately. I have always found it hard to talk about myself  for the fear of people saying that I am feeling sorry for myself or want attention. Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who knows me knows all too well. I never want pity, just understanding, a a want to help other with these debilitating diseases..

                 Now my liver, pancreas, spleen, heart and brain are all affected to different degrees. My liver is constantly enlarged and I am on the urgent donor list, and have been for sometime now but dialysis and trasnfusions are helping me through most of the time.....and I have pancreatitis more often than not but I still try to stay as positive as I can.  That and pray a lot!!

                 I have just recently been told that I need a liver and pancreas transplant as having had lupus for so long, like any auto-immune disease, it wears down the organs over a period of time. I also need to have my right kidney removed and my spleen, however, that will not be done as I have too many organs affected by the lupus. I have only recently been told that I have been removed from the transplant list. I would be lying if I said this wasn't hard on me, emotionally and physically as the pain in my organs and muscles is always there..........  I am eternally grateful to my mum ( may she rest in peace) who passed away when she was only 35 years of age from undetected breast cancer, that she got me into the church and helped me through some extremely difficult and painful experiences, also with a lot of prayers.

                   I got fibro about 10 years or so ago, yes I ache all over at times and I hate the disease but for the most part I have learned to live with it, I am not making light of fibro because I know how very painful it is but to me the lupus is more painful. I don't know why I guess I am able to shut out the pain of the fibro better or something, I am not sure.. I also have rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative disc disease, spondylosis and polyarthryalgia, both affecting the spine. I have recently had a second spinal surgery and one a year ago. I have just recently had a third procedure done which has filed and I am now in more pain than I was before.. I have no option but to have surgery again in the New Year.. My spine is crumbling and the vertebrae are compressing the nerves, so I need further surgery to overcome this. A bone scan done approximately 12 months ago showed that I have the bones of an 80 year old woman. I am 44 yrs if age...

               I have now also been diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).. My respiratory system is not coping with things too well

                                                  Of course there is more to my story but this is what I wish to share with you for now.

                  I am a very positive person and look for the good in everything, and if I can't find it then I just look deeper. However, I am no stranger to the depression we go through and have my moments.......Thank you for reading this.  I find that the group I started has helpedme in so many different ways, it has also helped me to bring out things that would have otherwise have stayed 'locked-up' inside of me...... I love people and love being here on Facebook as it is the only real friends I have due to my illnesses.... Many people find it too hard to cope with illness which is why I started this group, so that people would have a 'safe place' to be able to speak of their feelings etc without fear of retribution, or being told they are complaining......I truly appreciate your friendship,. I hope I am able to help you too

With love, hugs and blessings Jayde

Friday, December 16, 2011


My beautiful prayer Angel,
I love you for what you do,
Praying for all
Is a special thing that we do

In my heart and in my thoughts
You are so special to me
The prayers that we share
Hoping for them to come true

In God's hands we put our faith
Always praying for all to be safe
Thankful that you always hear
The prayer requests we make

Sometimes things don't always
Go the way we planned
We always pray they will
But it is not always God's plan

Thank you Prayer Angel
Know my prayers are with you
In everything you say and do
I pray that all of your dreams and wishes come true

THANK YOU to all those who pray for others!!!

© Jayde Dow....
~Angel of Hope~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Cancer: Questions and Answers

Key Points
The survival rate for many types of cancer has improved in recent years; however, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the United States
Cancer occurs when cells continue to grow and divide and do not die when they should. Cancer cells can damage or destroy nearby tissues and can metastasize (spread) to distant parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system
Cancer is the result of changes in the genes that control normal cell growth and death. These changes may be inherited, or may result from environmental or lifestyle factors
People can reduce their risk of cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Also, screening exams can detect some precancerous conditions and early-stage cancer
Cancer can cause a variety of symptoms.
Cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormones, and/or biological therapy
Clinical trials (research studies with people) are an option for people interested in prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer .
About 1.4 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2005, and more than 550,000 people will die of the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in this country. However, improvements in cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment have increased the survival rate for many types of cancer. About 64 percent of all people diagnosed with cancer will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.

What is cancer?
Cancer is a group of many related diseases that begin in cells, the body's basic building blocks. To understand cancer, it is helpful to know what happens when normal cells become cancerous.

The body is made up of many types of cells. Normally, cells grow and divide to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. Sometimes, this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. The extra cells form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Not all tumors are cancerous; tumors can be benign or malignant.

Benign tumors are not cancer. They can often be removed and, in most cases, they do not come back. Cells in benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Most important, benign tumors are rarely a threat to life.

Malignant tumors are cancer. Cells in malignant tumors are abnormal and divide without control or order. Cancer cells invade and destroy the tissue around them. Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Blood vessels include a network of arteries, capillaries, and veins through which the blood circulates in the body. The lymphatic system carries lymph and white blood cells through lymphatic vessels (thin tubes) to all the tissues of the body. By moving through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, cancer can spread from the primary (original) cancer site to form new tumors in other organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

What causes cancer?
Scientists have learned that cancer is caused by changes in genes that normally control the growth and death of cells. Certain lifestyle and environmental factors can change some normal genes into genes that allow the growth of cancer. Many gene changes that lead to cancer are the result of tobacco use, diet, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, or exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) in the workplace or in the environment. Some gene alterations are inherited (from one or both parents). However, having an inherited gene alteration does not always mean that the person will develop cancer; it only means that the chance of getting cancer is increased. Scientists continue to examine the factors that may increase or decrease a person's chance of developing cancer.

Although being infected with certain viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and C (HepB and HepC), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), increases the risk of some types of cancer, cancer itself is not contagious. A person cannot catch cancer from someone who has this disease. Scientists also know that an injury or bruise does not cause cancer.

Can cancer be prevented?
Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, people can reduce their risk (chance) of developing cancer by:

not using tobacco products
choosing foods with less fat and eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
exercising regularly and maintaining a lean weight
avoiding the harmful rays of the sun, using sunscreen, and wearing clothing that protects the skin
talking with a doctor about the possible benefits of drugs proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers
Although many risk factors can be avoided, some, such as inherited conditions, are unavoidable. Still, it is helpful to be aware of them. It is also important to keep in mind that not everyone with a particular risk factor for cancer actually gets the disease; in fact, most do not. People who have an increased likelihood of developing cancer can help protect themselves by avoiding risk factors (see Question 2) whenever possible and by getting regular checkups so that, if cancer develops, it is likely to be found and treated early. Treatment is often more effective when cancer is detected early. Screening exams, such as sigmoidoscopy or the fecal occult blood test, mammography, and the Pap test, can detect precancerous conditions (which can be treated before they turn into cancer) and early-stage cancer.

The NCI is conducting many cancer prevention studies to explore ways to reduce the risk of developing cancer. These studies are evaluating dietary supplements, chemopreventive agents, nutrition, personal behaviors, and other factors that may prevent cancer. More information about cancer prevention trials is available in the following NCI resources:

Breast Cancer Prevention Studies
Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT): Questions and Answers
The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR): Questions and Answers
See Question 6 for additional information about clinical trials related to the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

What are some of the common signs and symptoms of cancer?
Cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Possible signs of cancer include the following:

new thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body
new mole or an obvious change in the appearance of an existing wart or mole
a sore that does not heal
nagging cough or hoarseness
changes in bowel or bladder habits
persistent indigestion or difficulty swallowing
unexplained changes in weight
unusual bleeding or discharge
When these or other symptoms occur, they are not always caused by cancer. They can be caused by infections, benign tumors, or other problems. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms or about other physical changes. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis. A person with these or other symptoms should not wait to feel pain because early cancer usually does not cause pain.

If symptoms occur, the doctor may perform a physical examination, order blood work and other tests, and/or recommend a biopsy. In most cases, a biopsy is the only way to know for certain whether cancer is present. During a biopsy, the doctor removes a sample of tissue from the abnormal area. A pathologist studies the tissue under a microscope to identify cancer cells.

How is cancer treated?
Cancer treatment can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy. The doctor may use one method or a combination of methods, depending on the type and location of the cancer, whether the disease has spread, the patient's age and general health, and other factors. Because treatment for cancer can also damage healthy cells and tissues, it often causes side effects. Some patients may worry that the side effects of treatment are worse than the disease. However, patients and doctors generally discuss the treatment options, weighing the likely benefits of killing cancer cells and the risks of possible side effects. Doctors can suggest ways to reduce or eliminate problems that may occur during and after treatment.

Surgery is an operation to remove cancer. The side effects of surgery depend on many factors, including the size and location of the tumor, the type of operation, and the patient's general health. Patients have some pain after surgery, but this pain can be controlled with medicine. It is also common for patients to feel tired or weak for a while after surgery.

Patients may worry that having a biopsy or other type of surgery for cancer will spread the disease. This is a very rare occurrence because surgeons take special precautions to prevent cancer from spreading during surgery. Also, exposing cancer to air during surgery does not cause the disease to spread.

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a targeted area. Radiation can be given externally by a machine that aims radiation at the tumor area. It can also be given internally; needles, seeds, wires, or catheters containing a radioactive substance are placed directly in or near the tumor. Radiation treatments are painless. The side effects are usually temporary, and most can be treated or controlled. Patients are likely to feel very tired, especially in the later weeks of treatment. Radiation therapy may also cause a decrease in the number of white blood cells, which help protect the body against infection. With external radiation, it is also common to have temporary hair loss in the treated area and for the skin to become red, dry, tender, and itchy.

There is no risk of radiation exposure from coming in contact with a patient undergoing external radiation therapy. External radiation does not cause the body to become radioactive. With internal radiation (also called implant radiation), a patient may need to stay in the hospital, away from other people, while the radiation level is highest. Implants may be permanent or temporary. The amount of radiation in a permanent implant goes down to a safe level before the person leaves the hospital. With a temporary implant, there is no radioactivity left in the body after the implant is removed.

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that kill cancer cells throughout the body. Healthy cells can also be harmed, especially those that divide quickly. The doctor may use one drug or a combination of drugs. The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the drug(s) and the dose(s) the patient receives. Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy; however, not all anticancer drugs cause loss of hair. Anticancer drugs may also cause temporary fatigue, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth and lip sores. Drugs that prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting can help with some of these side effects. Normal cells usually recover when chemotherapy is over, so most side effects gradually go away after treatment ends.

Hormone therapy is used to treat certain cancers that depend on hormones for their growth. It works by keeping cancer cells from getting or using the hormones they need to grow. This treatment may include the use of drugs that stop the production of certain hormones or that change the way hormones work. Another type of hormone therapy is surgery to remove organs that make hormones. For example, the ovaries may be removed to treat breast cancer, or the testicles may be removed to treat prostate cancer.

Hormone therapy can cause a number of side effects. Patients may feel tired, or have fluid retention, weight gain, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting, changes in appetite, and, in some cases, blood clots. Hormone therapy may also cause bone loss in premenopausal women. Depending on the type of hormone therapy used, these side effects may be temporary, long lasting, or permanent.

Biological therapy uses the body's immune system, directly or indirectly, to fight disease and to lessen some of the side effects of cancer treatment. Monoclonal antibodies, interferon, interleukin-2, and colony-stimulating factors are some types of biological therapy.

The side effects caused by biological therapy vary with the specific treatment. In general, these treatments tend to cause flu-like symptoms, such as chills, fever, muscle aches, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Patients also may bleed or bruise easily, get a skin rash, or have swelling. These problems can be severe, but they go away after the treatment stops.

Are clinical trials (research studies) available? Where can people get more information about clinical trials?
Yes. Clinical trials are an important treatment option for many cancer patients. To develop new, more effective treatments, and better ways to use current treatments, the NCI is sponsoring clinical trials in many hospitals and cancer centers around the country. Clinical trials are a critical step in the development of new methods of treatment. Before any new treatment can be recommended for general use, doctors conduct clinical trials to find out whether the treatment is safe for patients and effective against the disease.

People interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS) (see below) at 1–800–4–CANCER and in the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies, which is available at on the Internet. This booklet describes how research studies are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks. Further information about clinical trials is available at on the NCI's Web site. The Web site offers detailed information about specific ongoing treatment trials as well as trials focused on prevention, screening, and diagnosis by linking to PDQ®, the NCI's comprehensive cancer information database. The CIS also provides information from PDQ.

Does cancer always cause pain?
Having cancer does not always mean having pain. Whether a patient has pain may depend on the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, and the patient's tolerance for pain. Most pain occurs when the cancer grows and presses against bones, organs, or nerves. Pain may also be a side effect of treatment. However, pain can generally be relieved or reduced with prescription medicines or over-the-counter drugs recommended by the doctor. Other ways to reduce pain, such as relaxation exercises, may also be useful. Pain should not be accepted as an unavoidable part of having cancer. It is important for patients to talk about pain so steps can be taken to help relieve it. The fear of addiction or “losing control” should not stop patients from taking pain medication. Patients who take medications for cancer pain, as prescribed by their doctor, rarely become addicted to them. In addition, changing the dose or type of medication can usually help if the patient has troublesome side effects.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Asparagus -- Who Knew?

               My Mom had been taking the full-stalk canned style
               Asparagus that she pureed and she took 4 tablespoons in
               The morning and 4 tablespoons later in the day. She did
               This for over a month. She is on chemo pills for Stage 3
               Lung cancer in the pleural area and her cancer cell
               Count went from 386 down to 125 as of this past week.
               Her oncologist said she does not need to see him for 3

               THE ARTICLE:
              Several years ago, I had a man seeking asparagus for a
               Friend who had cancer. He gave me a photocopied copy of
               An article, entitled, Asparagus for cancer 'printed in
               Cancer News Journal, December 1979. I will share it
               Here, just as it was shared with me: I am a biochemist,
               And have specialized in the relation of diet to health
               For over 50 years. Several years ago, I learned of the
               Discovery of Richard R. Vensal, D.D.S. That asparagus
               Might cure cancer. Since then, I have worked with him on
               His project.  We have accumulated a number of favorable
               Case histories. Here are a few examples:

               Case No. 1, A man with an almost hopeless case of
               Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was
               Completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the
               Asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any
               Signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of
               Strenuous exercise.

               Case No. 2, a successful businessman 68 years old who
               Suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After
               Years of medical treatments, including radiation without
               Improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months,
               Examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had
               Disappeared and that his kidneys were normal.

               Case No. 3, a man who had lung cancer. On March 5th
               1971, he was put on the operating table where they found
               Lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The
               Surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On
               April 5th he heard about the Asparagus therapy and
               Immediately started taking it By August, x-ray pictures
               Revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared..
               He is back at his regular business routine.

               Case No. 4, a woman who was troubled for a number of
               Years with skin cancer. She finally developed different
               Skin cancers which were diagnosed by the acting
               Specialist as advanced. Within 3 months after starting
               On asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin
               Looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman
               Reported that the asparagus therapy also cured her
               Kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10
               Operations for kidney stones, and was receiving
               Government disability payments for an inoperable,
               Terminal, kidney condition. She attributes the cure of
               This kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus.

               I was not surprised at this result, as `The elements of
               Material medica', edited in 1854 by a Professor at the
                University of Pennsylvania , stated that asparagus was
               Used as a popular remedy for kidney stones. He even
               Referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of
               Asparagus in dissolving stones. Note the dates!
               We would have other case histories but the medical
               Establishment has interfered with our obtaining some of
               The records. I am therefore appealing to readers to
               Spread this good news and help us to gather a large
               Number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical
               Skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy.

               For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before
               Using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as
               Fresh. I have corresponded with the two leading canners
               Of asparagus, Giant and Stokely, and I am satisfied that
               These brands contain no pesticides or preservatives.
               Place the cooked asparagus in a blender and liquefy to
               Make a puree, and store in the refrigerator. Give the
               Patient 4 full tablespoons twice daily, morning and
               Evening. Patients usually show some improvement in from
               2-4 weeks. It can be diluted with water and used as a
               Cold or hot drink. This suggested dosage is based on
               Present experience, but certainly larger amounts can do
               No harm and may be needed in some cases. As a biochemist
               I am convinced of the old saying that `what cures can
               Prevent.' Based on this theory, my wife and I have been
               Using asparagus puree as a beverage with our meals. We
               Take 2 tablespoons diluted in water to suit our taste
               With breakfast and with dinner. I take mine hot and my
               Wife prefers hers cold. For years we have made it a
               Practice to have blood surveys taken as part of our
               Regular checkups. The last blood survey, taken by a
               Medical doctor who specializes in the nutritional
               Approach to health, showed substantial improvements in
               all categories over the last one, and we can attribute
               these improvements to nothing but the asparagus drink.
               As a biochemist, I have made an extensive study of all
               aspects of cancer, and all of the proposed cures. As a
               result, I am convinced that asparagus fits in better
               with the latest theories about cancer.

                Asparagus contains a good supply of protein called
               histones, which are believed to be active in controlling
               cell growth.. For that reason, I believe asparagus can
                be said to contain a substance that I call cell growth
               normalizer. That accounts for its action on cancer and
               in acting as a general body tonic. In any event,
               regardless of theory, asparagus used as we suggest, is a
               harmless substance. The FDA cannot prevent you from
               using it and it may do you much good. It has been
               reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that
               asparagus is the highest tested food containing
               glutathione, which is considered one of the body's most
               potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants.

               Please share this article......
                The most unselfish act one can ever do is paying forward
               all the kindness one has received, even to the most undeserved  person


Alternative Therapies for Fibromyalgia
WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
At some point during your fibromyalgia treatment, you may decide to try a complementary or alternative fibromyalgia treatment. Herbal remedies and dietary supplements are some of the many complementary and alternative treatments people use to relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Herbs and supplements as fibromyalgia treatments may not work for everyone, although some people find them very effective. If you decide to try an herb or supplement as a fibromyalgia treatment, be sure to talk with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you. Even though they're often labeled as "natural" products, herbs and supplements can cause serious side effects and interact with other drugs you may already be taking. Unlike drugs, herbs and supplements don’t have to receive FDA approval for safety or effectiveness before they can be sold.  In addition to talking with your doctor, it’s important to learn as much as you can about any alternative therapy before using one.

Although studies about the effectiveness of herbs and supplements are limited and overall evidence has been inconclusive, researchers are beginning to research them more. Some small studies have been promising, but many study results have been mixed.

Research is ongoing, but here are just a few of the herbs and supplements that may be helpful in treating fibromyalgia symptoms:

Anthocyanidin. This supplement is a type of flavonoid found in red-blue fruits like red cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and purple grapes that has been used to treat other types of chronic diseases. In one small study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found that anthocyanidins helped improve participants’ quality of sleep. Researchers found no improvement in the patients’ pain or fatigue. The side effects were minor, but included nausea, indigestion, and nasal congestion.

Capsaicin. Capsaicin is an extract of chili peppers that is applied to the skin in a cream. In a small study, capsaicin was found to significantly relieve tenderness in patients with fibromyalgia. However, it didn’t help improve pain or quality of sleep. The only side effect was a slight stinging or burning on the skin.

Magnesium and malic acid supplements. Some studies have found that people who have fibromyalgia have too little of a substance called ATP in their body. ATP is a substance that helps provide energy to your body and muscles. Some researchers believe a lack of ATP may cause the muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia. Because magnesium and malic acid help the body produce ATP, taking these supplements may help increase ATP levels and decrease pain.

SAM-e (S-Anenosylmethionine). SAM-e is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It has been studied in many clinical trials over the past 20 years in patients who have joint pain and osteoarthritis. These studies have found that SAM-e may be as effective in relieving pain as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. SAM-e is used as a drug in Europe, where many of these studies have been done. One U.S. study in patients with osteoarthritis found that SAM-e reduced pain and improved joint function as effectively as Celebrex, a type of NSAID. In addition, new research has found that SAM-e may also help reduce the symptoms of depression, another common fibromyalgia symptom. SAM-e may interact with some medications for depression, so be sure to talk with your doctor about drug interactions before trying it. Other reported side effects include upset stomach and dizziness.

St. John’s wort. This herb may not help with your fibromyalgia pain, but it may help ease the depression that many people with fibromyalgia experience. Studies have shown that St. John’s wort may help improve mood and reduce the insomnia and anxiety common to depression. Some studies have found St. John’s wort as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressant drugs. However, it may not be as effective in treating more severe depression. St. John’s wort can interact with many other medications, so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before using it.

Valerian. Some researchers believe valerian root may help with sleep and ease fibromyalgia pain. One small study showed that people who took valerian for 28 days reported better sleep and an improvement in their general quality of life.

Vitamin D supplements. Well-known for supporting bone strength and bone health, vitamin D is also being studied for its use in treating other conditions, including fibromyalgia. Some small studies showed that people with fibromyalgia were more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Other studies have shown that there is no connection. Vitamin D is generally safe in recommended amounts for most people and rarely causes side effects when taken in recommended amounts.



Do you toss and turn at night because of fibromyalgia pain or discomfort?
Research shows that with fibromyalgia, there is an automatic arousal in the brain during sleep..
Frequent disruptions prevent the important restorative processes from occurring. Growth hormone is mostly produced during sleep.

 Without restorative sleep and the surge of growth hormone, muscles don’t heal and neurotransmitters (like the mood chemical serotonin) are not replenished.
   The result:
The body can't recuperate from the day's stresses -- all of which overwhelms the system, creating a great sensitivity to pain. Widespread pain, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and memory difficulties are all symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Insomnia takes many forms -- trouble falling asleep, waking up often during the night, having trouble going back to sleep, and waking up too early in the morning. Smoothing out those sleep problems -- and helping people get the deep sleep their bodies need -- helps fibromyalgia pain improve significantly, research shows.
Tips to Get Better Sleep With Fibromyalgia
Creating a comfort zone at home is key to better sleep, whether you have fibromyalgia or not. It's all about easing into bedtime feeling relaxed -- and staying relaxed so you sleep through the night.
These 10 tips can help people sleep better:

  1.    Enjoy a soothing (warm) bath in the evening.
  2.   Brush your body with a loofah or long-handled brush in the bath.
  3.   Ease painful tender points with a self-massage device (like a tennis ball).
  4.   Do yoga and stretching exercises to relax.
  5.   Listen to calming music.
  6.   Meditate to tame intrusive thoughts and tension.
  7.   Sleep in a darkened room. Try an eye mask if necessary.
  8.  Keep the room as quiet as possible (or use a white-noise machine).
  9.  Make sure the room temperature is comfortable.
  10. Avoid foods that contain caffeine, including teas, colas, and chocolate.

Therapies to Treat Insomnia When You Have Fibromyalgia

If you're still having sleep problems, several therapies can help, including biofeedback, relaxation training, stress reduction, and cognitive therapy. A psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders can discuss these therapies with you.

The therapies help people handle stress better, which helps control fibromyalgia episodes, Cope says. "Fibromyalgia comes and goes," she tells WebMD. "When you're stressed out, that's when it's worse." That's when you're most likely to have insomnia, too.

Medications can also help ease fibromyalgia pain at night, or directly treat insomnia. Medications to ease pain and improve sleep in those with fibromyalgia symptoms include certain types of antidepressants, anticonvulsants, prescription pain relievers, and sleep aids.

No one therapy will control fibromyalgia pain 100%, Cope adds.

"Medications help some. Exercise helps some. Stress reduction helps some. Cognitive behavior therapy helps some... If you can get restful sleep, you're going to function better when you're awake."


Prescription Painkiller Addiction: 7 Myths
Experts Debunk Myths About Prescription Pain Medication Addiction

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Prescription pain medicine addiction grabs headlines when it sends celebrities spinning out of control. It also plagues many people out of the spotlight who grapple with painkiller addiction behind closed doors.

But although widespread, addiction to prescription painkillers is also widely misunderstood -- and those misunderstandings can be dangerous and frightening for patients dealing with pain.

Where is the line between appropriate use and addiction to prescription pain medicines? And how can patients stay on the right side of that line, without suffering needlessly?

For answers, WebMD spoke with two pain medicine doctors, an expert from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and a psychiatrist who treats addictions.

Here are seven myths they identified about addiction to prescription pain medication.

1. Myth: If I need higher doses or have withdrawal symptoms when I quit, I'm addicted.

Reality: That might sound like addiction to you, but it's not how doctors and addiction specialists define addiction.

"Everybody can become tolerant and dependent to a medication, and that does not mean that they are addicted," says Christopher Gharibo, MD, director of pain medicine at the NYU Langone Medical School and NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Tolerance and dependence don't just happen with prescription pain drugs, notes Scott Fishman, MD, professor of anesthesiology and chief of the division of pain medicine at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.

"They occur in drugs that aren't addictive at all, and they occur in drugs that are addictive. So it's independent of addiction," says Fishman, who is the president and chairman of the American Pain Foundation and a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medication.

Many people mistakenly use the term "addiction" to refer to physical dependence. That includes doctors. "Probably not a week goes by that I don't hear from a doctor who wants me to see their patient because they think they're addicted, but really they're just physically dependent," Fishman says.

Fishman defines addiction as a "chronic disease ... that's typically defined by causing the compulsive use of a drug that produces harm or dysfunction, and the continued use despite that dysfunction."

For instance, someone who's addicted might have symptoms such as "having drugs interfere with your ability to function in your role [or] spending most of your time trying to procure a drug and take the drug," says Susan Weiss, PhD, chief of the science policy branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"Physical dependence, which can include tolerance and withdrawal, is different," says Weiss. "It's a part of addiction but it can happen without someone being addicted."

She adds that if people have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking their painkiller, "it means that they need to be under a doctor's care to stop taking the drugs, but not necessarily that they're addicted."

2. Myth: Everyone gets addicted to pain drugs if they take them long enough.

Reality: "The vast majority of people, when prescribed these medications, use them correctly without developing addiction," says Marvin Seppala, MD, chief medical officer at the Hazelden Foundation, an addiction treatment center in Center City, Minn.

Fishman agrees. "In a program where these prescription drugs are used with responsible management, the signs of addiction or abuse would become evident over time and therefore would be acted on," says Fishman.

Some warning signs, according to Seppala, could include raising your dose without consulting your doctor, or going to several doctors to get prescriptions without telling them about the prescriptions you already have. And as Weiss points out, being addicted means that your drug use is causing problems in your life but you keep doing it anyway.

But trying to diagnose early signs of addiction in yourself or a loved one can be tricky.

"Unless you really find out what's going on, you'd be surprised by the individual facts behind any patient's behavior. And again, at the end of the day, we're here to treat suffering," says Fishman.

Likewise, Weiss says it can be "very, very hard" to identify patients who are becoming addicted.

"When it comes to people who don't have chronic pain and they're addicted, it's more straightforward because they're using some of these drugs as party drugs, things like that and the criteria for addiction are pretty clear," says Weiss.

"I think where it gets really complicated is when you've got somebody that's in chronic pain and they wind up needing higher and higher doses, and you don't know if this is a sign that they're developing problems of addiction because something is really happening in their brain that's ... getting them more compulsively involved in taking the drug, or if their pain is getting worse because their disease is getting worse, or because they're developing tolerance to the painkiller," Weiss says.

"We know that drugs have risk, and what we're good at in medicine is recognizing risk and managing it, as long as we're willing to rise to that occasion," says Fishman. "The key is that one has to manage the risks."

3. Myth: Because most people don't get addicted to painkillers, I can use them as I please.

Reality: You need to use prescription painkillers (and any other drug) properly. It's not something patients should tinker with themselves.

"They definitely have an addiction potential," says Gharibo. His advice: Use prescription pain medicines as prescribed by your doctor and report your responses -- positive and negative -- to your doctor.

Gharibo also says that he doesn't encourage using opioids alone, but as part of a plan that also includes other treatment -- including other types of drugs, as well as physical therapy and psychotherapy, when needed.

Gharibo says he tells patients about drugs' risks and benefits, and if he thinks an opioid is appropriate for the patient, he prescribes it on a trial basis to see how the patient responds.

And although you may find that you need a higher dose, you shouldn't take matters into your own hands. Overdosing is a risk, so setting your dose isn't a do-it-yourself task.

"I think the escalation of the dosage is key," says Seppala. "If people find that they just keep adding to the dose, whether it's legitimate for pain or not, it's worth taking a look at what's going on, especially if they're not talking with the caregiver as they do that."

4. Myth: It's better to bear the pain than to risk addiction.

Reality: Undertreating pain can cause needless suffering. If you have pain, talk to your doctor about it, and if you're afraid about addiction, talk with them about that, too.

"People have a right to have their pain addressed," says Fishman. "When someone's in pain, there's no risk-free option, including doing nothing."

Fishman remembers a man who came to his emergency room with pain from prostate cancer that had spread throughout his body. "He was on no pain medicine at all," Fishman recalls.

Fishman wrote the man a prescription for morphine, and the next day, the man was out golfing. "But a week later, he was back in the emergency room with pain out of control," says Fishman. "He stopped taking his morphine because he thought anyone who took morphine for more than a week was an addict. And he was afraid that he was going to start robbing liquor stores and stealing lottery tickets. So these are very pervasive beliefs."

Weiss, who has seen her mother-in-law resist taking opioids to treat chronic pain, notes that some people suffer pain because they fear addiction, while others are too casual about using painkillers.

"We don't want to make people afraid of taking a medication that they need," says Weiss. "At the same time, we want people to take these drugs seriously."

5. Myth: All that matters is easing my pain.

Reality: Pain relief is key, but it's not the only goal.

5. Myth: All that matters is easing my pain. continued...

"We're focusing on functional restoration when we prescribe analgesics or any intervention to control the patient's pain," says Gharibo.

He explains that functional restoration means "being autonomous, being able to attend to their activities of daily living, as well as forming friendships and an appropriate social environment."

In other words, pain relief isn't enough.

"If there is pain reduction without improved function, that may not be sufficient to continue opioid pharmacotherapy," says Gharibo. "If we're faced with a situation where we continue to increase the doses and we're not getting any functional improvement, we're not just going to go up and up on the dose. We're going to change the plan."

6. Myth: I'm a strong person. I won't get addicted.

Reality: Addiction isn't about willpower, and it's not a moral failure. It's a chronic disease, and some people are genetically more vulnerable than others, notes Fishman.

"The main risk factor for addiction is genetic predisposition," Seppala agrees. "Do you have a family history of alcohol or addiction? Or do you have a history yourself and now you're in recovery from that? That genetic history would potentially place you at higher risk of addiction for any substance, and in particular, you should be careful using the opioids for any length of time."

Seppala says prescription painkiller abuse was "rare" when his career began, but is now second only to marijuana in terms of illicit use.

Exactly how many people are addicted to prescription painkillers isn't clear. But 1.7 million people age 12 and older in the U.S. abused or were addicted to pain relievers in 2007, according to government data.

And in a 2007 government survey, about 57% of people who reported taking pain relievers for "nonmedical" uses in the previous month said they'd gotten pain pills for free from someone they knew; only 18% said they'd gotten it from a doctor.

Don't share prescription pain pills and don't leave them somewhere that people could help themselves. "These are not something that you should hand out to your friends or relatives or leave around so that people can take a few from you without your even noticing it," says Weiss.

7. Myth: My doctor will steer me clear of addiction.

Reality: Doctors certainly don't want their patients to get addicted. But they may not have much training in addiction, or in pain management.

Most doctors don't get much training in either topic, says Seppala. "We've got a naive physician population providing pain care and not knowing much about addiction. That's a bad combination."

Fishman agrees and urges patients to educate themselves about their prescriptions and to work with their doctors. "The best relationships are the ones where you're partnering with your clinicians and exchanging ideas."

Saturday, December 10, 2011


10 Basic Facts Most People Don't Know About Arthritis
Do You Know These Arthritis Basics?
By Carol Eustice

1) Arthritis Is Not a Single Disease

There are over 100 types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases, with a handful being the most prevalent.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

2) Anyone Can Develop Arthritis - Even Children

One of the greatest misconceptions about arthritis is that it is only a disease of the elderly. Not true! Actually, about two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65. Anyone can develop arthritis -- even children. According to the CDC, 1 in every 250 children are affected by some type of arthritis or rheumatic condition.

3) Arthritis Is More Common Among Women Than Men

Statistics indicate that across every age group, more women develop arthritis than men (24.4% vs. 18.1% respectively).

4) Arthritis Is the Nation's Leading Cause of Disability

According to the CDC, each year approximately 19 million U.S. adults report that they have activity limitations due to arthritis. Of all working age adults (ages 18-64), about 1 in 20 report that they have arthritis that limits their work.

5) Arthritis Leads to Physical Inactivity, Which Is a Risk Factor for Other Diseases

Arthritis symptoms, such as pain, limited range of motion, and fatigue, discourage physical activity. Some patients fear increased pain, worsening symptoms, and even joint damage from exercise and physical activity. But there may be a consequence -- physical inactivity is a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

6) There Is Typically No Cure for Arthritis, But It Can Be Well-Managed

People with arthritis often take medications to help control their symptoms -- but for most patients, there is no cure.

To manage arthritis, lifestyle modifications are also important. You should stop smoking if you are a smoker, maintain a healthy weight, protect your joints, exercise and participate in regular physical activity, remain compliant with your treatment regimen, and consider a self-management program to help improve your quality of life with arthritis. Until there is a cure, the goal must be to live well with arthritis.

7) Early Diagnosis and Appropriate Treatment Are Essential to Managing Arthritis

When you experience the first symptoms of arthritis, you likely won't even know what's wrong. You will be hoping it just goes away. But it's very important to be evaluated by your doctor if symptoms persist. You need to be properly diagnosed and start treatment early in the course of the disease.

8) A Rheumatologist Is a Specialist in Arthritis and Related Conditions

Typically, patients who are experiencing early signs of arthritis consult with their primary care physician or family physician. That's appropriate for the first round of diagnostic testing. However, you may be referred to a rheumatologist for more in-depth evaluation and ongoing care.

9) Certain Types of Arthritis Have Systemic Effects

The most common arthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in or around the affected joint. There are some types of arthritis, classified as autoimmune and inflammatory (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis and lupus), that may affect many parts of the body, not just the joints. These are called systemic effects.

10) Arthritis Is Highly Prevalent

The CDC estimates that 46 million American adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. It has been projected that as the population ages, the number of people with doctor-diagnosed arthritis will soar to 67 million by the year 2030.


What are antidepressants and why are they involved in lupus treatment? Also used a lot in Fibro patients and others fighting any illnesses.....

Anti-depressant medications are used to treat clinical depression or pain. Depression and anxiety are present in almost half of all people who have lupus and can be caused by the disease itself, by medications used to treat the disease, or by inadequate coping mechanisms. Clinical depression is different than the passing pangs of sadness that can haunt all of us from time to time. Rather, clinical depression is a prolonged, unpleasant, and disabling condition. The hallmark characteristics of depression are feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, general sadness, and a loss of interest in daily activities. Depression also often involves crying spells, changes in appetite, nonrestful sleep, loss of self-esteem, inability to concentrate, decreased interest in the outside world, memory problems, and indecision. In addition, people who are depressed may suffer from certain physiologic signs, such as headache, palpitations, loss of sexual drive, indigestion, and cramping. Patients are considered to be clinically depressed when they experience symptoms that last for several weeks and are enough to disrupt their daily lives. Lupus patients suffering from depression also often experience a general slowing and clouding of mental functions, such as memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities; this phenomenon is sometimes described as a “fog.”

Some people think that people with chronic illnesses like lupus feel sad or depressed because they are sick. This notion can cause physicians and loved ones to dismiss or overlook clinical depression in people with lupus. While clinical depression can be caused by the emotional drain of coping with a chronic medical condition and the sacrifices and adjustments that are required of the disease, it can also be induced by steroid medications (e.g., prednisone), lupus involvement of certain organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys, and other physiological factors. It is important that you speak with your doctor if you feel you are experiencing clinical depression, because many people who are physically ill respond well to anti-depressant medications. In addition, your doctor may treat your depression in different ways depending on the cause.

How do antidepressants work?

Most antidepressants work by slowing the removal of certain chemicals—neurotransmitters—from the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages between neurons (nerve cells in the brain) and are important in the normal functioning of your brain. However, an imbalance in the amount of a certain neurotransmitter can cause a slowing of communication between neurons, and your normal feelings, emotions, or thoughts may become impaired. Antidepressants help people by making certain neurotransmitters associated with depression (specifically, dopamine, norepinephrine/noradrenaline, and/or serotonin) more available to the brain. The availability of more of a certain neurotransmitter means that more of this chemical will reach is target neuron, increasing communication and connectivity (neurotransmission) between the nerve cells in your brain and thus reducing certain symptoms of depression.

 What kinds of medications are categorized as antidepressants?

Anti-depressant medications include four main kinds of drugs—tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and lithium. Other types of medications are also used, including venlafaxine (Effexor), bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), mirtazapine (Remeron), and trazodone (Desyrel). Anti-anxiety medications and/or hypnotics (for insomnia) may be recommended in addition to antidepressants to help combat certain symptoms, and several combination therapies are also available.

How well do antidepressants work?

Six out of 10 people will feel better with the first antidepressant they try; however, the other 4 people will need to try another antidepressant until they find the one that is right for them. In addition, most people will need to take an antidepressant regularly for at least 6 weeks until they feel the full effect. You may also need to keep taking them for longer periods of time, even for the rest of your life.

 What should I keep in mind while taking antidepressants?

Antidepressants can cause side effects that may mimic or intensify certain lupus symptoms. For example, antidepressants may cause an increase in the drying of mucous membranes, which could further aggravate symptoms in people with Sjogren’s syndrome (dry eye/dry mouth syndrome). In addition, antidepressants have been associated in rare cases among the general population (both non-lupus and lupus patients) with worsening of feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts. This side effect is especially prevalent early in treatment, during an alteration of dosage, or in people under 25. If you feel you are experiencing this effect, contact your doctor. You may need to stop the medication if symptoms worsen. However, you should not stop taking your medication without first speaking with your doctor. While most antidepressants are considered to be nonaddictive, suddenly stopping your treatment or missing doses can cause feelings of withdrawal, a phenomenon called discontinuation syndrome. Symptoms of this condition include nausea, headache, dizziness, lethargy, and flu-like symptoms. If you feel you should stop taking antidepressants, work with your doctor to slowly decrease your dose before you stop.

Types of Antidepressants
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
Amoxapine (Asendin, Defanyl, Demolox, Moxadil)
Clomipramine (Anafranil)
Desipramine (Norpramin)
Doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan)
Imipramine (Tofranil, Janimine)
Maprotiline (Ludiomil)
Nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)
Protriptyline (Vivactil)
Trimipramine (Surmontil)

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have been on the market since the 1960s. These drugs were the most commonly prescribed antidepressants until the late-1980s, when selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were introduced. TCAs work by inhibiting the reabsorption (or, reuptake) of three neurotransmitters in the brain that can affect mood and behavior, namely serotonin, norepinephrine, and, to a lesser extent, dopamine. Tricyclic antidepressants are named for their chemical structure, which contains three rings of atoms.

Nowadays, TCAs are used mainly in very low doses at night to help with pain and to restore natural sleep patterns. TCAs work as an analgesic (pain reliever) for many neuropathic pain syndromes (pain resulting from disturbances in your nervous system). They can also help people with problems sleeping—including those with fibromyalgia, a syndrome that causes fatigue, generalized weakness, and pain amplification—to regain normal sleep regimens.

TCAs are less selective than other antidepressant medications in the cells that they affect. For example, TCAs also block certain cell receptors in your brain, which can cause certain side effects. The potential side effects of TCAs include drowsiness, dry mouth, changes in appetite, impaired thinking or confusion, blurred vision, constipation, water retention, dizziness, impaired sexual function, increased heart rate, headache, low blood pressure, sensitivity to sunlight, weight gain, nausea, and weakness.

People with narrow-angle glaucoma or an enlarged prostate should avoid TCAs, and those with a history of seizures or thyroid problems should use them with caution. Speak to your doctor if you experience any of these conditions; only she/he can decide whether TCAs are the right choice for you.
If you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breast-feeding, speak to your doctor about whether continuing therapy with TCAs is right for you.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Citalopram (Celexa)
Escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro)
Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax)
Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Fevarin, Dumyrox)
Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
Sertraline (Zoloft)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually preferred over other antidepressants because they are associated with fewer side effects. These medications are particularly helpful in the early stages of depression, and some studies suggest that SSRIs are most useful for people with more minor forms of depression. SSRIs work by preventing the reuptake (reabsorption) of serotonin by nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. In doing this, SSRIs cause more serotonin to be available in the brain for the sending of nerve impulses (neurotransmission), improving mood. The term “selective” stems from the fact that these medications work only to affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters.

SSRIs generally come in tablet form. Some are available as extended- or controlled-release tablets, usually labeled XR or CR. In addition to causing fewer side effects than other antidepressants, SSRIs are generally less likely to interact with other medications, and they are less harmful in the event of an overdose. Most SSRIs share the same side effects and mechanism of action, but some do have different chemical characteristics, meaning your body may respond differently to different SSRIs. For this reason, it may be beneficial to try a different SSRI if one causes certain side effects or does not work particularly well for you.

Side effects of SSRIs include nausea, impaired sexual function or desire, headache, diarrhea, nervousness, rash, agitation, restlessness, increased sweating, weight loss or gain, drowsiness, or insomnia. If you experience nausea from your medication, you may benefit from trying a controlled-release tablet instead. In addition, be sure to speak to your doctor about any other medications you may be taking, especially other medications that may affect serotonin levels such as St. John’s wort. Very high levels of serotonin in the brain, which can occur when SSRIs interact with other antidepressants, can cause something called “serotonin syndrome.” Signs of serotonin syndrome include confusion, restlessness, hallucinations, extreme agitation, fluctuations in blood pressure, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, fever, seizures, and coma. This rare but serious side effect requires immediate medical attention. For this reason, you should not take any other form of antidepressants while taking SSRIs or within two weeks of each other, without the knowledge and permission of your doctor.

In addition, be sure to speak with your doctor if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. Certain SSRIs, namely Paxil, have been associated with birth defects. In 2006, the FDA issued a warning that women taking SSRIs during pregnancy—especially after the first 20 weeks—were at a risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension, a condition that makes it difficult for your newborn baby to breath outside the womb.

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a class of antidepressants that are used to treat depression and certain anxiety disorders. They work by inhibiting the reabsorption (reuptake) of certain neurotransmitters associated depression, namely serotonin and norepinephrine. In doing this, SNRIs increase neurotransmission (communication) between the nerve cells in your brain and thus help to elevate mood. SNRIs are generally believed to cause fewer side effects than older antidepressant medications such as tricyclic antidepressants. However, SNRIs do have some potential side effects, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, abnormal dreams, impaired sexual function and desire, headache, constipation, excessive sweating, dry mouth, tremor, gas, anxiety, agitation, and abnormal vision.

Like SSRIs, SNRIs can also cause “serotonin syndrome” if taken in conjunction with or within two weeks of other medications that increase serotonin in the brain, including St. John’s wort. Serotonin syndrome requires immediate medical attention and can cause confusion, restlessness, hallucinations, severe agitation, fluctuations in blood pressure, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, fever, seizures, and coma.

In addition, you should not take venlafaxine (Effexor) if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or high cholesterol, since this medication is known to raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels, even in healthy individuals. Your doctor may recommend that you get additional blood pressure and cholesterol checks, even if you experience normal levels. In addition, people who have narrow-angle glaucoma or raised intraocular pressure should also avoid all SNRIs.

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about whether SNRIs are right for you. These medications have been deemed category C drugs by the FDA, meaning they have shown side effects to the fetus in animal studies but have not been adequately studied in pregnant women. You and your doctor should decide together upon the appropriate course of treatment during pregnancy. SNRIs should be avoided during the third trimester to avoid certain complications in your baby. Evidence suggests that SNRIs taken after the twentieth week of pregnancy increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension, a condition that makes it more difficult for your newborn baby to breath outside the womb.

Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid)

Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) is used to treat manic depression, a condition characterized by severe mood changes, ranging from a state of excitement and elation to feelings of severe sadness and depression. Lithium works to reduce the frequency and severity of manic-depressive states, but it is not yet known exactly how lithium works to help stabilize a person’s moods. However, it is known that lithium alters the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body, interferes with the production and uptake of certain neurotransmitters, affects the concentrations of tryptophan and serotonin in the brain, and interrupts the signaling of dopamine receptors in the brain. Lithium has been used to treat manic depression since the 1950s, and the most common preparation, lithium carbonate, was approved by the FDA in the 1970s. The effects of the medication are usually felt after about 1 week of treatment, but it can take up to 3 weeks to feel the full benefits.

Before starting treatment with lithium, be sure to tell your doctor if you are on a low-sodium diet, since lithium interferes with the regulation of sodium and water levels in the body. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. In addition, you should always take lithium with food (to prevent stomach upset) and at the same time(s) every day to keep the amount of drug in your body at a constant level.

Lithium can cause certain side effects. The most common side effects include hand tremor, dry mouth, altered taste, weight gain, increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, impotence, decreased sexual desire, and kidney abnormalities. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur but usually disappear as therapy continues. Taking the medication with food can help to alleviate some of these gastrointestinal side effects. Lithium can also cause low blood pressure and decreased heart rate. Approximately 1 in 25 people taking lithium develops an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter); low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism) have also been reported. Signs of this condition include dry skin, hair loss, hoarseness, increased sensitivity to cold, and swelling of the feet, lower legs, or neck.

Once you start treatment, your doctor should work with you to monitor the amount of lithium in your blood. If lithium blood levels get too high, your dosage should be reduced. Certain signs of high blood lithium levels include loss of appetite, vision problems, exhaustion, muscle weakness, muscle twitches, tremor, unsteady walking, confusion, seizure, arrhythmias, slurred speech, and coma. Once your lithium dosage is stable, you should get blood tests every month, kidney function tests every 3-6 months, and thyroid function tests every year.

Lithium can interact with many medications, including some commonly prescribed in lupus treatment. These medications include most blood pressure medications, NSAIDs, and some other medications (e.g., antidepressants). For this reason, be sure to tell your doctor of any medications you may be taking before starting treatment with lithium.

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should not take lithium, since studies in pregnant women have shown a serious risk to the fetus. In addition, since lithium is secreted into the breast milk, women who are breast feeding should be very careful when taking lithium. Your doctor can advise you on the best course of treatment if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban)

Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) is another type of antidepressant classified as a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). NDRIs work by preventing the reuptake of these neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn elevates mood. Bupropion is used to treat clinical depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and is sometimes implemented in smoking cessation. It can be prescribed either alone or in combination with other antidepressant therapies, such as SSRIs. The exact mechanism of action of bupropion in the brain is not known, but it is thought to work differently than other antidepressant medications.

Side effects of bupropion are generally similar to SSRIs and SNRIs and can include agitation, dry mouth, insomnia, headache, nausea, constipation, and tremor. 4 out of every 1,000 people taking bupropion in doses of less than 450 mg/day experience seizures, and this risk increases by ten times in doses exceeding this amount. Bupropion can also increase blood pressure, so be sure to speak with your doctor if you have hypertension. In addition, be sure your doctor knows about other medications that you may be taking, especially other antidepressants.

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether you may take bupropion. One study has suggested a small link between bupropion use in the first trimester and the risk of congenital abnormalities, but other studies must be performed to accurately evaluate this risk. Nursing mothers should avoid bupropion because it is secreted into breast milk.

Other Antidepressants
Mirtazapine (Remeron)
Trazodone (Desyrel)

Friday, December 9, 2011


The connective tissue diseases are a family of closely related disorders. They include: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), polymyositis-dermatomyositis (PM-DM), systemic sclerosis (SSc or scleroderma), Sjogren's syndrome (SS) and various forms of vasculitis.

These diseases have a number of common features:

They affect women much more frequently than men.
They are "multisystem" diseases, capable of affecting the function of many organs.
They "overlap" with one another, sharing certain clinical symptoms, signs, and laboratory abnormalities.
Blood vessels are the most common target of injury in all of these diseases.
The immune system is abnormal and accounts, at least in part, for the observed tissue damage.
Although lupus most often occurs alone, many people with lupus also have symptoms characteristic of one or more of the other connective tissue diseases. In this circumstance, a physician may use the term "overlap" to describe the illness. There are several well-recognized overlaps that may affect people with lupus.

Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis

In lupus, joint pain (arthralgia) is common. Joint swelling (arthritis) may be present in some cases, but the majority of those with lupus experience joint pain without swelling or only intermittent swelling. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), joint swelling is always present and pain is common but less prominent. Because rheumatoid arthritis is more likely than lupus to cause joint deformities and bone destruction, joint replacement or reconstructive surgery is more often required in RA than in SLE. If a person with lupus develops severe arthritis with joint deformities, he/she should be considered to have rheumatoid-like arthritis. In some instances, the physician might have reason to believe that both diseases -- SLE and RA -- have occurred in the same person. When arthritis develops in the course of lupus, treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), low doses of cortisone, and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) are usually helpful. People with lupus who have typical rheumatoid arthritis are prescribed the standard forms of RA treatment. These include methotrexate, sulfasalazine and in some cases, more potent drugs to suppress joint inflammation.


Many persons with lupus have muscle pain (myalgia), but a few have muscle weakness due to inflammation (myositis). The "muscle weakness" that people with lupus report is most commonly due to fatigue or high doses of cortisone. In polymyositis-dermatomyositis, the primary problem is muscle weakness due to muscle inflammation. In myositis, weakness especially affects the hips (inability to rise from a chair or toilet seat, or to climb stairs unassisted) and shoulders (inability to lift a weight onto a high shelf or comb one’s hair). Typically, there is little or no pain associated with the weakness. People with myositis have increased blood levels of creatine kinase (CK, a substance that leaks from injured muscle), abnormal electrical activity of muscles (seen in an electromyogram, or EMG), and muscle cell degeneration and inflammation that is found in a muscle biopsy. Prednisone or other cortisone-like drugs are most often recommended for the treatment of myositis, and may be used in combination with other immune-suppressing drugs. Cortisone itself, in high doses, may actually cause muscle weakness of the hips and shoulders, very similar to what occurs in myositis. But in this condition, called "steroid myopathy," the CK, EMG, and the muscle biopsy do not suggest inflammation, and recovery of strength promptly follows reduction of the cortisone dose.

Lupus and Scleroderma

The hallmark of scleroderma (SSc) is thickened skin (sclero=hard, derma=skin) which affects the fingers, and often the hands, forearms, feet, and face. If skin thickening is widespread, it may extend to the upper arms, thighs, chest, and abdomen. These changes are due to the excessive production and uncontrolled laydown of collagen, the substance normally present in scar tissue. The variety of skin rashes seen in lupus are due to inflammation, rather than fibrosis. These include the facial "butterfly" rash and photosensitivity reaction (rash, hives or blisters immediately after exposure to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet light). The latter is limited to the skin surfaces exposed. An exception is discoid lupus, which consists of spots or patches of rash, mostly in sun exposed areas (face, ears, extremities), which typically cause scarring and skin pigment changes. The appearance of scleroderma and discoid lupus are entirely different, and should be easily distinguished from one another by your physician.

Other features less common in SLE than in SSc include: scarring of the lower portions of the lung (pulmonary fibrosis); difficulty in swallowing solid foods such as bread or meat; and heartburn or indigestion from stomach acid "refluxing" (coming back up) into the esophagus. Difficulty swallowing and reflux are due to sluggish and uncoordinated motion of the muscle layer of the esophagus (esophageal dysmotility). Scleroderma often leads to finger and hand deformities as well, due to the combination of skin thickening, arthritis, tendinitis and tenosynovitis (inflammation and scarring of tendons and their lining tissues). These processes ultimately result in limited movement of the fingers. Raynaud's phenomenon -- when fingers turn blue or white with cold -- occurs in 95 percent of people with scleroderma and in 40 percent of persons with lupus.

The primary treatment approaches to SSc are quite different from those for lupus. Therefore, treatment for scleroderma-like problems in people with lupus should be individualized and directed at the particular problems present at any given time.

Mixed Connective Tissue Disease

Some individuals have symptoms and signs of three connective tissue diseases, i.e., lupus, polymyositis-dermatomyositis, and scleroderma. At any given time, the combination of problems encountered by the patient may vary considerably, from no active disease to features of one, two, or all three of these conditions at the same time. These persons often (but not always) have one specific blood antibody in their blood (anti-U1RNP antibody) but not the other antibodies commonly associated with SLE, SSc, or PM-DM. Whether this is an entirely separate disease, or a situation in which one person has three diseases, remains uncertain. However, the presence of a single blood antibody is a strong point in favor of a distinctive disease. As in the other circumstances mentioned above, treatment should be individualized and directed at the particular problems present at any given time.

Sjogren's Syndrome

Henrik Sjögren was a Swedish ophthalmologist and the first to recognize that dry eyes and dry mouth were often found in people with connective tissue diseases. These symptoms are caused by the accumulation of immune system cells (lymphocytes) in and around tear and saliva producing glands. The build-up of cells disturbs the function of these glands and leads to reduced production of tears and saliva. This condition also interferes with the protective mechanisms of the eye and mouth. Eye inflammation and ulcers of the cornea, as well as fungal infections of the mouth (thrush), occur with increased frequency in those with Sjogren's. Rarely, a person with this disorder develops a malignancy (cancer) affecting the lymphocytes (lymphoma). Today, Sjogren’s syndrome is itself accorded the status of a distinct connective tissue disorder.

Sjogren's Syndrome also occurs in some people with lupus. They have an increased frequency of sun-sensitive rashes and Sjogren's-related blood antibodies (anti-SSA and anti-SSB antibodies). Women with anti-SSA antibodies are at increased risk of having babies with "neonatal lupus." Symptoms in the infant can be as minor as a temporary lupus-like skin rash, or as serious as permanent damage to the electrical system of the heart which results in a very slow heart rate (complete heart block).

The best treatments for Sjogren's Syndrome include: artificial tears (usually satisfactory) and either artificial saliva (most often unsatisfactory) or a saliva stimulant such as pilocarpine, and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). Eye drops containing cyclosporin have also just been introduced and have significant benefit for dry eyes in some cases. Arthritis, fatigue and skin rash in people with Sjogren's is often treated with Plaquenil.

Frequency Of Overlap Syndromes In People With Lupus

The majority of people with lupus have lupus alone. Between 5 and 30 percent of people with lupus report having overlap symptoms. The likelihood of a person with lupus also having an overlap disease is 15 percent, distributed as follows:

Overlap Disease Approximate Rate of Occurrence

Rheumatoid Arthritis 1%
Polymyositis-Dermatomyositis 2%
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease 3%
Scleroderma 4%
Sjogren's syndrome 5%

Heredity And Overlap

It is unusual (less than 10 percent of the time) for a person with lupus to have a close family member (parent, child, brother, or sister) who also suffers from lupus. However, it is common for persons with lupus to have relatives (including grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins) with other connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's Syndrome, scleroderma, etc. These co-occurrences raise the possibility that heredity may be a factor in all of the connective tissue diseases. Most scientists agree that important hereditary associations with these diseases are present in some families. Additional research is needed to shed light on this important question.

Prognosis For People With Lupus And Overlap Syndromes

It is important for those with lupus to be aware of the symptoms that might indicate the development of "overlap" features, since these symptoms and abnormalities may be best managed with treatments not typically used for lupus. Fortunately, when an overlap syndrome is present, the symptoms characteristic of the other connective tissue diseases involved are usually mild and not life-threatening.

Related Information

More Than Your Share: Lupus In Overlap with Other Diseases
Summer 2008 issue of Lupus Now magazine

Frequently Asked Question

How common is it to have both Lupus and RA?
Believe it or not, it is more common than you think to have more than one disease. This is called overlapping connective tissue diseases. The connective tissue diseases are a family of closely related disorders. They include: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or lupus), Polymyositis-Dermatomyositis (PM-DM), Systemic Sclerosis (SSc or scleroderma), Sjögren's Syndrome (SS), and various forms of Vasculitis. Although lupus most often occurs alone, many people with lupus also have symptoms characteristic of one or more of the other connective tissue diseases. In this circumstance, a physician may use the term "overlap" to describe the illness. There are several well-recognized overlaps that may affect people with lupus this includes the overlap of SLE and RA.