Archive for June, 2009

Five Simple Words….

June 28, 2009

Five Simple Words to Keep Chronic Illness at Bay
by Madeleine Parish

When I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seven years ago, my illness began to consume my thoughts and time. Questions taunted me like unrelenting harpies: What will I do? How will I manage? Who will take care of me? To try to keep fears and symptoms at bay, I studied up on my diagnosis, and chronic illness in general, became fluent in the language of disability, medical research, and insurance claims. I even started to find that, if I met someone new, my illness became my calling card. Not five minutes into a conversation with a perfect stranger, I would hear myself quoting study results, describing in clinical terms, suspicions about retro-viruses and other prospective pathogens. I talked about my illness all the time! Gradually, I noticed the glazed look in the eyes of friends and strangers as I reviewed the latest research findings, or described in minute detail the effects of my recent treatments. My illness had become my identity! Over time, I realized I would manage just fine, even within the framework of chronic illness, provided I took responsibility for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being, and made health and healing my first priorities. In doing so, I learned to change my attitudes, behavior, lifestyle, even my vocabulary. These five words helped me do just that:


Before chronic illness withered my penchant for independence, I took pride and refuge in self-reliance. Independence protected me–or so I thought–keeping me safe and invulnerable to rejection. Then, when I couldn’t get out of bed for days, or when pain wouldn’t allow me to negotiate stairs, I needed help. With my back against the proverbial wall, I saw self-sufficiency for the prideful defense it was, and that it no longer served me. So I dug inside for some courage, dusted off untested humility, and asked for help (PLEASE!) And when I did, I learned four things: First, some people are not only willing to help, they like helping and feel honored to be asked. Second, some people say no for reasons that have nothing to do with me. Third, whether people say yes or no, asking them doesn’t kill me. (I admit to some emotional bruising when I felt rejected, but, hey, I survived.) And fourth, by asking without shame or embarrassment, I learn to help others when they need or ask. Eventually I found that the family and friends who wouldn’t or couldn’t help no longer bothered me, and I appreciated more deeply those who did. As a result of their responses, I began to get a different vision of myself, vulnerable, but still loved, respected and valued.

Thank You

On, how I loved it at first! The way people scrunched their faces in sympathy when I said I had a chronic illness! I had what I wanted most: their attention. It didn’t take me long to learn that, while I had their attention, I didn’t have their interest. Unless, of course, they were chronic rescuers, people given to latching onto someone’s misfortune as their mission, their justification, their hook into unhealthy co-dependency. Self-pity is a turnoff to healthy people, and it keeps ill people so focused on themselves and fence in by illness, that they fail to see that, outside the fence, life goes on. What is the best, most effective antidote to self-pity? Gratitude! Thinking myself grateful doesn’t seem to work when I’m most shaky and self-pity is knocking for permission to enter. I have more success using gratitude as a wellness tool if I take action by writing a list of all the things I’m grateful for. The act of writing, plus the tangible, undeniable list seems to work better and faster than a mental checklist. The list doesn’t have to be long or complex. It can be as simple as the fact that I can feel the sun’s warmth on my face, or smell the honeysuckle’s perfume drifting over my neighbor’s fence. (That’s not to say the big things, like family, friends, food and shelter don’t count!) If I’ve cultivated an “attitude of gratitude” on days when I feel good physically, when I’ve accomplished something I’ve worked toward, and when I’m surrounded by loving family and friends, I find it easier to come up with a list when my symptoms are raging.


One of the difficult lessons I’ve learned through chronic illness is how to set limits on how much I allow other people, even those with good intentions, to interfere with my health. When I first got sick, I wanted people to like me even more than when I was well, because I was afraid my health challenge would ruin my relationships. That I’d be left alone and miserable for the rest of my life. Trying to prevent that possibility, I accepted invitations and kept commitments even when I was concerned they would affect my well-being. To avoid disappointing a hostess, for example, I said yes to a party, even thought parties, in particular, zapped my energy and required two or three days recovery time. Eventually, I learned to be more selective, and that I had choices. One, I could say a gentle but firm, “No, I’m sorry, not this time.” Two, I could go and leave when I had to, and before I was exhausted. Three, I could attend just part of the party, or just stop by for dessert. It was important that I participate as much as possible, because I didn’t want to lose touch with my social network. Over time, a few “friends” couldn’t accept my limitations and stopped inviting me. Those who understood my necessary boundaries, though, stuck with me, and our relationships are that much stronger as a result.


Back in the ’80s I had a boss who talked a lot about “creativity within constraints.” When she did, I nodded doing my best to look wise, or at least intellectually agile enough to know what she was talking about. But I didn’t. Sure, I knew what the words meant, but I couldn’t apply the concept to myself. Creativity? That was easy back then. After all, I was young, healthy, enthusiastic, ambitious. But constraints? What were they? A few years later, illness taught me a lot about constraints and the importance of saying YES to the opportunities I found within limitation. My first months of chronic illness were spent in such pain that I hadn’t time, energy or mind enough to consider creativity. Survival was my mode. Pure survival. But gradually my health began to improve. At first an occasional hour or two of feeling better, then back into the pit. Then the better times grew more frequent. Then one day I surprised myself by saying out loud, to an empty room, “I want to DO something. What can I DO?” One day I was bemoaning my conundrum to a friend. He listened patiently, nodded in all the right places, and when I finished he looked at me as if I really wanted to hear what he had to say. Sensing a moment of truth on its way, I sipped from my cup of tea and braced myself. “For years,” he said, “you’ve told me how you’ve wanted to write. And all I heard was how you didn’t have time. NOW YOU HAVE TIME!” Yes, I thought, HE’S RIGHT. But after I thought about it, I shook my head. I couldn’t imagine sitting at a desk and typing for hours on end. But I could envision working on a laptop that could travel from table to sofa to bed, writing a paragraph or a page as my muse and body allowed. When my friend left, I picked up the phone, called a local office supply store, and ordered a laptop. Two days later it arrived. I signed for it, took it from the delivery man, and carried it inside, holding it like a sacred vessel that held my future. It was! Some days I couldn’t think. Some days I could think, but not write. But some days I could tap out a few sentences then paragraphs. Then I wrote an essay. And another. A piece of fiction. And another. Chronic illness may have imposed new constraints, but I always have the power to learn to live creatively within them.


Desire, the Buddhas professed, is the route of all suffering. NO WAY! Desire got me promotions, new cars, nicer clothes, a better tennis serve. It’s what keeps me striving, aiming higher, trying harder, running faster… Desire also kept me thinking that what I had wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough and that the only answer to “not good enough” was MORE. After I became ill it became apparent to me that, if I wanted to live at all peacefully, I needed to learn the difference between wants and needs. Because if I lived in a state of unmet wants, I would be not only chronically ill, but chronically miserable, too. The reality is that, even if I am in physical pain, or I don’t otherwise feel or look as I would like, and even if my bank account is dwindling, or my wardrobe isn’t up to snuff, if I stay connected to my spiritual source and to loving family and friends, my basic needs ARE met. I don’t want to be sick. But I don’t need to be physically well to be happy. When I hear the MORE MONSTER rearing his head, when I feel his self-effacing steam trying to wilt my confidence, it’s important for me to say one word, clearly, firmly, confidently: ENOUGH!

© 2009 Madeleine Parish

Madeleine Parish is the author of “A Pilgrim’s Way–Meditations for Healing”. She lives and writes in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

This is something I really need to think about…

Good Day

June 20, 2009

Today was a good day, physically speaking. Today was the Lacrosse Day of Champions for my step son’s Lacrosse League. Rob coaches 2 teams & is the House League Director.

My day started very early, so last night I was in bed before 9:30 – unheard of when I’m not crashed out. This morning I rolled out of bed at 6:10am – amazing accomplishment considering I don’t normally get up til noon. Got dressed & packed up & out the door to get the van we were renting for the day. Finished at the Rental agency by 7.30. Head up north to the arena ( I live 20km/12mi from the arena) to drop off my other half. Off to pick up my stepson & grab breakfast & back to the arena by 9.30am. Help unpack the van.

I take a few minutes to watch the Peanuts play (those are the little anklebiters) & then off to be girl friday (even tho it’s Saturday).. Most of the next few hours was spent between doing some in-house tasks & sitting down to read. Oddly enuf, I was *still* doing good.. No pain, no fatigue.. So, at 11.30 I drop off my step-son & get my lunch. I come back by 12 & eat while Rob’s on the floor coaching the Novice kids.. He’s just bouncing off the walls in enthusiasm.. I had to run (yes, run-or as close as I can get to a run) to the change rooms to get an Ice pack for an injury – twice (yes, twice) When his game finishes, I head out to pick up his lunch while the third novice game is on to see who wins. I’m back shortly after 1pm & decide to head to his parent’s place for a nap.

So I’ve been a busy body with bits of activity & bits of no activity, but no real “rest” periods, not like my doc wants (I’ll explain rest to ya’ll another time).. But I’m still not having pain.. & not the devastating fatigue of the CFS.. What I haven’t done by this point is taken my meds… at 12 noon, I am supposed to take my codeine contin – 12 hour release that I take at 12 noon & 12 midnight.. So, no wonder when I wake up form my nap & I’m sore and achey and still & starting to hurt.. *this* is when I realize I haven’t taken my meds. Of course, where are they – the arena.

When I get to the arena Rob’s ready to go.. immediately loads up the van & off we go – no real time for me to take anything.. with a detour to Dollaramma & I fergot about my meds again.. So I don’t get my meds until dinner – we hit the Keg on the way home and while waiting in the bar for our table, I take them.. 5 of ‘em.. ya, that’s a small chunk of medication. But interestingly enough, I’ve started to feel better after I had gotten moving around.. And interestingly, My leggs didn’t ache when I got up from sitting at dinner like they normally do.. When I sit for extended periods, like a social chatty dinner that lasts almost 2 hours, then ya, the leggs are usually difficult to get moving..

So, now we’re home, the van’s unpacked, I’ve got the overnight info for parking the van cuz we’re not going to take it back until tomorrow morning. I’ve gone on FaceBook to geed my virtual roses.. I’ve done a blog post & now writing this one at almost 11pm and I am still going.. Where’s Rob? Crashed out on the bed. But I am heading to bed soon too..

But it’s been a good day… Am I gonna feel it tomorrow? Unfortunately, yes.

It’s not real.. Not for me apparently. :(

June 19, 2009

What would you do? How would you react? If you got told by the person that has been your primary support person for the last 3 + years.. That he/she doesn’t believe you’re sick? Doesn’t believe you’re really *that* tired? Doesn’t believe you’re in *that* much pain? And thinks it’s all in your head.

I was told the other day by the person who I look to most for help & support with my fms & everything else, exactly that. He doesn’t believe me. He thinks I’m either making it up & have fooled all the doctors and specialists, Or it’s all in my head. He said he’s never really believed me since he met me.. He thinks I’ve been lying to the world this whole time, that I have been putting myself through test after test after test, several invasive just to play sick? He thinks I’m a leach on the government rolls because I get disability (and we all know how easy that is to get). That it’s my self esteem that’s screwing me up. He’s thinks that I’ve got nothing of value.. Nothing to offer.. I’m nothing of value.. *sigh*

How much more of a stab in the heart is that?? How much more hurtful can one person be??

I’ve considered the option of leaving before, but not all that serious.. But now,. yes I am giving it serious thought. How can I stay here with this person who I should be looking to for help, but who does not really believe what I am going through is real. I have thought on & off that sometimes he doesn’t get it – but that makes me wonder if he even understand, let alone cares about me at all. It’s heart wrenching.

Sodium Oxybate Improves FMS Core Symptoms??

June 15, 2009

Data Suggests Sodium Oxybate Significantly Improves Pain and the Core Symptoms of Fibromyalgia


PALO ALTO, Calif., June 15, 2009 — Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ (Nasdaq: JAZZ) sodium oxybate (JZP-6) demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in pain and the core symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, according to Phase III data presented last week at the 2009 Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Seattle, WA. These data have not been evaluated by the FDA or other regulatory authorities for use of sodium oxybate in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Widespread chronic pain is the hallmark of fibromyalgia, but the vast majority of patients are also affected by a broader constellation of symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, and impaired physical function.

“The data showed that sodium oxybate improves the key symptoms of fibromyalgia: pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances,” said Dr. Todd Swick, one of the study’s investigators and Medical Director of the Houston Sleep Center and Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of Texas-Houston School of Medicine. “Millions of people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia and there is a continuing unmet need for therapies that address the constellation of symptoms that can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life.”

The 14-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 548 adult patients with fibromyalgia randomized to one of three treatment arms: sodium oxybate 4.5 g/night, sodium oxybate 6 g/night or placebo. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of patients who achieved at least 30% reduction in pain from baseline to endpoint based on the Pain Visual Analog Scale (VAS).

At three months, 54.2% (p<0.001) of patients treated with sodium oxybate 4.5 g/night and 58.5% (p<0.001) of patients treated with sodium oxybate 6 g/night showed significantly greater reduction in pain as measured by at least a 30% improvement in baseline pain VAS score, compared with 35.2% of patients taking placebo using Last Observation Carried Forward analysis.

Additional Data Highlights

— Patients treated with sodium oxybate 4.5 g/night and 6g/night showed significant reductions in fatigue as early as Week 1 after dosing compared with placebo as measured by the Fatigue VAS (p<0.001). These differences were maintained throughout the 14 weeks of the study (p less than or equal to 0.009).

— Patients taking sodium oxybate 4.5 g/night and 6g/night showed significant improvement in sleep patterns compared to placebo as measured by the Jenkins Sleep Scale (p<0.001).

— Statistically significant improvements in mean scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, a measure of daily function, and on Patient Global Impression of Change were seen in patients receiving sodium oxybate compared to placebo.

— Sodium oxybate was generally well tolerated, with the majority of adverse events reported being mild to moderate in nature. Adverse events were similar to those seen in previous sodium oxybate experience.

— In this study, the most common adverse events, with incidence greater than or equal to 5% and at least twice the rate of placebo, were headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and sinusitis.

Additional details on the data presented at the 2009 APSS can be found at (abstract 0984, p.354).

Development Plans

Jazz Pharmaceuticals has completed its second Phase III clinical trial of JZP-6 and expects to announce top-line results from this study around mid-2009. Assuming positive results for the second study, the company anticipates submitting a New Drug Application for sodium oxybate for the treatment of fibromyalgia to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2009. UCB anticipates filing in the EU shortly after. UCB has the exclusive marketing and distribution rights to sodium oxybate for fibromyalgia in Europe and some other countries outside North America and will manage registrations accordingly.

About Sodium Oxybate

Sodium oxybate is the sodium salt form of gamma-hydroxybutyrate, an endogenous neurotransmitter and metabolite of GABA. While the precise mechanism of action is unknown, the effects may be mediated in part through interaction with GABA(B) and GHB receptors. Sodium oxybate is the active ingredient in XYREM(R), approved by the FDA for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and cataplexy (the sudden loss of muscle tone) in adult patients with narcolepsy. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends sodium oxybate as a standard of care for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved indications. It is also approved by the European Medical Evaluation Agency (EMEA) for the treatment of narcolepsy with cataplexy in adult patients. Most commonly reported adverse drug reactions in narcolepsy patients are dizziness, nausea and headaches. Sodium oxybate has the potential to induce respiratory depression and neuropsychiatric events. Sodium oxybate has not been evaluated by regulators for the treatment of fibromyalgia and is not approved for this use. Additional safety information for Xyrem, including black box warnings, can be found in the full prescribing information at

About Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia, a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain, affects 0.5% – 5% of adults worldwide. Fibromyalgia is believed to be a central nervous system condition, resulting from neurological changes in how the brain perceives and responds to pain. In addition to pain, the main symptoms are fatigue, disturbed sleep and morning stiffness. The exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. It may be triggered by physical trauma, emotional stress, chronic pain or infection. Genetics, neurochemicals that affect pain modulation, neurohormones and sleep physiology abnormalities are thought to play a role. Research also has suggested a relationship between sleep and pain. Fibromyalgia patients experience a high prevalence of sleep problems, including a reduction in non-restorative or deep sleep.

About Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals is a specialty pharmaceutical company that identifies, develops and commercializes innovative treatments for important, underserved markets in neurology and psychiatry. For further information see

Jazz Pharmaceuticals “Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995

This press release contains forward-looking statements related to the development of Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ sodium oxybate (JZP-6) product candidate for the treatment of fibromyalgia, including the timing of results from the second Phase III pivotal clinical trial and the submission of a New Drug Application to the FDA. These forward-looking statements are based on the company’s current expectations and inherently involve significant risks and uncertainties. Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ actual results and the timing of events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of these risks and uncertainties, which include, without limitation, risks related to the outcomes of the company’s second Phase III clinical study of sodium oxybate for the treatment of fibromyalgia and the timing of the announcement of clinical results, and risks that a New Drug Application may not be submitted, or may be delayed, and that sodium oxybate for the treatment of fibromyalgia may not be approved for marketing by regulatory authorities. These and other risk factors are discussed under “Risk Factors” in the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2009 filed by Jazz Pharmaceuticals with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 7, 2009. Jazz Pharmaceuticals undertakes no duty or obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this release as a result of new information, future events or changes in its expectations.

(C) 2009 Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
SOURCE Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Web Site:

Under Construction

June 15, 2009

As you can see, my blog has changed a bit.. More changes are coming.. All the green will be switched to shade of purple, I hope. My other half says I can’t, but I am tech-savvy enough to be able to make the changes in the wp code & image files 🙂 Just not 100% sure I can do justice to the background images.. We’ll see.. If I can’t manage it, I have a second choice, which would be easier to dump into purple – I just like this look better 🙂

Some widgets will be added down the side.. I still need to update my links, and I apologize for that.. I didn’t get much notice that I was changing my look.

I will still be adding posts when I can.. & as you can see by the NIN post, they are not always health related *g*.. Enjoy!

Mtl Pain Researcher Joins Medical Hall of Fame

June 15, 2009

Montreal Pain Researcher Joins Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

By Martin C. Barry

Dr. Ronald Melzack’s interest in studying pain started off as a scientific problem, much like studying vision or hearing. “It was just plain curiosity about pain,” he said about his recent induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

It wasn’t until he was a postdoctoral fellow in medical school at the University of Oregon and “met all kinds of people in terrible pain that could not be treated” that the study of chronic pain became his lifelong passion.

Last month during a ceremony in Montreal, Melzack was inducted into this country’s medical hall of fame along with four other individuals recognized for winning their place in Canadian medical history. Located in London, Ont., the hall of fame is dedicated to honouring Canadians who have changed the world’s health care landscape.

“I’m thrilled,” Melzack said of becoming a member of the Hall of Fame that has honoured such medical pioneers as Banting and Best, known for their discovery of insulin. Melzack’s pioneering research into pain mechanisms and pain control spans more than a half century and has had a major impact on every field of medicine dealing with patients who suffer from pain, in particular chronic pain.

Ronald Melzack is “thrilled” with his induction into the medical hall of fame Photo: Martin C. Barry

Born in Montreal, Melzack first became interested in the connection between pain and environment at McGill when he studied the reactions of dogs to pain stimulus. For the first six months of their lives, one group of dogs was raised in kennels while the others were raised in homes with small children. The dogs who had no interaction with children reacted more to “being pinched.”

A leader and visionary in his field, Melzack made four major contributions in the field of pain.

With the support of Dr. Joseph Stratford, Melzack co-founded the first pain clinic in Canada known as the McGill University Montreal General Hospital Pain Center where he served as research director from 1974 to 2000. The clinic is known to be one of the best organized centres for pain treatment in the world.

In 1965, Melzack developed the gate-control theory of pain in collaboration with neurophysiologist Dr. Patrick Wall.

The theory produced an explosive growth in research and resulted in experimental and clinical psychology becoming an integral part of pain research and therapy. Then in 1968, Melzack published an extension of the gate theory, proposing that pain is a subjective, multidimensional experience produced by parallel neural networks.

Another breakthrough was the development in the mid-70s of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, now the most widely used method worldwide for measuring pain in clinical research. It was developed during Melzack’s postdoctoral years, when he recorded more than 100 words to describe pain. Then with the help of a statistician, he obtained quantitative measures for each descriptor.

His fascination with phantom limb pain led to the publication in 1989 of the “neuromatrix theor y of pain.” In it he proposes that we are born with a genetically determined neural network that generates the perception of the body, the sense of self, and can also generate chronic pain, even when no limbs are present.

The world’s knowledge of pain might be a different today if Melzack had chosen to pursue a different path. While working toward his postgraduate and doctoral degrees during the early 1950s, his brother, Louis, was establishing the foundations of the Classic Book Shops chain that would eventually become one of Canada’s leading retailers of paperbacks.

“They wanted me to go into the book business and I didn’t want to,” he said. “By this time I was really hooked on psychology. Louis thought an academic life was nice, but I would never really earn a living.”

That’s when Dr. Victor Goldbloom, who was then a young pediatrician and a regular customer at one of the book shops, advised the family that they should give the future Dr. Melzack their full support. Goldbloom remains in touch with him to this day.

Mrs. Hull, whom Melzack had met in the course of his postdoctoral research, was instrumental in developing the McGill Pain Questionnaire. A diabetic, she experienced phantom pain following the amputation of her legs. “She would get throbbing pain, burning pain, crushing, all these adjectives,” Melzack said. “And then I began to write down all these adjectives. And then other patients would use other adjectives – a variety of them.”

Pain researchers are getting a better understanding of a condition known as fibromyalgia, according to Melzack. “The stress system is highly involved in it,” he said. “We know that there are trigger points, sensitive areas in the body where you’re likely to find the same pattern in virtually everybody, which means that these muscles seem to be under some strange tension for reasons not known. It produces depression and is activated by depression. But now there’s so much more research on it and it’s become so prevalent.”


Yoga for Breakfast: 15 Minutes to Free Your Mind

June 8, 2009

Yoga for Breakfast: 15 Minutes to Free Your Mind

By Walter Armstrong

It’s morning in America, fellas, so wake up and shake your asana! Not your style, you say? You’ll take a power-aerobics class and a sauna after work instead? We don’t think so.

Come on, Madonna does it. And your instructor is a total stud and way enlightened. Meet Robert Young, one of Toronto’s top fitness gurus. Yogi Young’s specialty is Fusion Yoga, a unique workout he developed fusing aerobics, Pilates, gymnastics, and dance with different types of yoga.

“I came to yoga like a lot of gay men,” Young says, “after years of doing aerobics, weights, cardio, Jane Fonda-type stuff. I reached a point where improving my flexibility was an issue.” But unlike a lot of gay men, Young wasn’t just looking for a little cross-training add-on to prevent the injuries or boredom so common among devoted gym bunnies. A world-class aerobics competitor, Young had placed as high as fifth in international championships and wanted to break into the winner’s circle. Flexibility was an issue. So he took up the Byzantine study of ballet in his late 20s, but needed a more immediate payoff.

That’s when he turned to yoga and never looked back. “At first, for me, yoga was the fastest, most efficient flexibility training. You sink into a pose, and the tension just dissolves,” he says. “Its yang side was all I was after. But as my commitment got deeper, I began tuning in to its yin, the subtler, spiritual aspects beyond the goal-oriented level.”

Out went the bling bling of global competition, in came the om of personal compassion.

But here at RealJock, we know not everyone is logged on for a total life transformation. So let’s start slow, with 15 minutes in the morning, two or three times a week. Just try our yoga-for-breakfast program for one month. We’re not talking marriage. We promise you’ll be back for more.

While there are thousands of yoga poses (asanas), as befits any 5,000-year-old discipline, Young advises beginners to stick with a few basic, classic postures. “These are symmetrical and incorporate each body part, and both right and left sides,” he says. “Yoga means ‘yoke’ or ‘uniting,’ and you can come to it to develop one capacity—flexibility, say, or strength, balance or breathing—but you quickly learn that you need to develop all the others at the same time. These poses help you feel that.”

Young recommended that RealJock contact Ronnilyn Pustil, one of Toronto’s top yoga instructors and a professional writer, for a how-to for these four a.m. asanas. Pustil has the prose for pose, and she was all about sharing with her gay brothers at RealJock. Check it out:

Photo 1 – Cow

Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill
Photo 2 – Cat

Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill

1. Cow/Cat Pose (see Photos 1 and 2)
This starter will wake up your spine, centering your body for the rest of your routine. It’s actually a combo (yoke!) of two poses, one flowing into the other. This will give you a feel for how to master moving from pose to pose through your yoga breakfast over the month—but first you have to nail each one.

1. Begin in tabletop posture on a yoga mat or exercise mat (on all fours, with wrists directly under shoulders, knees under hips). Don’t let your shoulders sag. Press into your hands and lengthen, strengthening through your arms.
2. As you move through this, let the movement begin in your pelvis and follow through your spine like a wave. Your head is the last thing to move. Now, inhale Cow: Flare your butt toward the wall behind you. Arch your back. Let your belly sink toward the ground. Reach your heart away from your sitting bones, slide your shoulders away from your ears. Your neck is part of your spine, so don’t crank it back—leave a little room so if someone wanted to kiss you on the back of your neck they could.
3. Now, exhale Cat: Tuck your tail end round your back like the scared cat on Halloween. Tuck your lower belly in toward your spine. Let your head hang. Make it round.
4. Do six to nine sets, moving to your own breath. Then, from tabletop, tuck your toes to look into the floor and press your sitting bones up into Downward Dog, coming into an upside-down V shape.

Photo 3 – Downward Dog

Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill

2. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) (see Photo 3)
This classic-as-Lassie pose, Downward Dog is another spinal stre-e-e-e-e-etch from tip to toe that strengthens the arms and wrists and the legs and ankles, making it an all-purpose favorite. D-Dog is also part of the Sun Salutation sequence, so why not start the day with a full-body bark to the great ball of fire?

1. Start in the upside-down V shape with your feet hip-width apart and your hands flat on the floor at the front of your V. Spread your fingers open and root your palms and knuckles into the floor. Pull up in your wrist, arms. Open and soften your shoulders, creating some space on either side of your neck.
2. Lift your lower belly up and in. Lift your sitting bones; feel the sensation of flaring your butt open. Root your heels so that they’re yearning for the ground.
3. Press the tops of your thighs toward the wall behind you. Lift your kneecaps up toward your thighs, so quads are active. Feel the entire backside of your body lengthen and open.
4. Do five to seven sets. D-Dog will eventually become a resting pose once you build the strength in your arms and get the alignment right.

Photo 4 -Mountain Pose

Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill

3. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) (see Photo 4)
Just as Cow/Cat Pose is a warm-up for Downward Dog, Mountain Pose will get you hot for Warrior—and all of yoga’s many standing asanas. So Mountain is a must-do…anytime, anywhere. “You can do Mountain while waiting for the bus,” Young says, “and instead of being negative about the wait, you bring balance and awareness into it.”

1. Standing straight with your arms at your side and your palms facing forward, come up onto tippy-toes. Lift you toes off the mat and spread them wide, then lower them down, one by one, beginning with the baby. Feel your weight distributed evenly on both soles of your feet. Send roots down to the earth’s core; send energy up your legs.
2. Once you feel grounded down, begin to grow tall, reaching the crown of your head up to the sky. Drop your tail down, lengthening the lower back. Make sure your palms are faced forward so there is an uplifted feeling across the front of the chest. Slide the shoulder blades down your back. Relax your face.
3. Do six to nine sets. There should be a whole lot of effortless space between your head and your feet in this pose. You are exerting effort, but your body should not be tense. Note the difference between effort and tension.

Photo 5 – Warrior II Pose

Photo Credit: Kevin Caudill

4. Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II) (see Photo 5)
Not just any old grunt, this warrior is an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva the Destroyer, who, with his 1,000 heads, eyes, and feet, wearing tiger and breathing fire, may seem a bit much before your first coffee. Don’t panic: The spin is spiritual, as in making war on delusion and desire, the source of human suffering. But feel free to substitute your boss or ex-boyfriend as you stretch and strengthen in this pose.

1. Stand in Tadasana. Step your right foot back three or four feet and turn your right toes in at a 45-degree angle. The left foot is pointing straight ahead, heel aligned with the arch of your right foot.
2. Root your back foot into the floor, sending energy down that leg into the foot, strong back leg. Inhale, take the arms out to your sides in a T-shape, with the palms facing down. Gaze out over your front fingertips. You are gazing off into the horizon, ready for whatever may lay ahead in your day.
3. Exhale, bend the front knee. Make sure the knee is directly over the ankle. Your intention is to have the front thigh parallel to the floor. It may not happen, but that’s your intention, and sometimes the mental intention behind an action is more important than the action itself.
4. Reach through the middle finger of each hand and keep your torso right in the middle. Lengthen the inseam of your front thigh so the knee does not track inward. Tuck your tail in slightly. Lift the front side of your body (your heart) and allow your shoulder blades to melt down your back.
5. Hold Warrior pose for six to nine breaths. Come out carefully, inhaling and staying balanced as you straighten your front knee. Now, do it again, same steps, other side. Do each pair five to seven times.

Before hitting the shower, just sit for a minute, concentrating on the rhythm of your lungs breathing and your heart beating. That’s you, babe, your divine spark of life. Namaste.

Walter Armstrong is a freelance writer and editor in New York who served as the editor-in-chief of POZ magazine for six years. Armstrong has also worked at Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, Us, GQ, OutWeek and numerous other magazines.


Medical evidence on marijuana blows both ways

June 4, 2009

Medical Evidence On Marijuana Blows Both Ways
Legalization debate is waging in America once again, but what does the research say?

By Sam McManis

+ Enlarge This image
A customer holds up marijuana bought from a San Francisco, California medical marijuana dispensary in this February 2006 file photo. –McClatchy Newspapers
+ Enlarge This image
Medical evidence on marijuana blows both ways –Bloomberg

Sparked anew by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call for the state to study the legalization of marijuana, both sides in the smoldering pot debate point to research to bolster their positions.Such recitation of conflicting marijuana studies can be manipulated and selected buffet-style to serve whatever political and health agenda is being touted.

Even governmental findings can be contradictory. In 1999, for instance, the Office of National Drug Control Policy asked the Institute of Medicine to review evidence. The institute found that, “except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications.”

Yet in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that marijuana has no health benefits and has known and proven harms. It is classified a Schedule 1 drug – the highest risk of addiction – in the Controlled Substances Act.

Wading through the medical literature, though, makes those conclusions less cut and dried.

“When I was a resident in Kaiser in San Francisco in 1978, I gave a lecture to physicians on marijuana, and I remember my conclusion at that time was that you can find in the literature whatever you were looking for,” says Dr. Donald Abrams, a University of California, San Francisco, oncologist and leading medical marijuana researcher. “‘Marijuana is good for asthma.”Marijuana’s bad for asthma.”Marijuana causes schizophrenia.”Marijuana (decreases) schizophrenia.’ And, the evidence is still like that.”

There are many factors, of course. As noted by UCLA pulmonologist Dr. Donald Tashkin, who has studied marijuana’s effects on the lungs for three decades, “That’s just the nature of medical science. You have to deal with variability. The population studied may be different or the methods used to study may differ.”

Yet when the arguments for legalization of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, are put forth, solid medical science often gets clouded in an ideological haze.

“Although we like to say we separate politics from science, with medical marijuana, that’s really difficult,” Abrams says. “It depends on who does the study, where it’s published and their agenda.”

Bearing in mind those caveats, here is a look at the research on marijuana’s effect in areas critical to health.


UCLA’s Tashkin studied heavy marijuana smokers to determine whether the use led to increased risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. He hypothesized that there would be a definitive link between cancer and marijuana smoking, but the results proved otherwise.

“What we found instead was no association and even a suggestion of some protective effect,” says Tashkin, whose research was the largest case-control study ever conducted. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Tobacco smokers in the study had as much as a 21-fold increase in lung cancer risk. Cigarette smokers, too, developed COPD more often in the study, and researchers found that marijuana did not impair lung function.

Tashkin, supported by other research, concluded that the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has an “anti-tumoral effect” in which “cells die earlier before they age enough to develop mutations that might lead to lung cancer.”

However, the smoke from marijuana did swell the airways and lead to a greater risk of chronic bronchitis.

“Early on, when our research appeared as if there would be a negative impact on lung health, I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects,” Tashkin says. “But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don’t think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.”

Cognitive function

A 2006 study in the journal Neurology found that speed of thinking, attention and verbal fluency were affected as much as 70 percent by long-term heavy use (four or more joints per week).

But a 2003 review of literature in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society found that marijuana smoking had a “small effect” on memory in longtime users.

However, users had no lasting effects in reaction time, attention or verbal function. “Surprisingly, we saw very little evidence of deleterious effects,” Dr. Igor Grant, researcher at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, said in a statement.

A 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that heavy users did worse on recall memory tests. A 2006 study in Greece showed users had slower mental-processing speed than the control group. Then again, a 2007 study at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that students who smoked marijuana had better grades than those who used only tobacco or those who did not smoke any substance.

In terms of brain development, a 2000 study in the Journal of Addictive Diseases found changes in brain structure in those who started using marijuana before age 17 but not in those who started at an older age. A 2009 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia study used brain imaging to show that heavy adolescent users are more likely to have disrupted brain development in regions involving memory, attention, decision making and language. But a 2008 Ohio State University study found that marijuana can reduce brain inflammation and perhaps reduce memory impairment that could delay Alzheimer’s disease.


Yes, there is an increased risk in psychotic behaviour and long-term risk of mental illness from marijuana use, according to a 2007 review of literature commissioned by Great Britain’s Department of Health and published in the Lancet.

But the risk is small, because the risk of developing psychosis in the general population is 3 percent over a lifetime and rises to 5 percent for marijuana users, lead researcher Stanley Zammit told the Los Angeles Times. “So 95 percent of the people are not going to get psychotic, even if they smoke on a daily basis,” he told the paper.

In 2005, New Zealand researchers studied a group of people with a gene variant the researchers believe predisposes that group to developing psychosis. Those in the group who smoked marijuana as teens had a tenfold increase in risk of psychosis than those who abstained.


A study published in 2001 in the American Journal of Psychiatry followed nearly 2,000 adults over 15 years. It found that marijuana users who had no symptoms of depression at the start were four times more likely than non-users of developing symptoms during that time frame.

In 2008, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that early marijuana use could increase the likelihood of mental illness by as much as 40 percent later in life.

However, researchers at McGill University in Montreal in 2007 reported in the Journal of Neuroscience that THC in low doses actually serves as an antidepressant similar to Prozac, producing serotonin. But at higher doses, they found it could lead to depression and psychotic episodes.

Source: Taiwan News

Top Anti-Drug Researcher Changes His Mind, Says Legalize Marijuana

June 4, 2009

Top Anti-Drug Researcher Changes His Mind, Says Legalize Marijuana

Posted in Chronicle Blog by Scott Morgan on Wed, 06/03/2009 – 9:52pm

For 30 years, Donald Tashkin has studied the effects of marijuana on lung function. His work has been funded by the vehemently anti-marijuana National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has long sought to demonstrate that marijuana causes lung cancer. After 3 decades of anti-drug research, here’s what Tashkin has to say about marijuana laws:

“Early on, when our research appeared as if there would be a negative impact on lung health, I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects,” Tashkin says. “But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don’t think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.” [McClatchy]

We’ve been told a thousand times that marijuana destroys your lungs, that it’s 5 times worse than cigarettes, and on and on. Yet here is Donald Tashkin, literally the top expert in the world when it comes to marijuana and lung health, telling us it’s time to legalize marijuana. His views are shaped not by ideology, but rather by the 30 years he spent studying the issue. He didn’t expect the science to come out in favor of marijuana, but that’s what happened and he’s willing to admit it.

Here’s the study that really turned things around:

UCLA’s Tashkin studied heavy marijuana smokers to determine whether the use led to increased risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. He hypothesized that there would be a definitive link between cancer and marijuana smoking, but the results proved otherwise.”What we found instead was no association and even a suggestion of some protective effect,” says Tashkin, whose research was the largest case-control study ever conducted.

Prejudice against marijuana and smoking in general runs so deep for many people that it just seems inconceivable that marijuana could actually reduce the risk of lung cancer. But that’s what the data shows and it not only demolishes a major tenet of popular anti-pot propaganda, but also points towards a potentially groundbreaking opportunity to develop cancer cures through marijuana research.

Over and over again, all the bad things we’ve been told about marijuana are revealed to be not only false, but often the precise opposite of the truth. So the next time someone tells you that marijuana is worse for your lungs than cigarettes, you might want to mention that the world’s leading expert on that subject happens to be a supporter of legalization.

Brain Fog

June 2, 2009

Brain Fog
By Kristy Bassett

Brain fog is possibly one of the most frustrating symptoms I have, not being able to think clearly can lead to major problems. It can not only be embarrassing not being able to think clearly, it can be dangerous.

The first thing to learn when you suffer brain fog is to never participate in any activities where you could be a danger to yourself or to others while it’s there. For me this has meant avoiding cooking and driving when the brain fog is a problem, this may be unavoidable at times, but where possible stick to this rule!

So what can be done? Unfortunately there are no miracle cures to lift the fog, but it can be managed. It’s worth investigating what is causing the fog in the first place.
Possible causes:

  • poor sleep
  • autoimmune disorders
  • hormonal imbalance
  • chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia
  • pain medication or the pain itself
  • allergies
  • iron deficiency and other nutritional deficiencies
  • blood sugar drops
  • dehydration
  • If you are able to pinpoint the cause, it may be possible to treat it simply. For others, the cause may not yet be known, or if it is known there may not be any more that can be done about it.

    Managing Brain Fog:

  • Try to avoid activities that are beyond your capacity, if possible rest is advisable
  • Caffeine: If there is no choice but to be able to function, it is the one time where stimulants such as tea or coffee may be a good idea to get through. This shouldn’t be a routine, but can be a crutch if necessary. Remember that once the caffeine has worn off you will likely feel worse than you did before the caffeine consumption. Warning: regular caffeine consumption is not recommended for those with fatigue.
  • Supplements: MAY help if there is a deficiency to improve energy: the most beneficial to energy are B vitamins, iron and coq10.
  • Manage your pain: (if this is the reason) as well as you can
  • Make notes as reminders: if you have to remember a lot of things in a day, it may be handy to write a list on a notepad to carry around with you, so things can be ticked off and not missed
  • Set reminders: this can be in a calendar, or diary, or through a computer program, whatever is going to be something you check often. Reminders can be for events such as a birthday, or when a bill is due as an example.
  • Take regular time outs: even if you are busy, it’s possible to take 5mins to shut your eyes, or do some stretches. This can help clear your head and stay focused; if your mind isn’t well focused the last thing you want is to overwhelm it.
  • Be sensible with your activities: Finally tackling some great written work may not be the best idea at these times, reading can be a good idea, but keep it something you can easily focus on, don’t add to frustrations just because you’ve always wondered if Dickens really is that good.
  • Work when you’re at your best: If it’s possible, try and work at the best time of day for you. Some people may find that the brain fog is worse earlier or later in the day.
  • Eat regular meals: avoid high sugar meals when you eat. A sugar spike means your sugar will drop. You don’t have to be diabetic to have sugar spikes and drops.
  • Avoid known allergens: both environmental and food allergies.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid chemical exposure: If you are chemical sensitive, be sure to avoid chemical exposures from creams, cleaning products, etc. Those with chemical sensitivities may find exposure triggers brain fog
  • Open a window if in the car: I cannot actually explain this, but even being a passenger in a car has been a trigger for brain fog for me personally, opening the window a touch can help this.
  • Deep breathing: It could help to clear your head just to do some simple deep breathing, it helps to swing your arms above your head as you breath in, and slowly lower them as you breath out, the action will help open the diaphragm and allow for deeper breathing.
  • Exercise: This recommendation comes with a warning, for some people with certain conditions this could be a very bad idea. If the fog is a side effect of extreme fatigue, physical activity could make it worse, in these cases rest is what’s needed. For others a short walk may clear the head.
  • It may be helpful to keep a diary; this is helpful to monitor any symptoms. Keeping a record of when the brain fog occurs can help identify possible triggers. It also allows you to identify what makes it worse and what makes it better. A little trial and error of techniques to manage it such as those mentioned above will be needed to find what works best for you.

    Source: The Recovery Room –

    My own comments:I agree with most of What Kristy has said..

    Pace yourself at all times, and rest as needed. Rest is taking at least fifteen minutes to relax, preferably laying down with your eyes closed, otherwise you are not truly giving your body a break.

    Water is awesome – it helps clean the toxins out of your body, a natural flush so to speak. 8- 8oz glasses of water. Myself I can stomach that much straight water.. I half juice with water when I can.. Makes it easier.. But not too much cuz juice can be high in sugar & calories.. An alternative to crystal light or other 0 Calorie powder if you can tolerate the sugar substitute.

    Skip the caffeine.. In addition to the crashes & everything Kristy mentions there is also the fact that if you drink too late (& how late is too late depends on the caffeine & sugar content) it will keep you up and be detrimental to your sleep..

    Eating regularly is my biggest problem. The recommendation is three small meals a day with three snack in between.. This allows your sugar levels to be more consistent over the day that sparatic eating, as well as the simple 3 squares a day. You are also less likely to snack. If you are going to snack, try & make it veggies.. Keep pealed carrots & celery in the fridge and have a stock of fresh fruit around. I usually avoid raw veggies, ignore the fruit & go for cookies. I do find it easier to make salads at night with dinner than a 2nd veggie because I keep a greens salad mix in the fridge that is ready to go & you can add more if you want; cucumber, radish, pepper, apples, celery, or cheese are options here. Just a tip to make things a bit easier.

    Reminders are necessary for me.. We’ve tried also of different plans and tricks to help with this. We’ve used a white board. We’ve used an automated to-do list on the web. We’ve used an online calendar, as well as a local (on my pc) calendar – this helps keep my appointments organized as well as birthdays/anniversaries, but not daily stuff around the house. We tried post-its, and notebooks but I’d loose them or start a new book/list. I currently have a written to-do list that we re-evaluate daily or every other day to keep me on track, to adjust for pain & fatigue, and to prioritize tasks.

    Avoid allergens – I think this is a no brainer.. gets tested if you haven’t already. I have my environmental testing done.. need to get my food testing done.

    Exercise, in my opinion is necessary, despite what Kristy says. I try to do yoga & aqua fit regularly.. I agree that some are not able to do that much, so even a walk around the block, or one of those exercise videos specifically for Fibromites. I have one and it’s all based in a chair. There is also chair-based yoga in some areas that are available, usually for seniors.