Monday, April 30, 2007

Mindfulness meditation helps reduce pain.

Dr Lorimer Moseley, in his "How to Cope with pain" website interview, mentioned that mindfulness meditation is being used for pain management. In 2000, at a three week pain clinic, I learned mindfulness meditation. At the time I was of the opinion that when my distractions were taken away, nauseating pain was worse. If I'd know then what I know now I would have persisted and would have benefited. In particular it would have been good to know that there was already sound research which supported the use of mindfulness for pain.

This is one type of meditation, important because you develop an acceptance and an awareness of what is happening in the present. The "How to Cope with Pain" website (link to the left of this page under crps/rsd related articles), has short breathing exercises and guided imagery sessions. These are great and also help with pain management.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Black swans visited our area this morning.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

CRPS/RSD explained.

In my opinion it's a shitty diagnosis. Complex regional pain syndrome, formally known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, is the name given to a collection of symptoms the worst of which is continuing pain out of the ordinary for the event that caused it.

Abnormal changes in temperature, colour, sweating, hair and nail growth, in addition to ongoing pain set crps apart from other pain syndromes. The initiating event may be as simple as hitting your elbow. Light touch is unpleasant or painful, touch that might normally be painful is excessively so.

Early diagnosis and treatment usually results in a better outcome. In many sufferers pain persists for years. This blog is an attempt to remind myself about what works for me to help in relieving the pain and symptoms.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Growing in the light.
A shaft of sunlight in the rainforest attracted these insects.
Australian Brush Turkeys gather huge mounds of forest litter for their nests.
I loved the texture of these leaves.
Tambourine Botanic Gardens
Palms reaching for the sun at Mt Tambourine, Gold Coast hinterland.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


ANZAC (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) Day is the day we in Australia and New Zealand remember those who who fought and have fallen in times of war. On April 25th, 1915, we had our first major war time battle on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey.

"There's is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity."
Former Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Mr Paul Keating, at the Entombment of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, 1993

Today I honoured my father, uncles, father in law and husband who also served. Thank you.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What works for me to relieve pain and symptoms of crps/rsd.

As other sufferers know, symptoms can vary from day to day and throughout the day. As well as an overall plan to erode back the symptoms, I need to have strategies in place to help with the day to day problems.
Some of the things that help me are

  • mirrors (August archives photos)
  • essential oils (still experimenting but amazed so far)
  • breathing out twice as long as in (August) I now do it for a few minutes 5 times a day instaed of once for 15 minutes.
  • resperate machine could be used to control breathing(November)
  • distraction (September archives)
  • magnesium for muscle spasm (September)
  • fish/fish oil for inflamation (September)
  • beetroot for liver protection and antidepressant (September)
  • isometric exercises to reduce pain (September)
  • epson salts warm bath (September)
  • chili cream (capsaicin)
  • heat pack (September)
  • graduated repetition of movements (September)
  • pacing
  • move it or lose it
  • deflated ball gives a great massage (see photo Sept)
  • butterball bath bomb (Sept)
  • water relaxes, calms,slows and improves breathing, helps sleep (Sept)
  • Caring Doctors (Sept)
  • Letting go of worries and avoiding stress (Oct)
  • Actively seeking happiness (Oct)
  • I will take vitamin C if I must have surgery as a precaution. (Nov)
  • eat nutrient rich antioxidant foods. Eas smart. (Nov)
  • use Prantal powder for hyperhydrosis (Nov)
  • make a list what works for me as a quick reference. (Nov)
  • don't despare when I have flare up. Refer to the list. (Nov)
  • Doing the same movement in different ways to reinforce that "it's ok"
  • Following a dental procedure which works for me (Nov)
  • Changing thinking, not "what can be done for me" but "what I can do for myself" (Nov)
  • Eating smart - increasing antioxidants especially vitamin C in my diet. (January )
  • Eating smart - making sure I eat a variety of high antioxidant foods including vitamin C. (March 07)
  • Understanding that while it hurts it's not necessarilly harmful!!!

I am a sufferer not a professional. These things work for me about which I am very thankful. If you think something may help you check first with your treating practitioners.

Treatment for complex regional pain syndrome needs a wholistic approach.

Although I am having much relief using mirrror therapy, relying on mirror therapy alone for a cure would be naive. I'm reposting my list of what works for me. Resolving the pain is one part, dealing with any underlying mechanical issues is also important. I don't think I'd be having the few days of less pain between flare ups if I hadn't also increased my intake of antioxidants in my diet, especially vitamin C . I've modified my controlled breathing on the advice of my new doctor who does Intergrative medicine. Now I breathe out twice as long as in but do it for a few minutes at least 5 times throughout the day. It fits well with the little and often that applies to other things in my life and I've found helps.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Prior to December last year, I would swing from one flare up to another in a different place with no break. Indeed, before I started doing mirror therapy I was alarmed by the fact that I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in both legs, achillies tendonitis in both lega, morton's neuroma in my right foot, bursitis in both upper thighs, rotator cuff tendinitis in my left shoulder and tennis elbow in my right arm. I just was overwhelmed by all these diagnoses. I know I have some mechanical issues which I deal with by physical therapy and orthotics in my shoes. Dealing with the pain is great but where there are mechanical issues you must address those weaknesses by therapy. Mechanical issues can develop as a flow on from other things such as postural change and weakness from chronic pain.

In the book "Explain Pain" by Dr Lorimer Moseley and David Butler there is a very good explanation of what they call "smudging the neurotag". In chapter 4 they talk about a change to the outer cortex of the brain which they describe as "smudging" brain areas normally for specific body parts or functions. They say, "the more chronic pain becomes, the more advanced the changes in the brain become". However this change is known to be reversable.

I believe when I watch the mirror image of my pain free leg moving in a way that would be painful for my other leg, I am reinforcing the "It's OK" message and reducing the smudging in the brain. Over time I am in less and less pain. I notice less muscle spasm and sometimes can feel muscles relax. Where my back is concerned I keep doing the leg exercises in front of the mirror for short periods and several times a day until the whole left side settles and also the back. I didn't think I could stop my back burning. I thought it would only work with a side but over time the back is relieved as well. Today my back is burning. I have used the mirror three times today and will continue to do so. I speculate that if I had upper back pain that using an arm to exercise instead of a leg might work. I base this on the fact that from time to time I forget to do arm exercises to strengthen a weakness that causes rotator cuff tendonitis. When the shoulder flares up so does the whole left side. Watching my right arm exercise in the mirror over time takes away the whole left side pain. First the left leg improves and about the same time my left face settles. If you can picture a reduction in pain from top and bottom gradually reducing to the primary cause which is my shoulder.

This has been a bit long winded in explanation. Please ask if I have not explained this well.

Here I've raised my left leg out to the left. This movement is painful for my right leg. It is painful in the upper outer part of the right thigh consistent with bursitis. At the same time my lower back burns and is very painful. I repeat this leg out and down movement about 10 times in each session. I do the mirror exercise several times during each day. Not only does the leg pain settle but with repeated exercise using the mirror the burning back pain also goes. I find now that the time taken to relieve a flare up is less and I now have short periods of time between flare ups. If you go back and read my December archives, you'll see this has happened since December.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mirror therapy really works!

I do not use a mirror box because I didn't know about mirror boxes. I use a stand alone mirror (see photos August archives). I also use sliding wardrobe mirrors or a wall mirror I place on the floor. So long as I am able to place the mirror at right angles to my body and centered such that I can look in the mirror and see the image of one side of my body it works for me. I only move the pain free body part, eg leg, for s very short time. I keep the time short to prevent pain. I want the brain to register that I can move without pain.

David Butler, who wrote the book "Explain Pain" with Dr Lorimer Moseley, told me that there was every reason to trial mirror theraapy with a larger mirror as I am doing. David also said he thought that good therapists should also be using brain laterality techniques before and with mirroring.

If you have a physiotherapist who isn't familiar with mirror work they can access information and ask questions on a forum for therapists at the noigroup web site.

The mirror trick works. You may not feel any difference immediately but the more you do it the calmer things become. As far as the back goes, I use it for one sided flare ups and it has the added benefit of calming things over all. This is definitely the case. I have now had several short periods of greatly reduce pain including burning pain. There are now breaks between flare ups. This has not been the case for me for several years. I attribute this mostly to mirror therapy.

It costs me nothing. I do it anywhere there's a suitable mirror and it works for me.

Seek professional advice before trying something new.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hears looking at you.! Mirror therapy gains interest as a way to help pain sufferers.

By using a mirror image of a normal limb to convince the brain that everything is OK, V S Ramachandran, a United States neurologist, in 1998, managed to relieve phantom limb pain.

Since then research has shown that complex regional pain syndrome and other chronic pains can be relieved by looking at the mirror image of the corresponding painful body part.

In Australia there is a great deal of interest with mirror therapy becoming more widely accepted as treatment for chronic pain in particular for the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome.
In 2004 thirteen chronic CRPS1 patients were given two weeks each of a hand laterality recognition task, imagined hand movements and mirror therapy. The results upheld their hypothesis. Dr Moseley was involved in a much larger study in 2006 at Oxford University in the UK. Their conclusion was that Motor imagery using mirrors reduced pain and disability in patients with complex regional pain syndrome type I or phantom limb pain, but the mechanism, or mechanisms, of the effect are not clear.
Dr Lorimer Moseley and David Butler have written an excellent book which examines this novel approach to pain management, "Explain Pain". The Neuro-orthopeadic Institute of Australasia, NOI Group, was formed to support therapists here, in the USA and in Europe. If interested go to
the left of this blog and click on the link under crps/rsd related articles.

In the UK doctors, such as Dr Candy MacCabe of the University of Bath's School for Health, and Dr Ilan Lieberman, a Consultant doctor specialising in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia at the University Hospital of South Manchester in England, have been able to alleviate the pain of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome using a simple mirror box.
In 2003 D MacCabe first described the use of this therapy for CRPS [1]. She showed that mirror visual feedback (MVF) relieved pain significantly, and normalised temperature changes in the affected limb.

In the Nederlands a trial Treatment of Patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I with Mirror Therapy is being conducted with the aim to improve arm-hand function. The hypothesis of this study is that mirror therapy stimulates cortical representation of the upper extremity. The functionality of the upper extremity is expected improve more than with only conservative therapy.9-Sep-2005 - 7-Mar-2006

This 'cortical' model of pain suggests that the brain's image of the body can become faulty, resulting in a mismatch between the brain's movement control systems and its sensory systems, causing a person to experience pain when they move a particular hand, foot or limb.

Researchers believe that this kind of problem could be behind a host of pain-related disorders, such as complex regional pain syndrome and repetitive strain injury.

More good evidence for the use of mirror therapy to alleviate pain and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Reading leaves - the art of tea just for fun.

There is a new page today on my google group CRPS/RSD taking control.
Drink a leasurely cuppa and have your leaves read. This is just for fun and not to be taken seriously and fits well with my actively seeking happiness plan.

Other pages in the group include

You can visit our group by clicking on "visit" at th bottom of this page. You can join on the site or place your email in the box at the top of this page.

Please note his group is now regretably closed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ramachandran utube videos.

Ramachandran is the US Neurologist who first made a mirror box. He is a brilliant thinker so I requested a sample of videos. The lady in one of them just has the same surname. With this Google addition you can only request one word so I was lucky to get three of Dr V Ramachandra. I hope you find them interesting.

Next week I'll have a different set of videos.

Quinoa breakfast recipe. (for two)

Today I cooked quinoa for breakfast. I didn't have a recipe but it turned out quite delicious and very filling.
  • 2/3 cup quinoa and twice as much liquid. I used skim milk but milk and water or just water would do.
  • two good handfulls of dried fruit. I used my wolfberries and currents mix.
  • nuts and seeds. I usd walnuts and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce heat.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes, stiring occasionally. Mine did not catch in the pot.
  • Liquid should be completely absorbed.
  • Serve with more milk or yoghurt, fresh fruit or a little honey if desired.
Breakfast Quinoa.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Quinoa lunch recipe. (for two)

  • Put 2/3 cup quinoa in a saucepan with double the amount of water or stock.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce heat.
  • Cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes by which time the water will be absorbed.
  • Chop selectiion of vegies, garlic, onion & ginger. I used corn, capsician, beans, carrot.
  • Fry onion, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil.
  • Add vegies and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add vegies to quinoa and serve.
I also added meat which today was ham. Chicken or any meat would work well.

This was delicious and very quick and easy to prepare. It was also very satisfying probably due to the high protein content of quinoa.

Quinoa for lunch today.
Quinoa grain.
It cost
$7.95 for 500grams but I'll get at least four meals for two people from this.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Quinoa super food is a great addition to my "eat smart" plan.

Quinoa is fast now considered to be a super grain. This is partly because it has higher protein than any other grain and that protein is a complete protein. This mans that it possesses all nine essential amino acids with a good amount of lysine, needed for tissue growth and repair. It contains manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous all health building nutrients.

Manganese and copper "serve as cofactors for the superoxide dismutase enzyme. Superoxide dismutase is an antioxidant that helps to protect the mitochondria from oxidative damage created during energy production as well as guard other cells, such as red blood cells, from injury caused by free radicals", WHfoods website informs us.

In grains phytonutriients are found largely in bound form that is they "are attached to the walls of plant cells and must be released by intestinal bacteria during digestion before they can be absorbed."

Because different plant foods contain different phytochemicals which are needed by different tissues and organs etc, it is wisest to consume a wide range off these. tells us that Dr Liu, a researcher, suggets "what the body needs to ward off disease is this synergistic effect - this teamwork - that is produced by eating a wide variety of plant foods, including whole grains."

Usually considered a grain quinoa is actually the seed of a plan related to spinach and beets.

So low in gluten that it is suitable for gluten free diets, the concentrated nutrient potential of quinoa truely makes it a super food and definitely part of my "eat smart" plan.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Overcast and windy but still beautiful.
Click on this to see the largest pod of dolphins we've seen yet at Cape Byron. There were up to 50 in this pod with a small shark up ahead of them. They were displaying and rolling over and were quite a sight to see. Unfortunately it was overcast and my camera is only 3.2 mega pixels and 3x magnification but you can get the idea of how many there were.
Growers' market foods today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New bloom in our garden.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Seeking professional advice is always best.

I am not an expert. I'm looking at ways of doing what I do now but doing it more wisely in my opinion. For this reason I've been on a quest to find a way of eating smart.

What I post here is what I've decided to do for myself. It is always wise to seek advice before trying something new. Each of us has our own health issues and what suits one may not suit another.

There is a wealth of information available. In my opinion one of the most sensible, easily understood and helpful sites is the World's Healthist Foods site.
You won't find all foods there but you will find information on natural, healthy foods.

If interested go to the left of this blog and click on the link under "articles of interest".

A whole grain of truth.

Whole grains are much more than just added fibre in our diet. Research now tells us that the benefit is in the "package" of nutrients (sound familiar).

Professor Slavin from Minnesota University is reported by as saying that "the individual components of whole grains have an additive and synergistic effect."

This means that the combined nutrient components in whole grains is greater than the sum of the individual component parts. Or to put it simply 1+1 >2 (one plus one is greater than two).

So what are some whole grains?
They are the entire grain seed of a plant. Also known as the kernel, it is made up of three key parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

Whole wheat, whole oats/oatmeal, whole-grain corn, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, whole-grain barley, wild rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa, and sorghum are the more common grains.
Less well known are amaranth, emmer, farro, grano (lightly pearled wheat), spelt, and wheat berries. Spelt is is popular now because of it's higher protein and nutrient content.

Stone-ground corn and polenta have the germ intact so are closest to the whole grain in any ground cornmeal. You can even get whole grain couscous.

Quinoa, not really a grain but considered as one, is another ancient grain which is considered to be almost a wonder food as it contains complete proteine. A friend told me that she uses quinoa instead of couscous.

Soon I'll be posting about specific whole grains and why it is preferable to eat them over refined.
Tea for two.

Keeping it simple.

Well I've decided that if I'm going to eat smart it's going to have to be simple and do able and also enjoyable. I won't stick at something if I don't enjoy it.

We've all heard of the health benefits of tea. Flavonoids are a special group of antioxidant phytochemicals found in black and green tea and adding milk doesn't alter the benefit.

It is worth being aware that drinking tea with a meal interfers with the iron intake from foods of plant origin so it is probably better to drink tea between meals.

I've decided that some traditions are worth upholding. For me the tradition of taking tea and enjoying the experience of tea is worth cultivating. So to do this I've searched for a two cup tea pot that pours without dribbling. I have a favourite cup (or two) and a small jug for milk.

I make tea and find a comfortable place to pour and sip and enjoy. I love company and a cuppa is great shared.

I'm lucky that our local tea is lower in caffeine so I can enjoy without problems. I actually think the enjoyable experience of tea for me out weighs the negative impact on pain of the caffeine.

Red & yellow & pink and green, purple & orange & blue - rainbow foods.

I've thought a lot about this and come to the conclusion that to consume a diet rich in antioxidants for me it's best to think about colour and variety.

If, for example, I'm making a snack box of dried fruits, nuts and seeds, I'll put about the same quantity of as many varieties as I have to hand. Then from the container I take a mix of any amount I want when I want it. That way I know I'm eating a good range of antioxidants in the unique packages nature intended.

In the same way I roughly cut a selection of fruits trying to have a mix of colours. When I shop I now choose a selection of different fruits rather than a bag of oranges or a big bunch of grapes.

Why colours?

Reds contain lycopene and anthocyanims.
- red apples, strawberries, bets, red potatoes, tomatoes.

Yellow/orange contain varying amounts of antioxidants eg vitamin C, carotinoids, bioflavonoids.
- appricots, mangoes, oranges, sweet potatoes & carrots.

Blue/purple contain phytochemicals.
- blueberries, eggplant, dark grapes, plums & rasins.

Greens contain antioxidants lutein & indoles.
- avocadoes, green apples, green grapes, kiwifruit, peas & broccoli.

Whites contain phytochemicals.
I've found that I have to chew both the fresh mix and dried fruit and nuts well. I now take my time to eat and take pleasure from the eating.

Fresh & dried fruit, nuts & seeds are delicious with no/low fat yoghurt.
Each day I roughly cut a mix of fresh seasonal fruit and snack throughout the day.

A mix of antioxidant rich foods to snack on throughout the day - dried fruits.

Wolfberries (Goji Berries)

Wolfberries contain 19 types of amino acids, 11 essential and 22 trace minerals, 6 essential vitamins including B2 and C (as much as oranges), 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharides, 5 fatty acids, 5 cariote, phytosterols, and numerous phenols associated with antioxidant properties.


Prunes contain phenols which are very effective demolishers of the dangerous free radical superoxide anion.
Prunes help prevent oxygen based damage to fats by their vitamin A (beta carotine) content.
Potassium found in prunes is good for both heart and bone health.
Prunes are a good source of fibre and perhaps because of their vitamin C content help the absorption of iron.

There are some extrordinary claims made about wolfberries but that aside ther is no doubting their overall nutrient value.

Black currants

Black currrants have exceptional neutritional value. They contain several times higher amounts of potassium, iron, vitamin C (4 times that of oranges by weight), organic acids and plant phenolic compounds than other common fruit.
Black currants contain more calcium and iron than other fruits.
Seeds are righ in both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
A real power food.


Dates are rich in fibre, niacin and potassium and contain iron and are a good source of antioxidants although some of their antioxidant properties are lost in the drying process.
They are a great energy source but are high in kilojules so are a small part of the nutrient balance.

This mix will change according to what I can affordably buy and will be influenced by my findings on high antioxidant foods.

A mix of antioxidant rich foods to snack on throughout the day - nuts in the mix.

3 brazil nuts

Three brazil nuts is the body's total daily allowance of selenium, a powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin E & selenium work synergistically in brazil nuts. They also contain glutamine, glutamic acid & arginine & amino acids cystoine & methionne.


Walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system.
They are a source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and among other benefits are anti inflammatory, aid brain function and help with stress.


Almonds contain the antioxidant of Vitamin E and monosaturated fats.
A quarter of a cup of almonds contains 99mg of magnesium which improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Almonds contain potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles.
Flavonoids is another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function.
The flavonoids found in almond skins team up with the vitamin E found in their meat to more than double the antioxidant punch either delivers when administered separately. (shown by a study published in the Journal of Nutrition)

Pecan nuts

Pecans, walnuts and chestnuts have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts.
Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.
Pecans are also a natural, high-quality source of protein that contain very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol.

These nuts I've thrown into the mix for now.

I am grateful for to George Mateljin Foundation, The World's Healthiest Foods Organisation especially for their help in providing information. I encourage you to visit their interactive website. Please go to "articles of interest" to the left of this blog and click on the link.

I am also very grateful for the encouragement and support of dietition, Amanda Clark.
Each day I fill a small container with a mixture of dried fruits and nuts.

Food provides the best and safest way to consume nutrients in

The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported findings of Dutch research into the effect of antioxidant supplements on mortality from 68 randomized trials with 232 606 participants. It was found that beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E, increased mortality.

Please notice that at present vitamin C is considered safe as it's water soluable. Even so, the best and safest way to get nutrients such as antioxidants, I believe, is through food.
My reasoning is that food comes in unique packages which provide the right combination of nutrients for the optimum use by the body.

I am personally convinced that increasing antioxidants in diet could help us with crps. My reasoning is that crps is stressful (not to mention all the other stressors in our lives). Stress, whether from pain, environmental or emotional causes, makes us oxidize. Oxidation is normal but too much produces excessive amounts of free radicals. Some free radicals cause inflamation (one problem with crps). Antioxidants demolish free radicals.

Antioxidants are thought to be most effective when consumed together.
The best way to go is to get a range of free radicals and the very best way to get them is through food. Just how to improve diet to increase antioxidant intake is what I'm working on at present.

Very briefly

  • Smart eaters consume all the carotinoids. Carotenoids create the colour in plants.Reds & yellows signifiy immune boosting carotinoids.
  • We are advised that a recommended healthy diet contains 5 veg & 2 fruit of mixed colours, 40%of diet fruit & veg, 500gm of fruit & veg daily.This of course depends on whether you have fresh or dried etc.
  • Each day eat one of each colour group, red, orange, yellow, blue/purple and white.
  • Mix colours in every meal but always try to include green and orange. The deeper the colour the higher nutrient value.
Canned or frozen fruit and veg are, I think, just as nutritious as fresh. (check additives eg sugar & salt)

I personally increase the vitimin C foods when I have acute flare ups.

So far research has been done proving vitamin C can prevent crps from developing from surgery etc. See previous posts. I do not know of any research showing vitamin C as a treatment for crps but I have seen it suggested in light of its preventative qualities. To me it makes sense that extra vitamin C together with other antioxidants would be helpful if only in controlling inflamation. This is my personal opinion, not a recommendation. I do not offer this as advice.

I've nearly finished putting together my thoughts and plan about "eating smart" and will post more soon.

Eating food with a high Oxygen Radical Absorbancy (ORAC) s

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a standardized test adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to measure the Total Antioxidant Potency of foods and nutritional supplements.

This ORAC score reflects the speed and strength of the antioxidant to do its job in demolishing free radicals.
ORAC is a way to measure how many oxygen radicals a specific food can absorb or demolish.
The more oxygen radicals a food can absorb, the higher its ORAC score.

In general foods with a high ORAC rating are colourful, bright reds, greens, oranges, blues, purples, yellows, and oranges eg strawberries, prunes, spinach, blueberries, eggplant, carrots and oranges.

I plan to consider this ORAC score as well as amounts of vitamin C in my planning what of foods are best to consume to "eat smart" for a person with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

For today I just plan to eat more colour food each day in a range of fruits and vegetables.

Goji or Wolfberries

I bought these dried Goji berries locally yesterday. About 2 tablespoons cost A$3.00.
Asian food stores, I accidently discovered, sell "wolf berries" for less than half the price of some other stores.

Prompt reply and very helpful advice from WHFoods in the US.

A big thank you to George Mateljan and collegues at WHFoods. They provided the information I was seeking and went further giving me links which will allow me to find out further information myself. I highly recommend a visit to their excellent site at

Eating smart - putting plans into action.

Recently I spent time with a dedicated dietition. I told her about my plan to increase antioxidants, in particular vitamin C, in my diet. We both discovered that it isn't easy to find the information I want but I've come home with a list of foods in serving size stating the amount of vitamin C, and also giving mg of vitamin C per 100mg of food.

This list contained. many processed food or cooked food. I would have liked more, and more varied fresh food. However it's a beginning.

Later the dietitian emailed me about recent research listing over 1000 common foods and their antioxidant values. This is what I'm after.

Now I need to know how to get a copy of the results of this study so that I can look at what I do now and how I can adapt what I already do so that I can have a more nutrient rich diet. That's what I'm working on now.

Rainbow's easy prune recipe

Rainbow from the US posted a comment with this great recipe for prunes using a slow cooker or crockpot. I'm going to collect the ingredients and give it a go. Thanks Rainbow.

List of Ingredients
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup honey (clover)
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup oil
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 Cup chopped Pecans (unsalted)
1/2 cup dried raisins
1/2 cup chopped SUNSWEET DRIED prunes

Combine all ingredients except cranberries/raisins and dates in the crock-pot. Cook on LOW with lid slightly ajar for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool and add fruit. Store in airtight jars. Use within 1 to 2 weeks. Makes about 6 cups.

I stored in vacuum sealed Food saver bags

I'll take a photo when I make it and post it here.

Antioxidants demolish free radicals - another look at eating smart.

I mentioned recently that I'm seeking a dietition's advice to discover what foods I need to eat to increase my antioxidant intake, in particular vitamin C. Other antioxidants are also important. Phenols, unique phyto neutrients found in prunes are damage preventing substances effective in neutralizing a particularly dangerous oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical. As an excellent source of beta carotene, prunes help prevent oxygen based damage to fats. As well as these benefits, potassium in prunes lowers blood pressure and fibre helps to normalize blood sugar.
Sunsweet Dry Fruits note that a recent study from Tufts University in Boston "ranked the antioxidant value of commonly eaten fruits and vegetables using an analysis called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity). Prunes topped the list with more than twice the antioxidant capacity as other high-scoring fruits such as blueberries and rasins."
So you see there are compelling reasons to have a few prunes for breakfast. I'm thinking stewed prunes and custard for dinner tonight. has heaps of information and recipes.

Date & Almond Tart

For pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
For Filling
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 7 tbsp sugar (I use 1/2 cup honey)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • dates
Preheat oven to 200degrees C/400degress F.
Place a large flat baking sheet in the oven to get hot.
  • sift flour
  • add butter and work to crumb texture
  • add egg & itbsp cold water
  • work to smooth dough
  • roll our and line 20cm tart, pie or quich dish
  • prick pastry and chill
  • cream butter & sugar
  • add beaten egg
  • stir in ground almonds & flour
  • mix well
  • spread into pastry case
  • arrange dates and press down slightly
  • place dish on hot baking sheet and bake for 10-15 mins
  • reduce heat to 180 degreesC/350 degrees F
  • cook a further 15-20 mins till brown on top

Phytochemicals in plants are believed to have greater antioxidant effects than vitamins or minerals.

Better health Victorian Government article says "phytochemicals found in plants and zoochemicals found in animal products are believed to have greater antioxidant effects than either vitamins or minerals." Health benefits of antioxidants include lycopenes in tomatoes which may make men less likely to develop prostate cancer and lutein in spinach and corn linked to a reduction in incidence of eye lens degeneration.

Tonight I'm making my variation of Michelle Trute's "Spinach & Polenta Slice"
Her recipe books are fantastic!

Spray a pan with olive oil. Add 4 chopped shallots 2 - 3 cloves garlic and a chopped bunch of spinach and cook with the lid on until soft. Add 1 tbsp plain flour (I use wholemeal.) and 3 - 4 tbsp polenta and mix in. Add 1 - 1 1/2 cups skim milk and stir till thickens. Take off the heat and add 3- 4 beaten eggs. Line a slice pan with baking paper so that it is higher than the sides. (makes it easier to lift out)Sprinkle the top with grated mozarella cheese and bake at about 180 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes.
My husband says "feed the man meat" so we'll have buffalo sausages as well.

I'm making a greek salad with lots of ripe tomatoes, olives and fetta and having paw paw from our tree for dessert.

Our antioxidant rich meal has
  • Lutein in spinach and polenta
  • Allium sulpha compounds in spring onions and garlic
  • Lycopene in tomatoes
  • Cryptoxanthins in red capsicum
  • Zinc, copper and zoochemicals in buffalo sausages
  • Beta caroteine in pawpaw.

Whole grain wheat contains powerful phytoneutrient antioxidants

Wheat is the most important cereal crop in the world and in its natural unrefined state, features a host of important nutrients. Dr R H Liu of Cornell University, New York, reported that, "whole wheat contains many powerful phytonutrients. Bound phytochemicals were the major contributors to the total antioxidant activity: 90% in wheat, 87% in corn, 71% in rice, and 58% in oats. Bound phytochemicals could survive stomach and intestinal digestion to reach the colon. This may partly explain the mechanism of grain consumption in the prevention of colon cancer, other digestive cancers, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, which is supported by epidemiological studies."

To make my fruit and nut bread I add a heaped tsp of mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon to the flour before kneading. I also add an extra 1/2tsp dried yeast. I knead a cup of macadama nuts (or pecan etc), quartered figs and appricots and raisin or sultanas (about 1 1/2 cups in total) into the dough after dividing in two.
This makes a delicious nutty, spicy, chunks of fruit bread.

My daughter's hearty reds and yellows soup.

This is delicious soup and its reds and yellows make it high in antioxidants.

Chop all vegies
  • sweet potato, carrots, mushrooms, onions (red instead of white), garlic (lots and lots), ginger, 2 tins tomatoes, tins white beans e.g. lima, butter beans, chickpeas also good.
About a teaspoon of each spice
  • cummin, paprika, tumeric, mixed herbs
Vegie stock (about 1 litre)

Cook onions, garlic and ginger together with olive oil until onion softens and browns (best over a low heat).
Add all vegies, and tins of tomatoes, and stock, and beans, and boil soup until all vegies have softened. (takes about 15-20 minues.)
This should be a very thick chunky soup. There should be a strong tomato/ cummin taste.
Alternative - when you take it off the boil, add the juice of 1 small lemon, and coriander garnish to serve.
When my daughter cooks all measurements are approximations.

I believe that peas, lentils, and chickpeas contain antioxidants such as Vitamins A and C which bind with and destroy free radicals. Legumes contain phytochemicals. Plants protect themselves using these phytochemicals. The body also uses phytochemicals to fend off disease.
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