Saturday, November 5, 2011


Piano voor aan bed gebonden zieken / Piano for the bedridden
Greetings and salutations! How was your Halloween? Mine gave me pneumonia. And while we have much to discuss (The Fair, cultural appropriation, the fact that Americans must be a nation of giant children as it is impossible to find cough medicine above natural remedy strength that isn't laden with high fructose corn syrup...), but for now I'd just like to ask a few health-related questions from ya'll.

Life's Whirlpool (cinema1915)
As some of you may remember, last spring I suffered from a number of unexplained and ephemeral health problems, at first seemingly unrelated; ranging from constant colds, to infections, to some more disturbing afflictions, one after another.

Since at the time we had neither money, nor health insurance, I made do with books and home remedies, as well as little (a lot of, actually) help from our friends, mostly in the form of massage, Jin Shin and herbal remedies.

For each ailment, I found a remedy. The individual problems though, appeared part of a bigger whole; as soon as one was extinguished, another appeared. In addition to all the different sicknesses I was constantly exhausted for no apparent reason.
Golden Wedding celebrations at the Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen
Eventually I figured that most likely my immune system was weakened by an excess of candida, something I have a propensity towards, as well as some good old-fashioned stress. I took more time to meditate and exercise, gave up all sugar, white flour and caffeine and adhered to my otherwise already healthy food habits. For a time the symptoms all but disappeared. 'Till now that is.
Kerst in sanatorium
I know, I know, thanks to the miracle of my husband's fancy new medical insurance there's a diagnosis this time: pneumonia, right? But I'm not convinced. I'm not doubting that I have it, but in addition to it, I have a bunch of other issues attacking my body. First I had something like the common cold, passed onto me by C., only when he got better, I got worse. Much, much worse.

In addition to lung and respiratory troubles, have an eye-infection in both eyes, an outbreak of eczema up and down my arms, and six cold sores in and around my mouth. "Not to worry." the doctor said, "The antibiotics will take care of all that."
Eerste Wereldoorlog, vluchtelingen
Antibiotics, however, are one of the greatest promoters of yeast in the body. In addition to killing whatever bacteria is causing what ails you, they have a nasty habit of destroying all the friendly bacteria as well, after which yeast is free to roam. And while they would take care of the pneumonia, they would not take care of how I got the pneumonia in the first place. In fact, they would leave my already compromised immune system even more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.

So, my question for you (in case you were wondering what all this was leading towards) is whether you guys have any ideas for strengthening one's immune system? Tried and true remedies? Insights on fighting candida? How do you keep healthy? And most importantly: how the hell do you get rid of cold sores?!?!? I don't ever remember having them for more than a few days, or more than one at a time.

I can tell you though, that the best remedy (in the absence of breast milk, apparently) for an eye infection is ordinary black tea, diluted and used like eye drops.
Woman in cell, playing solitaire
And not to worry, "traditional" medicine enthusiasts, if worst comes to worst, I'll totally down those antibiotics. I can scarcely take another week of the boredom that is laying in bed, mentally dull and dripping with snot. In the mean time, I'm off to pretend vitamin C pills are Halloween candies and get messed up on controlled substances also known as cough syrup.

I hope to return with a more riveting and less self-involved topic and look forward to any and all health-related advice you have to give. At the very least you should have the decency to entertain me with heart-wrenching tales about your own sickbed adventures.



  1. Ugh, you poor thing! So sorry to hear you've been dealing with all this, what a nightmare. Many years ago I had a horrendous cold sore outbreak, like sores all over my lips (which became crazy swollen)and in my mouth too. They lasted for weeks. One of the worst experiences EVER. Anyway, this stuff ( in my experience, works miracles on cold sores. You can find it at any drug store, I'm telling you, get some ASAP! It's topical and I don't think you are supposed to put it inside your mouth but I remember doing saltwater rinses and diluted hydrogen peroxide rinses for the inside the mouth sores and I think that was helpful. Good luck, I hope this helps!

  2. Some vids in here:

    There is a VERY different approach in this community to things like candida. Maybe doing the opposite will work for you - in fact, search the whole forum for things on candida.

    Good luck.

    As for cold sores...the only thing that worked for me was being on valtrex for like 2 years, and then I might get one once a year and since being on a raw food diet, IF I get one, they are way less severe. Oh, and I am so sensitive to everything now (as in I can tell if something is going on in my body almost immediately) I can usually catch it before it develops and put some zovirax on it.

    It seems that if you have something wanting to detox from your body, it will always choose the weakest route. People with cold sores, for instance, will get an outbreak if the immune system is low because it is an escape route...this is my theory, anyway. For people who have better immune systems (say youngsters, teenagers, etc) the pathway will be the skin, sinuses, etc. I used to have horrible skin/sinuses and I detoxed that way.

    Antibiotics are THE WORST. Stay away at all costs. The most important thing I ever did for my health was go on a raw vegan diet. Seriously. Nothing beats it.

  3. Sorry to hear you're so sick!!! When I'm sick, I tend to drink a very strong brew made of tons of fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom. I simmer it for hours before drinking. If you add some honey that would probably be good for you too... and if you add some milk and black tea, you basically have a cup of extremely strong chai. I've heard turmeric and black pepper are super good for you too... but I don't generally add them since when I'm sick I never feel quite up to trying it. I also tend to make loads of really spice-filled and garlic-filled vegetable curries when I'm sick. I don't know if that's much help... but good luck and I hope you are feeling much better very soon!!

  4. Oh Milla, I hope you feel better soon, this sounds so wearing.

    I spent 4 years researching nineteenth century culture for my PhD, a process which turned me, a natural remedy enthusiast, in favour of antibiotics. Reading so many peoples' journals from a time when antibiotics were not an option, diets were much healthier and natural remedies were unforgotten and widely held in expertise, things like pneumonia and typhoid (easily curable by antibiotics) were what people died from.

    I agree that we use antibiotics and painkillers and pretty much everything way too much today, when there are better, body-friendly remedies outside our doors for 99% of problems. But I still hear the voices of my nineteenth century friends and give thanks every day for the discoveries which keep us from having to live with constant pain and the threat of dying from simply being caught in a cold rainstorm.

    I share your problem with candida. I ended up with it in my bloodstream and I was sick, exhausted and miserable for over a year. I stay away from bread, most grains and meat altogether now, and eat vegetables, fish and (Finnish!) rye crackers, with the occasional cheese, and that worked for me.

    I hope you find a path out of your health problems soon- you'll find your balance I'm sure :)
    J. xx

  5. For cold sores, I have had good luck with liquorice root tincture (Glycyrrhiza glabra), applied topically with a cotton ball and also taken internally (eyedropper full or two in some water once or twice a day). I read about this remedy in a Rosemary Gladstar book (she describes the tincture as an antiviral) and for me, it works a heck of a lot better than any drugstore remedy I've tried.

    Of course, there are counterindications for liquorice root, so do some investigation first to make sure it is the right choice for you.

  6. i am a science chick. take the antibiotics and eat a bunch of yogurt. i'm sorry you feel like shit. that sounds brutal.:( i hope you find some relief in some remedy.

  7. I'm not a fan of antibiotics and I know you're not either, but Milla, PLEASE take them. It's very possible that you've been sick on and off for so long because you've only been fighting the illness until you were well enough to function. It could have been with you for all this time, and now you're finally worn so much that you have pneumonia. My only suggestion for replacing all the good bacteria the antibiotic kills is eat a lot of yoghurt, even if you're congested. The calcium can't be bad for you either.

    Garlic is supposed to be VERY good for your immune system. I feed it a clove to the turkeys every week (as well as raw, nuclear hot peppers to zap any harmful, liver-destroying bacteria. That sounds weird, but it's a long, uninteresting story), and I myself eat tons to ward off illness. In the last three years, I've only been sick in bed once and had one ear infection (which I used to be very prone to).

    For your mouth, sage tea would probably work. I drink it for my stomach, as it kills all my pain if I eat something I'm not supposed to, but it's also an EXCELLENT remedy if you have mouth/throat/stomach infections. I know a cold sore is technically a virus, but this can't hurt, you know what I mean? Just take two or three leaves and steep them in a small teacup of boiling water for 3-5 minutes. It tastes pretty nice, too. I'll be sure to send you some of my stash next package.

    Darling, it's would be very bad for you to screw around with this illness and infection. Since you don't take antibiotics often at all, taking the full course of this one would most likely have a phenomenal effect on you. Go for the natural remedies for smaller ailments and as *preventatives*, but this time, please take the doc's advice.

    SO much love. Get well soon. xoxo

  8. the problem with pneumonia is how it lingers. You need to REST, rest, and rest, even when you think you're better you need to rest because it's so sneaky and pervasive in the body. If you can't walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded (and you normally can) then you probably have it or have not recovered from it. If you don't rest enough it will just keep coming back. I'm sorry to hear of all this, one is bad enough without all the others. In my experience yogurt, no sugar, lots of garlic, and over the counter yeast infection cures can help with yeast. Can your Dr. give you an immune boosting shot like the kind you get when traveling?
    Feel better, and rest. I hope your immune system bounces fast.

  9. Oh, I don't have advices, but I'm so sorry for you and I hope you get well soon!

  10. So sorry to hear about your health problems! I actually also had pneumonia about this time last year. I understand your frustration about antibiotics- it seems as if I'm on them about half the time, for something or another. However, I waited way too long to seek real treatment for my pneumonia (I was in Peru!) and was more-or-less self treating with whatever I could find. By the time I was prescribed the correct antibiotics the pneumonia had progressed to a very dangerous point and I had to take the antibiotics as injections, in addition to two other types of antibiotics in pill form. I also suspect all my illnesses (severe food allergies, respiratory problems, frequents migraines and vomiting, etc.) have some sort of root cause. I considered candida, but it just seemed so overwhelming to treat that I tried to forget about it! Since I haven't discovered any sort of cure I suppose I'm not much help. I would definitely urge you to take the antibiotics for pneumonia though- you don't want to mess with that, it's scary stuff and only gets worse! I hope you make a full recovery and would be VERY interested to hear if you discover the root cause!

  11. I suffer from bad bronchial and sinus symptoms every winter. I'm with some of your commenters take the antibiotics and then to compliment them I do these things.

    1. Foe blocked nose and heavy chest, fill a bowl with steaming water and put in 5 drops tea tree and 5 drops eucalyptis oil, hold your head over it with a towel over it and inhale try to stay there for ten mins. I try to do this three times a day when particularly bad.

    2. If your throat is sore try sucking on zinc tablets that you can get at the health food store.

    3. Lemon, glycerin and honey syrup really soothes a sore throat.

    4. Loads and loads and loads of fluids, teas, water, warm and nourishing.

    5. L-lysine tablets for coldsores may help, they help me and I recurringly suffer from them. Also I use a topical treatment called Zovirax in Ireland, it is known medically as aciclover it is the best thing i have tried, it can seem expensive for the small tube you get but it is well worth it.

    6. Lemon and honey drinks. Juice of half a lemon teaspoon of honey and boiling water.

    7. Mind your poor nose with all the wiping! I put petroleum jelly around mine to protect it from drying out. I suppose you can use beeswax salve if PJ is not an option.

    Be patient and kind to yourself and your body. I know that that can be really difficult when you are an active person and then the feeling of frustration and failure when you can't be your usual self is heartbreaking. Rest, rest, rest see it as an oppurtunity to recharge it seems you had a really active summer so take time to recharge. Your health is more important than anything else so look after it. Listen to your body and be nice to it and if it needs more conventional medicine, maybe you could consider that option.

    Sorry for the novel of a post but I know exactly how you feel, I spent last winter pretty much in bed feeling miserable from all of the sympyoms you describe and maybe these practices can help you. Mind yourself.

  12. I'm so very sorry to hear of your illness and admire you wanting to get to the root cause. But, like some of the other posters have pointed out, it may have unfortunately progressed to the point beyond being able to avoid antibiotics at this point. I really appreciated what several of the posters said who have had experience with this or have done research (love the voices of the 19th century). You can make your own keifer to replace the good bacteria and rest will be important. There are some molds out in the pacific NW that could be a "root casue" but, for now, I'd take the antibiotics (and I HATE 'em), rest a ton, and supplement with some of the wise womyn wisdom your sisters have provided.

  13. My friend is a pharmacist and also recommends many natural remedies to his patients. He does 30,000 units of D3 at bedtime followed by 30mg of melatonin for 3-4 days. Gives the immune system a huge boost. I hear it works wonders, Im yet to try it. Feel better!!!

  14. F*cking candida. Me too darling girl. Bane of my existence. I get so angry about it because I CAN'T GET HELP. Yoghurt doesn't do the trick anymore for me...but warm water mixed with a few tablespoons of salt or even baking soda for a small bath (of you know what region) keeps symptoms at bay and gets rid of it completely if I only have a mild case of it- splash 2-3 times a day. If I indulge in too much sugar and white bread, the inevitable occurs, but mine is also hormonal, just a few days before ladytime.

    questions... Is your house damp? mould spores could be affecting you. Can you be allergy tested? Is it the wonderful grasses and pollen that is causing immune probs? My oldest baby is allergic to tree pollen...i live in a place that begins with PINE so you see we have some problems there.

    Take the antibiotics and double/triple dose the candida meds once symptoms start. That is what i would have to do. I liked what Sara said, you need to trust the meds this time darling girl, you just need to get better and fast.

    Do you have access to Calendula oil for your excema? Will Vitamin A cream help the coldsores. Poor Milla, it's a mess. Get better lovely xxxxxx

  15. There's this box of assorted seasonal teas I would recommend to EVERYONE. It has all these great herbs that treat all sorts of cold weather illnesses. It's 'Traditional Medicinals' brand seasonal herb tea sampler with Gypsy Cold Care, Throat Coat, Breathe Easy, and Echinacea Plus. All natural, and a heck of a lot easier than gathering all the seperate herbs yourself. I don't know if it will help with the pneumonia itself, but it sure as heck will make you FEEL better.

  16. Oh sweet friend. I pray , chant, punch, drink, pet my cat , pull my hair, light a candle and collect my tears in a baby bottle in hoping that this will create a swifter healing for you. I am so sorry. love love love hugs hugs hugsxo

  17. Er, sorry to pop in on such a personal post, but I've been a follower of your blog for a while and thought I might have some helpful advice. I have chronic candida problems myself (due to a stomach medication I can't avoid taking), but for me the best and fastest way to control yeast populations are acidophilus capsules. Seriously, I start feeling better almost immediately.

    They're also a great way to restore your gut bacteria levels back to normal while taking antibiotics. If you give the antibiotics a few hours to digest, then take the acidophilus, you should be able to keep the yeast under control. I've had good results myself, and also with my pets (guinea pigs, who often develop gut stasis if you give them antibiotics only).

  18. Hello Milla,

    I have so much to say about health, especially the candida kind. I will send an email an fill you in on what I have done. I can say though, health is very possible, and making peace with candida too! If you are very ill yogurt wont do much for you, and the dairy could irritate your lungs more. Lots of warming soups, and a bit of spice for now, And if you have Pneumonia, I would say take the antibiotics, you probably need a little time to find the right healer, to guide on your way from here, and you may not have the time or energy to get over this whilst you research that.

    Your bountiful support here from all your 'virtual' friends, must warm the cockles of your heart. What a gal you are!!!!! I send you mine too to add.

    I made my way back to health through EFT ( emotional freedom technique) and medical herbalism, it was a long and concerted effort, but one that has paid off in leaps and bounds of energy compared to where I was in my life.

    I will give some more details real soon, am not at my place right now, and have no online access where I am. I do wonder did my parcel find its way to your pretty island?

    xx Blessings of strength and insight

  19. Wishing you a speedy recovery Milla. Hope you get to the bottom of this soon! Blistex for coldsores? x

  20. oh my gosh! you poor thing. sounds like we need to call in all the healing forces from all the cardinal directions.... after medicating your ailments with what you choose, perhaps there is some way that we can find out a custom diagnosis as to what the core issue is - for your particular self at this particular time. a naturopathic consultation combined with some kind of psychic healing could shed a lot of light on what exactly it is that your immune system needs to feel supported.

    rest rest rest, pretty girl.

  21. after you get strong again, i say save up your pennies and go see a homeopath. i am just finally doing this after a few years of annoying symptoms and imbalances.....i am hopeful. it is like backing back through all the symptoms one at a time to get to the initial root. it is hardcore and i like it. we are probably going back in some ways, to something that could have started 10 years ago. along with everybody else's good wisdom, i say homeopathy. not just go to the store yourself and buy a remedy, but get treated by a reputable homeopath/naturopath. old ordinary magic.

  22. as much as i abhor antibiotics, i am right there with the gals who are urging you to take them. i wouldn't eff with pneumonia, i've had friends hospitalized with it. as for the antibiotics' damage, i have also had really good experiences with acidophilus. i understand that it is a waste to start taking them until you've completed the antibiotics, tho.
    i am sending you warm hugs and positive thoughts, and smiling at all the wicked thoughts your sharp mind has time to ponder while your body is all laid up. xoxoxo
    p.s. i adore all these sick bed photos you've gathered. so much pitiful beauty. i especially love that first one-- i'm gonna squint my eyes and pretend that it's you with your laptop mounted to hover at weakened fingertips' height ;)

  23. A total longshot, but since you are around gardens, compost and use droppings, harvest in the woods, are around woodworking, live in an area where it can be an issue, you may want to check this out (one allopathic reference, one more holistic health) as it can be seen as pneumonia by some doctors and includes some of your other symptoms:
    This is not sent to worry or upset you, just something to consider as you try to get to the root cause. I've been concerned for you since yesterday and truly hope you find out what's going on, whatever it might be. Blessings, Em

  24. Yes, Listen to Missa - Abreva works miracles. My guy gets awful cold sores and this is the only stuff that gets 'em gone.

    Also, I totally agree with holding off on antibiotics. I've only taken them maybe a handful of times in my life, and I swear I have a super immune system in that I almost NEVER get sick when the rest of the family does. I also have very lax feelings about "germs" - and my boys are rarely sick as well. However, it does sound like your last resort is going to be the pills, my friend. You don't want to get too worn down and end up in the hospital.

    Whatever the case, I truly hope your health picks up soon. We need your vibrant light and love to feed us here on blogland.


  25. oh wow milla, i really feel for you. how wearing and discouraging! i have candida too, but it isn't kicking my ass currently.

    i have to agree with you other reader up there about the antibiotics...if you have pneumonia, the anti-life pills are the only things to help. and pneumonia is dangerous.

    once you get over the pneumonia is when you want to start building yourself back up. here's my 3 cents.

    1. start by building up your gut/intestinal flora. get probiotics that are refrigerated and liquid. even better...start fermenting your food, and eat some every day.

    2. once you are NO LONGER SICK, i would begin a regimin of echinacia, goldenseal and cayenne...either in capsules or tincture. just make sure to take a few days off after two weeks, and then repeat.

    3. for your eyes, a strong eyebright infusion has always done it for me.

    4. i have no idea about the cold soars, but you have ALL my sympathy.

    this is just off the cuff. i'll do some more thinking about this and get back to you. get better lovely...the world is brighter when you're in it. love.

  26. cold soars was a slip, but how appropo...i hope you are able to take flight soon!

  27. When was the last time you had your thyroid levels checked? I have Hashimoto's and I know that if my thyroid becomes unregulated my immune system takes a major dive. Low thyroid can also be a contributing factor in exhaustion.

    It's just a thought, but since you mentioned that you have health insurance now, I thought I'd mention it, as you might want to get it tested. It's a simple blood test.

  28. Just sent you an email love. I sent it off pretty fast so I didn't properly add... that I hope you took the life-killers too :) But you might find the books i recommended helpful as well for your future worryings. I know I have :) Much love and health!

  29. Dear Milla,

    Hello!! :) How are you??

    "how the hell do you get rid of cold sores?!?!?" - DNA, dearie. Ugh!! Cold sores sucks!!! Yes, "peas in a pod" (cold sore(s) and me)

    S as in Stephanie :)

  30. P.S.: NO Orange juice (vitamin C, especially citrus fruits) :) (me)