Me­gan Sheppard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

Do you have a ques­tion for Me­gan Sheppard? Email it to feel­good@ex­am­iner.ie or send a let­ter to: Feel­good, Ir­ish Ex­am­iner, Linn Dubh, As­sump­tion Road, Black­pool, Cork

I’m in my early 60s and re­cently no­ticed that the joints in my fin­gers are get­ting stiff. I am con­cerned this may be the start of arthri­tis. I use a com­puter all day at work, so pain-free hands are es­sen­tial. What would you rec­om­mend?

>> You are clearly al­ready tak­ing care of your­self well since you have made it to your 60s with­out joint stiff­ness, and the fact that you are seek­ing out reme­dies to help at the first sign in­di­cates that you are re­ally pro-ac­tive about your health and well­be­ing. This is a great start.

One of my favourite reme­dies to help with pain and stiff­ness in joints con­tains in­gre­di­ents found in most kitchens. Ap­ple cider vine­gar — prefer­ably cer­ti­fied or­ganic, raw, and un­fil­tered — taken in hot wa­ter with op­tional raw honey is a won­der­ful way to help deal with de­posits of in­or­ganic min­er­als in the joints.

You can add in other ben­e­fi­cial kitchen reme­dies such as gin­ger, turmeric, cayenne, black pep­per, gar­lic, thyme, etc. I like to use fresh spices and herbs but dried is bet­ter than noth­ing.

A ta­ble­spoon of ap­ple cider vine­gar in a cup of hot wa­ter with around a tea­spoon of honey and a cou­ple of slices of fresh gin­ger root is a good place to start. Drink this brew two to three times daily for best ef­fect.

Ap­ple cider vine­gar is rich in min­er­als — potas­sium, phos­pho­rus, cal­cium, mag­ne­sium, nat­u­ral sil­i­con, pectin, and tar­taric acids — and it has an al­ka­lis­ing ef­fect on the body de­spite be­ing an acidic brew.

Honey is a nat­u­ral anti-in­flam­ma­tory agent and helps to heal the gut, which is key in in­flam­ma­tory con­di­tions. Gin­ger has long been used to help with pain re­lief, and im­prove cir­cu­la­tion to and from the af­fected joints.The ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in turmeric root, cur­cumin, has been shown to in­hibit the pro­duc­tion of the in­flam­ma­tory agent, ni­tric ox­ide. Ni­tric ox­ide is thought to be a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in arthritic con­di­tions, as it is present in much higher lev­els in in­di­vid­u­als with arthri­tis.

Mak­ing sure that your diet is rich in a va­ri­ety of fresh whole foods, with lit­tle or no pro­cessed and pack­aged foods, is im­por­tant in keep­ing in­flam­ma­tion at bay.

Con­tinue to drink enough wa­ter daily, and pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the in­clu­sion of es­sen­tial fatty acids in your diet (nuts, seeds, fatty fruits, oily fish, or sup­ple­men­ta­tion) to help en­sure op­ti­mal func­tion­ing of the joints and tis­sues.

My eight-week-old son has de­vel­oped sticky eye. The doc­tor has rec­om­mended sim­ply re­mov­ing the build-up with cot­ton wool and warm wa­ter. What can I do to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing in the first place?

>> I’m afraid it re­ally is a case of the sim­ple re­moval of the build-up and then wait­ing un­til your lit­tle one grows past this phase.

In most in­fants who have this is­sue, where there is no in­fec­tion present, it is a block­age of the duct that is likely to be a re­sult of the tear duct be­ing nar­rower than usual or not yet fully de­vel­oped.What would usu­ally hap­pen is that this would drain via the duct into the si­nuses, but in­stead it col­lects around the eye area.

The only tweak that I would make is to use freshly boiled and cooled wa­ter rather than warm wa­ter straight from the tap to be ex­tra cau­tious in avoid­ing in­fec­tion. It is, of course, im­por­tant to use a fresh piece of cot­ton wool or cloth each time. Breast milk used to wipe the eye as per the boiled wa­ter on cot­ton wool can help if the eye area looks ir­ri­tated.

My youngest son had sticky eye as a new­born, and it seemed to right it­self by about three months of age. It never seemed to bother him at all. In fact, the only is­sue was hav­ing to ex­plain to every­body that his goopy eye was nor­mal and not con­ta­gious.

Do keep track of how the eye pro­gresses, and if the duct re­mains blocked af­ter a few months, then it is worth check­ing in with a spe­cial­ist just to be on the safe side. Most tear duct block­ages are of no sig­nif­i­cant health con­cern un­less they per­sist be­yond about 12 months of age.

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