Monthly Archives: February 2017

Curcumin kills malignant mesothelioma cell lines

Well no, it’s not myeloma, but mesothelioma (but its acronym is MM, too), which is a terrible cancer with poor survival rates, high resistance to conventional therapies, etc.

Previous studies have showed that curcumin might help in the treatment of mesothelioma, but the one I read about today has just come out, and it’s from the University of Rome, Italy (I always have a soft spot for Italian studies…): goo.gl/AkwLBg Interesting…Poor mice, though…!!!

From this link, you can read more about it, if you want. And if you want to have a look at the abstract, click on this link: goo.gl/ytXK0c

I’m going to finish reading the anti-curcumin review this afternoon…Wish me luck!  :roll:

Another weird turmeric story

Again, as with my Romeo the cat story, I didn’t think I’d be writing a post about my most recent experience with turmeric, so I didn’t take any photos to document what happened. But I decided to write about it anyway, because my experience might be of help to others who might find themselves in a similar predicament.

07.10.01-Blog Photos-0037A few months ago, right before the Xmas holiday, an odd-looking, spot appeared on my left arm, seemingly from one day to the next (I probably just hadn’t noticed it). It had a crust on it, and it was a bit oozy (I’ll spare you too many details!).

I didn’t know what it was…possibly a cat scratch that had gotten infected? My cats don’t scratch me…not voluntarily, I mean, but they do climb all over me/us when we’re in bed. In particular, Pinga sleeps on top of me, and sometimes–when she gets startled, e.g.–she takes off like a rocket headed for outer space, leaving behind a bunch of scratches and a rather vexed mommy. I have scratches on my back and shoulders almost all the time. So yes, the first thing that occurred to me is that it might be a scratch…

But it looked more like a weird, infected insect bite. Bottom line: I couldn’t figure it out.

Then another spot appeared on my arm, nearby. Yikes, it’s spreading, I thought. I didn’t like that one bit…

We were about to leave for Austria. I didn’t have time to go to the doctor. I also didn’t want to go to the doctor: there was a lot of flu going around, and I didn’t want to be exposed to it in the doctor’s waiting room, which is usually filled with coughing, germy patients at that time of year.

But I was a wee bit concerned, so I showed it to a friend who told me it might be “impetigo.” Impet-whaaat? I’d never heard of it. All she knew is that it is something children usually get.

I looked it up. In medical terms, it’s a very contagious bacterial skin infection caused by Staphyloccoccus (staph) and Streptococcous bacteria. It’s one of the most common infections in children, as my friend had told me, and it is characterized by oozy sores, similar to the one on my arm, although, hey, some of those impetigo photos that you can find online are really REALLY GROSS, My arm didn’t look all that bad, nothing like what I’d seen on those medical sites…

Since I’m clearly not a child, I was puzzled. That is, UNTIL I read that people with impaired immune systems can get impetigo infections, too. Ah. There you go. My poor little immune system…

I went to the pharmacy where the doctors scratched their heads a bit and then confirmed my friend’s diagnosis. They gave me a topical antibiotic cream, which I put on the two sores immediately, covering them both with bandages.

Well, off we went to Austria, and even though the spots on my arm definitely improved and stopped making, er, babies, they hadn’t totally disappeared by the time we got back home.

At that point I had a brrrrrrrilliant thought: Indians heal their cuts and wounds with turmeric, so why shouldn’t I give it a try? I whipped out my jar of organic turmeric and rubbed some onto the two spots. They were both gone within a couple of days. Zap!  😎

Then, about ten days ago, a spot popped up on my left arm again. Same arm, different area, so this might happen again, from time to time (oh well).

This time, though, I was ready and knew what to do. I didn’t bother with the antibiotic cream but rubbed turmeric onto it immediately. When I first found it, it was still “angry,” ready to go a bit crazy and make some babies. As soon as I applied the turmeric, though, the spot started drying up almost instantly. I can still see its shadow now, but it has been neutralized.

This time, no “babies.”

If I ever see any more spots return, I will document the whole thing with photographs, if possible.

Anyway, here’s my point: if you ever have a cut that is taking too long to heal, or a sore of some sort, like mine, think about sticking some turmeric on it…Organic turmeric only, eh!

CAUTION: turmeric stains like crazy, so don’t wear anything light-colored over the treated area, even if it’s covered by a bandage. I wore my dark, long-sleeved turtlenecks for the entire period…

P.S. The photo (above), which I took quite a number of years ago, shows a spoonful of C3 Complex curcumin powder. I don’t have time to take a photo of some turmeric right now. But I did want to mention two things: 1. I used turmeric powder, not curcumin (although…if there is a next time I might think of using curcumin…why not?), and 2. I used less than a pinch of the spice…barely a dab.

And a few days was enough to dry up the spot…Tada, like magic…

Confirmed: vitamin D helps prevent acute respiratory infections

I just read this in the February 22nd issue of the “Harvard Gazette”: “A new global collaborative study has confirmed that vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections. The study, a participant data meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials including more than 11,000 participants, has been published online in The BMJ.” vitamin d

This is such important news for those of us who have impaired immune systems. I’ve written a bunch of posts on the vitamin D topic, as you probably know, referring, e.g., to the important studies carried out by the Mayo Clinic (2009) and the University of Oldenburg (Germany) study (2015). See: http://margaret.healthblogs.org/life-with-myeloma/what-is-multiple-myeloma/myeloma-and-vitamin-d/

Both state that MM patients with low levels of vitamin D don’t fare as well as those with normal levels. And that is a HUGE reason why we should have our D levels tested often…

This new study tells us that vitamin D can cut our risk of developing respiratory infections perhaps as much as FIFTY PERCENT. But we have to take it REGULARLY, not just when we think about it. Good point! And another good point, which is one I’ve made here on the blog and to my friends: high-dose supplementation is not a good idea.

Anyway, all the information is here, at this link: goo.gl/YnvhMM

Good stuff!!!  😎

Romeo: a cat and curcumin story…

Before I begin, let me assure you that what I’m going to write today isn’t, er, fake news.  :roll:

Mostly, I will be giving you more details of a story that I told here back in December of 2014, which is the story of how we adopted our seventh cat, Pammy. And I have a good reason for giving you these details…it has to do with curcumin, as you might have figured out from the post’s title…

So this isn’t just another cat story that has no other purpose than entertainment. It actually has a point. An interesting one, methinks. Therefore, please bear with me until the end…But first, I must introduce you to Romeo…

Romeo (see photo below) is a un-neutered male cat who has been living on our back terrace for more than two years now. He was born in a neighboring garden in 2007 (I actually wrote a post about him: he was the “lonely kitten,” the one in a litter of three that wasn’t picked to be adopted, probably because he has a stumpy tail, see: http://margaret.healthblogs.org/2007/06/13/lonely-kitten-and-cleaning-teeth-with-turmeric/ ).

Our neighbors (two houses down from ours) fed him until the summer of 2014. Romeo has always been an outside cat. He wasn’t allowed into the neighbors’ house. And, until I came along, I don’t think that he had ever been petted or loved by any human being. He is scared of humans. He now occasionally lets me come near him, slowly, and pet him, but then the next time he’ll run out of my reach. Go figure. Poor kitty. I never insist, by the way. If he doesn’t want to be petted, fine. I talk to him soothingly and let him know that he’s safe on our terrace.

Back to those neighbors. About 5-6 years ago, the wife died, and her husband put their house on the market, eventually selling it…in 2014. He moved to another city in Northern Italy and told my next door neighbor that he’d come back for one of the cats, the friendliest one. But he never came back. In fact, he never even called her to see how the three cats were doing. He never worried about how/if they’d survive.

You can imagine what we all thought of his behavior. But…no further comment.

At first, my next door neighbor fed the three cats. Then, after we returned from our summer holiday, I began feeding them, too. But she was concerned because of her two un-neutered male golden retrievers that absolutely HATE cats and might even be cat killers (we never want to find out! In fact, that is one of the main reasons I could never let my cats outside). She was afraid that, if she kept feeding those kitties, something awful might happen on their terrace. So was I.

So I took over. I became the main provider for the cats and set up winter (outside, but comfy) shelters for two of them, the two that were too “wild” to come inside to live with us and our other cats.

The third cat, the above-mentioned friendliest one, is our Pammy. Yep. You may remember that back in December of 2014 I wrote a post about Pammy, about how we adopted her. At that time, I decided to leave out the other two cats. Why I decided to do that…well, I don’t know. I guess at the time I thought it might just distract from the focal point of my story: Pammy, that is. Anyway, whatever.

The other two cats were: 1) Romeo, of course, and 2) his mother (who happened to be Piccolo and Pammy’s mother, too, incidentally). The mother was an elderly cat…at least 15 or 16 years old at the time these cats were abandoned. Like her son, Romeo, she was quite “wild” and wouldn’t let me go near her…And she disappeared rather suddenly last summer, unfortunately…made me very sad. I hope she found a better place… :-(

Anyway, back to Romeo. After a cold spell here in Florence (back in January), a few weeks ago I noticed that his eyes were almost shut. You know when you wake up in the morning with your eyes all crusty and sort of stuck together? Well, that is what it looked like. Then I saw quite a bit of discharge, and when he tried to open his eyes to look at me, the corner of his left eye was red, really red. I mean, really. Clearly, there was a bad infection going on…IMG_6611

I was quite distraught. I went to read about cat eye problems on the Internet, but…how could I possibly deal with this? How could I catch Romeo and take him to the vet? And even if I succeeded in doing that, I knew that he would never let me put drops into his eyes every day. So…what could I do? When Stefano got home from work, he said “well, why don’t you put some curcumin in his food?”

Ah. Hadn’t thought of that.

Well, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

So that’s exactly what I did.

Every morning, after feeding my inside cats, I’d  mix some of my curcumin powder with Romeo’s wet food. And he just lapped it up. :-)  I checked his eyes as carefully as I could, at a distance, for days. At first, I didn’t notice any improvement. But then, after about four days, his eyes were fully open. No more discharge. In fact, I just saw him before writing this post, and the redness is GONE. If you look carefully at his left eye, you can still see something in the corner (near his nose), but it’s no longer fiery red. It’s pale. I don’t know what it is…But it’s not red!

Now, the fact that his eyes have healed, completely healed, might have happened anyway. I have no proof that it was the curcumin. But the fact is that Romeo’s eyes were worsening before Stefano suggested giving him curcumin.

Anyway, the main thing is: Romeo is fine now. Back to his former, skittish self.  :-)

And this is my story of the day. Again, it’s not a fake one, I promise. :roll: I only wish I’d taken a photo of his infected eyes. But at the time my only concern was how to deal with this problem and make him well again. I never thought I’d be writing a story about it! I was surprised, too.

So all I have is the photo I took of him this morning, and his eyes look fine, right?

Anyway, whether it was the curcumin (as I suspect) or not, this is how it went…For me, the main thing is that Romeo is well again…

A rare clay used by B.C. aboriginals kills bacteria resistant to antibiotics

Wow. First of all, I would like to thank a blog reader, D., for the bit of news that I “announced” in the title of my post. Here’s the link to the Vancouver Sun’s article: goo.gl/5x8zCf.

And I quote: “The grey-green clay, known as Kisolite, has been used for centuries by the Heiltsuk First Nations to treat a range of ailments, including ulcerative colitis, arthritis, neuritis, phlebitis, skin irritation, and burns. Locals have also historically used the clay for eczema, acne and psoriasis. Now, UBC researchers say the clay exhibits potent antibacterial activity against multidrug-resistant pathogens.

Extraordinary, isn’t it? I thought so!

The new cat tower

_1190299I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but that’s just…how it goes. Everything is fine with me, pretty much…I’ve been very busy…working (teaching English, translating; even this past weekend), and so on…

My post on our Austrian Xmas holiday is taking forever, mainly because I have to decide which–of my two billion photos!–to use. But the post is coming along…should be done soon.

I also received the negative curcumin review (see previous post), yes, the entire shebang, but I haven’t gone beyond a couple of pages. For one thing, reading something like this doesn’t put me in the right frame of mind (irritation sets in, e.g.); for another, it’s very technical, VERY!, and after a few paragraphs my brain becomes the consistency of melted marshmallows. _1190315But you know how determined I can be, so I WILL read the darn thing. I will… :-)

In the meantime, I thought I’d put up a few photos of my kitties. So, here goes: we recently bought a very tall and sturdy cat tower. It’s almost 3.60 meters tall (almost 12 feet tall; yes, we have high ceilings downstairs!), mainly to try to solve a problem that our younger male, Prezzemolo, has had for the past several months. A “spraying” problem.

He began spraying a bit everywhere (yes, he is “fixed,” like all my cats, so it seemed very strange to us…still does) but finally decided he mostly liked a couple of areas: our living room couch and armchair, and the bed in our guest bedroom. _1190346Oh, and he also likes to “mark” a few IKEA comfy chairs we have in a room downstairs…a room we don’t really use, so that’s “okay.” All of our furniture is now protected now by plastic covers, with IKEA cotton covers on top (easy to disinfect and wash)…You can see one of the dark blue covers in the photo to the right.

The first thing we did when we realized this was happening was take him to the vet. They ran tests to exclude any physical causes, a urinary tract infection, etc…

Result: he’s fine. A purrfectly healthy young male cat. He’s about 4.5 years old now, I guess.

We didn’t know what else to do until someone suggested we call a behavioral veterinarian (I think that’s what they are called…sort of like Jackson Galaxy, “My cat from hell,” except the person we called is not just a behaviorist but also a vet). We made an appointment before Xmas. The vet came over to our house and observed all of our cats–most of whom were taking naps!–for more than four hours. She concluded that our boy suffers from anxiety.

Great, that’s all we needed: an anxious cat._1190358

Anything can, er, set him off, but his main problem is the other male cat, Piccolo (the big black and white fellow in some of my photos), who is older and, well, dominant. The alpha cat. Piccolo is the source of Prezzemolo’s anxiety. In the photo on the left, you can see Prezzemolo on top, rubbing his head on the cat tower shelf, Pammy is next to the big “mouse,” and then there is Piccolo’s head, bottom left.

In the wild, the vet explained, in a stressful situation like this one, where we have two males sharing the same territory, what happens is that the younger male lion usually leaves and finds a territory of his own. The same thing happens with two male cats who live outside.

But here all our cats, male and female, are confined to the house. Yes, it’s a big house, with lots of toys and scratching posts, and two loving human parents, and so on, but our cats can’t go outside (for a bunch of very good reasons. The vet agreed with us that they should stay inside the house, in fact). _1190090So even though the cats’ “territory” looks huge to us, it isn’t so for Prezzemolo.

Stefano and I obviously want Prezzemolo to be happy, that’s our main cat-related goal right now, so we asked her for solutions…

Her main suggestion was to create a VERTICAL territory for Prezzemolo, a place that the older, heavier male cannot physically reach. We already have three cat towers in the house, but the vet told us that they weren’t high enough or in the right places (except for the one in my study, which is great).

She told us to put a tall one in the living room, floor to ceiling. And here we get to the point…and to the photos.

We ordered a huge, expensive cat tower in January, after researching every single sort of high cat tower on the market. When it arrived, it took us a while to assemble it and set it up. As soon as we’d finished, we figured the cats would jump on it immediately. But no, in typical cat fashion, they ignored it, especially Prezzemolo. I mean, TOTALLY IGNORED IT. They were more interested in the boxes it had been delivered in. I put his favorite toys on it, high up, inside the hammocks, and I hung strings to tempt him…but that didn’t work. Until…

Until a few weeks had passed (again, typical…).

_1190296I began finding him on the tree, asleep in a hammock or sitting on one of the shelves, looking outside the living room window. I have also seen him climb all the way to the top (several times, including this morning). Impressive. Since he’s the youngest of our cats, he’s also the only one who is physically able to do that, although Pinga (photo no. 2) can almost get to the top.

That is the whole point: if he can expand his territory, a territory that the alpha male cannot reach, he should begin to calm down. Fingers crossed.

His vertical territory hasn’t stopped him from spraying yet, but the incidents seem to have lessened. And anyway, luckily for us and for our nose buds, his urine doesn’t smell unless you stick your nose practically right on top of the area where you think he MIGHT have sprayed. Of course, it’s still a bummer…I have to sniff all of the IKEA covers on a daily basis and replace them with clean ones if necessary. Well, fingers crossed that this is just a phase…

By the way, I should mention that Prezzemolo is an adorable cat. In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, as you can see, he is also very cuddly. The cuddle business didn’t happen overnight. We don’t know much about his previous life, before we adopted him, that is, but I know it can’t have been an easy one. It took a VERY LONG time for him to trust us. When we’d reach out to pet him, he’d duck his head and look frightened. _1190340But we were patient…we didn’t push it…we knew it was going to be a slow process.

Our patience, mine in particular, was rewarded. A few months ago, one day, totally out of the blue, he jumped into my lap for the first time (note: he’s lived with us for more than four years now!). It was an emotional moment for both Stefano and me.

Nowadays he curls up in my lap at least twice a day. He always comes to me after dinner, while we are still at the dinner table. He rests his head on my arm, purrs, and looks up at me with his big yellow eyes, full of love. And by the way, he even jumped into my lap twice while the vet was visiting…to our great surprise, since he usually stays away when we have visitors…Well, that is changing now.

_1190093He has become much friendlier recently…with strangers, I mean. And, with the exception of Piccolo (who growls and wacks the poor kid if he gets too close), he also gets along with the other cats, including Pammy (and NONE of them get along with her…She’s a tough cookie, but that is fodder perhaps for another cat post).

In sum, he is scared only of Piccolo. And there is not much we can do about it…except give him heaps of love, of course. And play with him, and single him out for attention…and buy him a big cat tower…things like that…

Anyway, I have work to do, so I’d better get going. I hope you enjoy the photos. By the way, if you hover over them with your “mouse,” you can find a little explanatory note.

Take care, everyone, and…CIAO! :-)