Good Medicine: Cheap & Easy.
Here i will write about the easy cures i have been shown or discovered and used for fixing my body. As i learn more things, i will post more success stories! The sharing of information in this instantaneous and free way is exciting. Dr. Internet, people call it. So often i hear about uses of herbs and such, but there is no detailed accounts of how to actually do it.
I have found the Do It Yourself method of medicine far better than waiting in line at the doctor’s office and getting a shrug of the shoulders, or a bottle full of corporate pills. Screw that! There’s a lot of things you can do yourself to care for your body and mind, you don’t need some college graduate to tell you what your body needs. Learning to trust my intuition and my friends. Preventative Medicine, eating well, resting well, knowing when to ask for help so you don’t go crazy, just being aware of your body and what it needs.
The Beer Bottle Neti Pot: for awhile i have had sinus trouble, headaches and trouble breathing. So i used a friend’s neti pot, a bit of sea salt (non-iodized) and warm water, poured into each nostril as you tilt your head to the side, and breathing in and spitting out the water and mucous. Breathing in thru the nose pulls junk out of your sinus, blowing outward tends to force things back up in there. This was like a miracle cure! How much are these neti pots, i ask. Ten to twenty bucks! It’s worth it, but if you dont have the money… So i cleaned out an empty red stripe beer bottle with a good nose sized mouth, and i mix the sea salt with water in there, and hold it up to my nose with just a small gap at the top so the water flows in. It works just as well as the neti pot for me, and it’s free, for sure you can find empty bottles laying about on the street. The sea salt will cost about a buck for a whole lot of it. Doing a sea salt flush when you feel a cold coming on, or just regularly cleaning the sinus, will help prevent you from becoming sick. (Figured the beer bottle thing out all by myself.)
Baking Soda For Acid Stomach: I like the spicey food and the bloody marys. Sometimes the old stomach doesnt like it, and a terrible burning takes away the fun. I bring the fun back with a tiny container of Baking Soda in my backpack, (is that cocaine? no, it’s not) pour a little out in my hand, half a teaspoon or less, and lick it up, chase it down with a swill of water. Instant cure. Baking Soda is the stuff that comes in a box and you put in the refrigerator to absorb odors. You can use this box out of the fridge if there is no other available, but you will be sampling all the odors absorbed from the fridge. Yum. (taught to me by Allie P.)
Gargle With Cayenne Pepper For Sore Throat: Just a bit of powdered cayenne pepper in water, gargle with it, and feel the tiny demons burn! Another instant cure for most sore throat sicknesses. (taught to me by some punk somewhere i think)
The Old Garlic Clove in the Ear: Ever since i was a child i had problems with ear infections. The first cure i remember was talking to the christian science practitioner on the phone who said he would pray for me, i feel it didn’t work so well (don’t feel bad mom!). A better cure is to take a clove of good garlic, one that might fit in your ear canal, or split it down the center to fit, cut the root end off to expose the oils, and pulling up on the top of your ear to open the canal, slide the garlic carefully in, just enuf so it stays in the canal, then let go of your ear. You should feel a luscious burning sensation, it goes away after several minutes. Now the garlic oil is absorbing into your body directly at the site of infection. I feel like putting the root end in first is good because the natural flow of the clove will be to release the garlic oil and suck out the infection into the clove, just like it once sucked up nutrients from the roots in the soil. This may be fantasy, but i like to think that way. I also ate several cloves a day to help boost my immune system. This worked fantastically for me. Just put the clove in an leave it there. Hopefully you have a good ear to still hear out of. Otherwise, garlic in both ears, please be careful if you go for a walk, and look both ways when crossing the street. (This cure was found posted by an internet mother who used garlic on her kids.)
Cleaning Out Ears: Get yourself a 99 cent bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide, lay on your side, and pour it in your ear. Feel the warm bubbling as it melts away the waxy dirty nastiness! Flush with warm water after each ear. Whoa, i can hear! Not recommended if you have a middle ear infection, the pounding of the bubbles on your eardrum when it is full of infection is an terrible sensation. Using cotton swabs is terrible, it packs the stuff in there, and can actually be the cause of ear infections. (Taught to me by Arise! founder Mike Whalen.)
The following info was originally published as a mini-comic called “Comic Health Care by Robalicious”:
This comic was inspired by my struggles with health care. For a person in my economic class, paying for medical care or having insurance is laughable. Being able to pay rent and have a safe place to live, and having good and sufficient food to put in my face is the level of health care I have access to (sometimes, not even that).
There are a lot of cheap and easy things to do for yourself that work as Preventative Health Care: keeping you from getting sick or injured, which then requires the urgent care of western medicine which is, generally, out of our reach, and possibly not healthy for us. How healthy is it on the mind/body to be shoved thru the corporate western medical machine a few times? Sitting in the waiting room. Fuck that.
I have been helped by zine writers who have shared their experience with their mind/bodies, their methods for keeping it well. Sometimes just reading about someone’s effort at trying to be well is inspirational to me, so I will share my experience here. What I have discovered that helps and what hurts. The issues I struggle with presently, in order of importance to me, are: depression, low energy, herpes, sinusitus, back pain, psoriasis, & acid stomach. Wow, quite a list, now that I write it all down. I’ll go in reverse order:
Acid Stomach: When I feel the acid boiling up, usually from alcohol and mega spices combined, I take a half teaspoon of Baking Soda, that stuff in the orange box in the fridge. Instantly calms the acid in the stomach. If you find yourself using it all the time, consider asking yourself: what am I putting in my stomach that is making it so angry? And try not to do that as often.
Psoriasis: A genetic thing, linking to the liver, as all the skin is. Spots that reproduce and die really fast and pile up, looking like a scab. Mine appeared when I hit puberty, very common, and tortured me for years. I recall being unable to sleep scratching at the stuff, bleeding, sticking to the sheets. Terrible. For years I have stumbled thru the dark looking for a way to control it. Now I have. Drinking affects the liver badly, less drinking. Stress causes breakouts, fuck stress, relax! Eating a good diet now that I have money from not spending all of it on booze. And this salve made out of a petrolatum base with 2% Coal Tar as the active ingredient, the stuff I found is called “Psoriasin” Ointment. Over the counter, cheap, and extremely effective. Coal Tar Ointment. Bad ass effective, and it makes you smell like a train track, an extra bonus! Also, I moved to a place that didn’t have cold, dry winters, which is also bad for psoriasis. Sorry, Minneapolis. Of all these things I think that the relief on my liver from stopping drinking all the time is the most important one.
Back Pain: Years ago at the Mala Zimmetbaum Studio of Fine Arts and Home for Wayward Youth in Minneapolis I learned the gentle Hatha Yoga routine taught at the free school there (Thanks Carrie!). It helped me out immensely. I try to do it every other day at least, to keep loose, and avoid a build up of the tension that makes everything hurt. The thing I notice is, I don’t even notice how tight and wound up I am until I do the yoga. For half an hour stretching, focusing on my breathing while doing these maneuvers, counting my breath and becoming aware of my body. Then when I have done it I feel amazing, and wonder why I hadn’t done it sooner. Doing yoga also helps out immensely with my lack of energy problem. If I roll out of bed and do yoga, I will be far more awake than if I drank an entire pot of coffee. It’s kind of amazing. There may be a free or cheap Yoga place near you, Hatha was easy for me to learn and after I memorized the routine, then I could just do it on my own. I’ve done yoga on boats, in squats, in parks, on beaches, in the backyard, in the living room, even inside my 8 foot wide shack. Don’t eat right before doing yoga, and don’t try to stretch too far
Sinusitus: In the last few years I have had increasing trouble with my sinus being plugged up. Finally I was pointed in the direction of a Jala Neti pot, and my life was changed. I couldn’t afford a ceramic pot so for a long time I just put a pinch of salt in a clean beer bottle and filled it with warm water, then tipped it into my nose and let it pour thru to the other side, then the other nostril. Then I scored a real neti pot and I think they are much better than the beer bottle neti. The neti pot is just like a tea pot, you stick the round spout in your nose and it lets the water flow thru, cleaning out dirt and bacteria and virus that may have found their way in to your vast sinus. This not only makes me breath well again, but has kept me from getting sick by flushing out those microscopic thugs. I do it twice a day at least. I swear by it. After a long bike ride in city air, I am running for the neti pot. Funner than drugs.
Herpes: The long road of learning how to live with a body that is not well. Herpes is a virus that causes breakouts of tiny blisters, it is not curable, but controllable. Herpes affects people differently. Hsv 1 is oral, I have that on my lips, and Hsv 2, I have that on my genitals. Don’t make the mistake I made. If you have it or think you have it, tell your sexual partner that you have herpes. Technically, without full disclosure of the fact that you have herpes, the consent you gain is false, because they don’t know what they are getting themselves into.
For remedy I take 1000mg of L-Lysine every day which makes the breakouts basically painless and short lived. L-Lysine is a vitamin supplement, cheap. Also, as with everything mind/body, a good diet and moderation with the booze, lower stress levels, get good sleep. Certain foods will cause people to break out, vitamin C and chocolate are things I have noticed cause outbreaks.
Low Energy: There’s the yoga. Then I take a B Vitamin Complex every day. I have been doing this for years. It’s strange to think I am dependent on these things, but my diet in the starving punk artist world has been very minimal and the vitamins have helped a lot. I eat better now, and sometimes I forget to take a B vitamin and I don’t even notice, but usually if I forget to take one I will find myself feeling very tired and listless. The B Complex was a savior to me, it helps convert food into energy, and also helped a lot with the next topic, depression.
The B Vitamin is the poor-man’s happy pill.
Depression: All of the above and more. Awareness of the mind/body unity, your brain and emotions are not disconnected from the rest of your body. I try to eat good food, Oatmeal is a good way to start the day, and the B Vitamins, and not go too long between meals. Preferably constant snacking, just like Dolly Pardon. Good exercise, long walks, a bicycle ride, being outside! Keeping the mind and emotions flowing, not damming up behind an obsessive knot of bullshit! Untie the internal knot, I focus on my breathing, imagining the breath going in and out of my nose, being aware of the depression but not letting it dominate. Being in the present moment by being aware of my breathing. Drawing pictures, making collages, watching birds fly, going to a park, letting the sun shine on your skin (the sun creates vitamin D in your skin, which helps make you happy). I write short stories, make zines. Ask for good book recommendations, when I have nothing else, I have a good book in my hand. Call a friend, a relative. Ask for help. I’m not good at asking people for help, but when I finally do, it helps me so much that I wonder why the fuck I didn’t do that sooner. Everything is easier with someone else. Even masturbating, which is also good for treating depression.