Category Archives: migraines

The Best Natural Nausea Relief

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The following article contains affiliate links: at no additional cost to you,
I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I have never received free products or other compensation for reviews.

We’ve all been nauseous. Whether from pregnancy’s morning-sickness or medication side-effects, from the annual flu bug or a migraine attack, from anxiety or dehydration, or from eating a bit too much of that delicious holiday dinner, we can find nausea an unwelcome companion. Prescription anti-emetics can do an excellent job of preventing vomiting, but they can also make you dizzy or incontinent. Worse, since these powerful medications are to prevent vomiting, they don’t necessarily eliminate nausea. Over the last several years, I’ve come to rely more on natural remedies to relieve nausea, no matter its cause, and I’ve learned to keep many of these items in my pantry year round. Ginger is the best natural nausea antidote, and it’s generally regarded as safe to eat regularly.* I always have plenty of ginger in the house, whether as fresh root, crystallized, or as a major ingredient in some very yummy products. Fresh ginger root or crystallized ginger, which is made from the root, more effectively relieves nausea than culinary powdered ginger or herbal capsules containing powdered ginger.

Though I always have plenty of fresh ginger root (sliced, then frozen to maintain freshness) for baking and stir-fry dishes, crystallized ginger is now one of my kitchen staples. Years ago, I saw ginger listed in an herbal anti-nausea supplement, so I bought some crystallized ginger at a health food store. The next time I got nauseous, I opened the bag and popped a slice into my mouth. It was delicious. Even better, two slices later, my nausea had completely disappeared. Since that time, I keep an airtight glass container on the counter filled with crystallized ginger. When I have the flu, am getting a migraine, or have nausea for any reason, I eat a few slices of crystallized ginger. It immediately relieves nausea, and if the upset stomach returns later, I simply eat another piece.

Once we moved to Big Rock Candy Mountain, however, I couldn’t find crystallized ginger in the local grocery, and the closest health food stores are over two hours away. At first, I decided to make my own. It’s not difficult: you just slice fresh, firm, dry ginger root, add sugar and water, and boil until the ginger is tender and the water turns into syrup. Then you strain and cool the ginger slices before rolling them in sugar. Time-consuming, but, honestly, easy-peasy. In addition to eating the crystallized ginger, I put a couple slices into my iced tea, water, seltzer, carbonated water, lemonade, smoothies, and even iced coffee. I love the taste, but when I’m nauseous, I’m usually also dehydrated or having a migraine attack, so putting the crystallized ginger into my beverages helps all the nasty symptoms I may be experiencing. At the rate I was eating my homemade crystallized ginger, I soon found it more convenient to purchase it online rather than drive to the big city every week.

Since I have severe allergies and migraine whose attacks can be triggered by many different foods additives or preservatives, I have to be very careful about which ginger products I buy. I can only have ginger root that has not been exposed to sulfites, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, or preservatives. I also prefer non-GMO and organic ginger. All of these products meet my stringent migraine and allergy requirements. I’ve listed each product’s ingredients based on its packaging in the most recent version I’ve bought rather than on any online listings since item’s actual ingredient list sometimes contain known allergens or migraine triggers. Here are a few of my favorite crystallized ginger products to relieve nausea.**

Caveat
Eating crystallized ginger or adding it to your beverages takes away your appetite along with your nausea. In fact, ginger root is such a strong appetite suppressant that it’s almost always one of the ingredients in herbal diet supplements. Fresh or crystallized ginger is a more powerful anorectic than any herbal diet pills, so if you have difficulty keeping weight on, you may want to monitor your intake of ginger.

Best Crystallized Ginger

Best Ginger For Beverages
No matter what kind of tea I having — black, green, rooibos, or herbal — I drop a couple slices of crystallized ginger into the bottom of the cup before I add the boiling water. If I have cold tea, I drop some slices into my glass before adding the ice. I don’t like too much sugar in my tea, and 2-4 crystallized ginger slices make it sweet enough for me. For my tea, whether hot or cold, I prefer NOW Foods Crystallized Ginger Slices, which contains ginger root, evaporated cane syrup, and cane sugar. NOW ginger is certified organic and verified non-GMO. NOW Foods brand is not dried out to the point of being hard, and it’s not too sugary. These slices give Perrier a very slight ginger ale flavor and are also excellent added to lemonade, limeade, or orange juice.

Best Ginger For Baking and For Smoothies
I’ve heard of people eating gingersnaps for nausea, but store-bought brands, even those with a strong ginger flavor, simply don’t have enough ginger to alleviate the fierce nausea that accompanies a migraine attack. Sometimes I make my own gingersnaps, and for that, I prefer NOW Food Brands Crystallized Ginger Dices, also certified organic and verified non-GMO.

Because they’re made for baking, the dices are shaped like little gumdrops, but not as sweet as candy. The dices are a little chewier than the slices and have slightly less sugar, but the taste is the same, and so is their anti-emetic and anorectic properties. The dices knock out nausea just as quickly as the slices, but because they’re smaller, I have to eat a whole handful to quell nausea. When I have a migraine, I often drink homemade smoothies as meals, and if I want crystallized ginger in my smoothies, I use the NOW dices because they get chopped and blended more easily.

Best Ginger For Eating
My favorite crystallized ginger for eating straight from the bag, whether to prevent nausea during the flu or a migraine attack, or throughout the day to keep my appetite under control, is Gerbs Organic Crystallized Ginger, sourced from Thailand. Made with ginger and cane sugar, Gerbs ginger comes in 2- or 4-pound resealable bags. Because Gerbs is a bit more expensive, I don’t like to put it in smoothies, tea, Perrier, etc., because its texture gets lost. Although both NOW and Gerbs crystallized gingers come in hefty slices, and though both are great for eating, Gerbs Organic Crystallized Ginger is slightly thicker and a bit moister. I keep some slices in a candy dishes on my desk and nightstand, as well as in an airtight jar on the kitchen counter, so that I always have some around if the nausea of a migraine attack begins.

Australian Crystallized Ginger

Top-Rated Crystallized Ginger
Based on articles and reviews of crystallized ginger by bakers, chefs, and cookbook authors, I tried Australian Crystallized Ginger, which is said to be the best in the world, and Thai Crystallized Candied Ginger. Both of these brands contain only cane sugar and ginger, and are free of sulphur (sulfites). These two brands of crystallized ginger are divine — sweet, very plump, and extremely moist. Both come in multiple pound bags. The Thai Crystallized Candied Ginger is especially sweet — very candy-like — though it is more ginger root than sugar and so, technically, is probably not “candy.” Because it’s actual ginger root, it quells nausea better than any “ginger candies” on the market: ginger candies are much like prepackaged gingersnaps — they may taste good, but they don’t have enough ginger to relieve nausea.

Thai Crystallized Candied Ginger

 

I wish I could buy these two brands all the time, but I found myself devouring these gingers even when I wasn’t nauseous, i.e., like candy. I went through several pounds of the Australian and Thai crystallized gingers so quickly that I didn’t have enough the next time I was nauseous from a migraine. Even my guy liked these brands of crystallized ginger, and he is a confirmed ginger-hater. If you don’t love crystallized ginger (or actually hate ginger in any form), Australian or Thai Crystallized Ginger might be the type you’d want to keep around the house to relieve nausea.

Ginger is the best natural remedy I’ve ever found to quell nausea, whether it’s from migraine, medications, motion-sickness, flu, or holiday overindulgence. It has none of the side-effects of pharmaceutical anti-emetics (prescription or OTC) and can be added to liquids so you ensure that you remain hydrated. Even if you’re not fond of ginger, you’ll find that crystallized ginger, which is often made from baby ginger, has little of the heat of restaurant stir-fry gingers and none of the bitterness. The only thing you may have to worry about with crystallized ginger is that you’ll like it so much, you’ll find yourself eating it like candy, whether or not you’re nauseous.


*Safety*
It’s generally regarded as safe to eat ginger — up to 1000mg per day. if you eat too much in one day, you might get heartburn or diarrhea, so start slowly. Also, ginger may be an anti-coagulant: consult your physican if you are on prescription blood-thinners, and do not consume any ginger products for two weeks before scheduled surgical procedures. (back to article)

**Caution**
If you experience unrelenting nausea, it may be a sign of an ulcer or of something more serious. If nausea is accompanied by vomiting, it may be food poisoning or gastritis. Please check with your health care provider if you have daily nausea that is not relieved by ginger or OTC anti-emetics. (back to article)

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Filed under chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, hemiplegic migraines, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines

How to Knock Out a Migraine with Infratonic 9 Sound Waves

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This post is written for the Infratonic 9,
but the same instructions will work for earlier Infratonics.

The Infratonic 9 (I-9), a sound wave device — (501(k) listed by the FDA as medical massage device) — by Sound Vitality, has effectively helped me reduce the pain and duration of my migraine attacks. This article is an excerpt from a longer article about when I first used the I-9 on a Hemiplegic Migraine. Many medical massage therapists have Infratonic sound devices, including the I-9, and for the price of the therapy visit, you can experience the Infratonic device yourself. If the therapists have earlier models, like the Infratonic 8000, etc, they look different, aren’t portable, and are quite a bit larger, but they work on the same principles.

If you want to know more about my experience with the I-9, and some of its features, you can read about that here. If the I-9 can reduce and even eliminate my migraine pain, then it’s much more valuable to me than all the pain medications in the world.  If it worked for me, it can also work for you. If you want to purchase an I-9 for your very own, you’ll happy to learn that you do not have to have a medical massage license to purchase a Sound Vitality’s Infratonic 9, and you do not need your physician’s recommendation or a prescription to buy one.

I’ve included very simplified drawings of the areas where I put the I-9 to treat my migraine. I’m an author, not an artist, but I’ve indicated the rough location of the areas I treated for migraine pain. If you want more detailed images of any of the nerves or muscles, you can find them in Wikipedia articles, on medical anatomy sites, or in acupressure images. Though I looked at detailed drawings to get an idea of where the branches of the trigeminal nerve were, I used my own pain and my own pre-existing knowledge of head/neck muscles as the greatest guide to Infratonic placement during my migraine.

I started with the I-9 on the first setting, Balancebut that didn’t seem to change the pain, either for better or worse, so I proceeded to the middle setting: Acute, where  I did most of my treatment. At the end of the day, I did at least 20 minutes on the Deep Calm, which did increase the pain somewhat, but only for a few minutes. I used the Deep Calm setting because it made me fall asleep.

Head

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Location of suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Crown of the Head (area A)
Imagine a line going from the top of one ear over your head to the top of the other ear, and imagine that line being intersected by a line coming from between your eyes, up your forehead to the top of your head. Where those two lines intersect is the crown of your head. That’s where I put the I-9. If that particular spot on the crown didn’t feel sensitive, I moved it very slightly around that crown area. Each time I found a spot that was more sensitive on the top of my head, I kept the I-9 there until that spot on my head lost its sensitivity.

Base of the Skull (area B)
Since the debilitating pain of a migraine comes from the inflammation of the trigeminal nerve’s upper branch, I wanted to put the I-9 on an area of my head as close to the base of the trigeminal nerve as well. It enters the brain from the spinal cord at the base of the skull and then divides into two branches, with one branch going to each side of the head. I put the I-9 on the base of the skull, in the center, for about an hour (I placed the I-9 on my pillow, fan-like vents facing up, and then lay down directly on it). Then I put the I-9 slightly to the left of center, and then slightly to the right of the center of the base of the skull, to get both branches of the trigeminal nerve, for 30-50 minutes each side. On both sides of the base of the skull, the muscles were extremely tight. Using the I-9 on each side for 30-50 minutes did not increase or decrease the pain of the migraine, but it made my neck less stiff and that made my neck and right shoulder hurt less.

Trigeminal Nerve

Even though I have migraine pain only on the right side of my head, I treated both sides of my head when I was treating the trigeminal nerve. 90% of the treatment time was on the right side, where I have the pain,  and the remaining 10% was on the left side.

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Trigeminal Nerve Root Location as suggested migraine treatment area by Alexandria ©

Trigeminal Nerve Root
On each side of your head, slightly in front your ear near the top of your upper jaw-hinge, is the trigeminal nerve root, where each branch of the trigeminal nerve divides again, this time into three distinct branches. I put the I-9 on the trigeminal nerve root area on both sides of my head, not just on the side where the migraine pain was. Putting the I-9 on the trigeminal nerve root on either side of my head caused the migraine pain on the right side to increase somewhat before it slowly decreased. Using the I-9 on the right trigeminal nerve root hurt a bit more than using it on the left, but using the I-9 on both sides of the trigeminal nerve root on caused the pain in my right temple, forehead, and top of head to increase. I treated both the trigeminal nerve root areas for at least an hour, until the migraine pain began to decrease.

Trigeminal Nerve Opthamalic Division

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Trigeminal Nerve Opthamalic Division Location suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Trigeminal Nerve Opthamalic Division
The trigeminal nerve branches from the root into three areas on each side of the head and face. The upper branch is called the Opthamalic Division, and it spreads out across the temples, down to the eye and nose, over the eyebrows, up across the forehead, and over the top of the head. It is this branch of the nerve that is responsible for my most severe migraine pain, so I treated this division of the nerve along its entire route. Wherever I felt pain, I put the I-9, and I left it in each painful area until the pain began to decrease. Though the pain never completely disappeared, I moved on to more painful areas each time the pain lessened. I repeated treatment of this section of the trigeminal nerve whenever the pain returned (sometimes, after I was treating a different part of my head or body for the migraine pain, the pain in this section of the nerve would suddenly increase).

Trigeminal Nerve Maxillary Division

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Trigeminal Nerve Maxillary Location suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Trigeminal Nerve Maxillary Division
The middle branch of the trigeminal nerve after it leaves the trigeminal root goes across your cheek, up to your eye, down to each of your upper teeth on that particular side, and to your top lip. While I don’t necessarily feel pain along that division of the trigeminal nerve during a migraine, I do feel intense pressure in that area, so I ran the I-9 over that entire area for at least an hour on the right side, and at least 30 minutes on the left side. (Note: though I do feel eye pain during a migraine, I didn’t feel safe putting the I-9 over my eyeball itself; instead, I put the I-9 on the bony area above and below my right eye for 10-20 minutes.)

Trigeminal Nerve Mandibular Division

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Trigeminal Nerve Mandibular Location suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Trigeminal Nerve Mandibular Division
The lower branch of the trigeminal nerve after it leaves the root goes down to your jaw and to each of the lower teeth in that side of your mouth. I’ve never had migraine pain in my lower jaw or teeth, and I don’t feel any pressure there. Still, the trigeminal nerve has three major branches from the main trunk of the nerve, so I didn’t think it would hurt to put the I-9 on the mandibular branch area, where I ran it for about 10 minutes on each side. It didn’t change my migraine pain, but it made my jaw muscles feel more relaxed.

Neck

Sternocleidomastoid Muscle

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Sternocleidomastoid Muscle Location suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
I was in a car accident in my early 20s and suffered a concussion and severe whiplash during which the sternocleidomastoid muscles (both sides) were damaged. Sometimes inflammation of that muscle can cause headaches, although I’m not aware that it triggers any of my migraine attacks.

You have to turn your head toward the opposite shoulder to make the sternal division of the muscle more pronounced: the clavicular division is partially behind the sternal division as it goes up your neck and attaches to your skull behind the ear. I did 10 minutes on each section of the right muscle, sternal and clavicular divisions, slowly moving the I-9 up and down the entire length from the collarbone to my skull behind the ear, and then I repeated this for 20 minutes on the muscles on the opposite side, even though I have never had a migraine on the left side of my head. It was very relaxing to use the I-9 on this muscle though it did not change the intensity of the migraine pain.

Trapezius Muscle

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Upper/Lower Trapezius Muscle Location suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Trapezius Muscle
I did both sides of the trapezius muscle, from the base of the head and top of the spine, down the neck, over to the shoulder. Though research indicates that neck pain is not a cause of migraine but, instead, a symptom of a migraine attack, these muscles always feel very tight during a migraine and make the lower back of my head hurt. Using the I-9 on the upper trapezius for 20 minutes on each side made that muscle feel noticeably more relaxed, which, in turn, reduced the pain and pressure near the base of my skull.

I felt no change in muscle tension or migraine pain when I treated the lower trapezius muscles, but I treated the lower muscles whenever I treated the upper muscles because they’re all connected. To treat the lower trapezius muscles, I put the I-9 on the bed, fan-like vents facing up, and lay down directly on the I-9. Whenever the pain in the base of my head returned during the migraine, or when those neck muscles felt tight, I re-treated that entire trapezius area with the I-9, making sure to cover both sides of my body even though the migraine pain is only on one side.

Posterior Cervical Muscles

Illustration © 123RF Stock Photos. Simplified Posteriror Cervical Muscle Location suggested migraine treatment areas by Alexandria ©

Posterior Cervical Muscles 
Research indicates that the painful neck muscles during a migraine are a symptom of the migraine attack rather than a trigger. In any event, my entire neck gets painfully stiff and uncomfortable during a migraine, so I put the I-9 under my head, at the base of my skull, so that the I-9 rested flat against the spine and those muscles, for about 20 minutes. I put the I-9 on the bed, fan-like vents facing up, and lay down directly on it. Then I moved to I-9 slightly to the left and right sides of the spine in the same general area to get all those posterior neck muscles. I ran it for 20 minutes in each area before moving it a bit lower and repeating the entire process: center over the spine, left side of spine, right side of spine, 20 minutes each. I continued that until I’d gone all the way down to the center of my back between the shoulder blades, where I felt no pain and, more important, no muscle tension.

I was careful to do both sides even though the right felt slightly tighter than the left. Though treating these muscles did not change the pain in my head, neither increasing nor decreasing it, the muscles were more relaxed afterward, and the mild pain in the base of my skull disappeared.

Additional Treatment Areas

Heart Center
*The only warning in the Infratonic 9 literature is to NOT put the I-9 anywhere near implanted pacemakers.*

At the suggestion of my medical massage therapist, I put the I-9 over my heart area (the center of my chest, actually) for at least 10 minutes. Putting it over the heart area for 10-15 minutes did not change the pain, but it made me feel calmer.

Under My Pillow At Night 
When I first used the I-9 and it made me sleepy, I turned it off and put it away. After I talked to the Director at Sound Vitality, she encouraged me to use the I-9 during sleep, all night long, leaving it under my pillow with the fan-like openings facing up toward my head. Sleeping with the I-9 made a dramatic and appreciable difference in the pain. By the next morning, the hemiplegic migraine had broken completely. (And I didn’t have to worry about the I-9 falling off the pillow and getting damaged.)

*Caution: Don’t use the I-9 under your pillow while it’s plugged in (charging). I did that early in the morning, about half an hour before I had to get up, and the device was noticeably and unconfortably warm when I removed it from under the pillow to unplug it.*

Disclosure:
My I-9 was purchased directly from Sound Vitality.
I received no compensation for this article.
The following ads contain affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you,
I may earn a commission if you click through the ads and make a purchase.

Sound Vitality I-9

I have not received any sort of compensation whatsoever for writing this article about my experience treating migraine with the Infratonic 9. I did all the research on sound healing, ultrasound, infrasound, and Chi-sound machines myself, before and after my Infratonic 9 was purchased. I learned all the suggested placements for pain relief and treatment from my own research and my own experience with the Infratonic 8000 and the Infratonic 9.

The Infratonic 9 is made by Sound Vitality, and you can buy it directly from their site. After you have the item in your cart, you can choose Pay with PayPal if you wish to pay in installments. You will then be taken to PayPal’s site, where PayPal handles all the financial information and installment arrangements. Otherwise, you pay with a credit or debit card.

The Infratonic 9 it is also sold by Sound Vitality through Amazon, which lists the same device three different times (all with the same price): for sports injuries, abdominal pain, and menstrual cramps. If you buy the Infratonic 9 from Amazon, Sound Vitality will be sending you your device.


Related Posts

The Alexandria Papers

How I Dramatically Reduce and
Eliminate My Migraine Pain

How to Knock Out a Migraine
with Infratonic 9 Sound Waves

Head-Bangers’ Ball:
Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

The Mighty

Why Getting a Medical ID Bracelet for
My Hemiplegic Migraines Made Me Depressed

5 Things Restaurants Can Do
to Eliminate Migraine Triggers

Migraine Mantras

This Is Your Brain on Migraine

What It’s Like to Live with  Hemiplegic Migraine,
Familial or Sporadic

by Alexandria and Wanda

For more of my migraine and chronic pain articles,
go to my Migraine / Chronic Pain page


Suggested migraine treatment areas for Infratonic 9 © 2018 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. You may print this post out for your own private, non-commercial use, but instructions must include copyright. Please do not distribute without attribution and copyright notice.  Please don’t support piracy of intellectual property.

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Filed under chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, health, hemiplegic migraines, Infratonic 8000, Infratonic 9, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines

Homemade Maple Granola

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For the past 13 months, my migraine attacks have been so frequent and so long-lasting, that I am beginning to fear they have become chronic. When this seemingly never-ending round began in April 2017, I thought it was due to stress from my car’s dying on the road and being irreparable. Though I got another car within 10 days, the migraine didn’t stop. “Reduce your stress,” said my doctor at every single now-monthly visit, until I was virtually living like a hermit with no apparent reduction in migraine pain or frequency. Several months ago, I began going through every single item in my kitchen, vowing to eliminate any food additives or artificial sweeteners that might be lurking in my meals. I went through my cookbooks and vowed to make everything from scratch. Everything. From scratch. So I would know every single ingredient that was going into my body. Unfortunately, every time I thought I’d found the offending trigger, and had a half-day’s respite, the migraine would return with furious anger.

In the meantime, however, I found lots of ways to enjoy food prepared as simply as possible, with very few sauces or condiments (unless I make them myself). One of my most exciting discoveries was that I could make my own granola. I love it over yogurt, as muesli (I eat mine with cold water, a hold-over from my years as a vegetarian and/or vegan back in the days when such conveniences as soy-milk were unheard of), or straight from my hand into my mouth. Most of the commercial brands are high-fat or, if low-fat, covered with honey. (I’m allergic to bees, and the last time I had some honey in baked goods, I ended up in the ER.)

I’m a big fan of Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen fame, and earlier this year, I treated myself to both her cookbooks. It was in her 2012 The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook that I found her recipe for Big Cluster Maple Granola (pp. 26-27), which you can also find online at Serious Eats.

Deb’s version is very fine, although the egg whites she uses for “clustering” made me a big nervous. I used her recipe as is the first time, and then, when it didn’t cluster despite the addition of the egg whites, I went off on my own and tinkered away, burning quite a few batches in the process.

I’ve finally mastered my own low-fat, vegan granola, and I cannot keep it in the house. And that was before I finally pronounced the recipe an actual success, wrote it down on the pages of Deb’s cookbook, and offered my guy a taste. I may have to start making more than one batch a week of this very fine granola.


Ingredients *
4 C old-fashioned rolled oats, uncooked (I use a generic brand)
1 C pumpkin seeds (kernels, shelled, no salt)
1 C flax seeds (whole)
⅔ – 1 C maple syrup (I started with the ⅔,  and finally settled on 1 C because of the extra ingredients
2 T olive oil (extra virgin, and be sure to taste it first: you want a slightly sweet taste, not a bitter one)
1 t Vietnamese cinnamon, ground (any kind of cinnamon will do, but Vietnamese has the best taste)
½ t sea salt (coarse or fine: both work)

Dried Fruit
½ C each dried blueberries, dried cherries, dried cranberries (or any mixture you wish)

Pre-heat oven to 300º F.

Combine all ingredients except the dried fruit in a large bowl and stir well until all the dry ingredients seem evenly coated with the liquid ingredients. Spread it on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. (This will work fine without parchment paper, but if you don’t have any parchment baking paper, do not use waxed paper instead: it will smoke — if it doesn’t catch fire — and will taint the granola.)


Bake for 20 minutes. **

Using a large spatula, carefully turn over the granola in sections: it browns on the underside and on the very edges. Rotate the pan to ensure even toasting.

Bake 15-20 minutes more.

If it looks like it needs a bit more browning, rotate the pan, turn the oven off, and “bake” for 5-7 more minutes, checking the granola every minute. It goes from it could be just a little browner to burnt, blackened, and ruined faster than you can imagine, so keep an eye on it.

When it looks light to medium brown, remove from oven. Set aside while you pour dried fruit into a heat-proof bowl. Mix the fruit slightly.

You do not have to wait for the granola to cool completely before mixing it with the dried fruit. In fact, I prefer mixing the warm-to-hot granola in with the dried fruit and letting the two parts mingle their flavors. You do what you prefer.

Lifting the ends of the parchment paper by both sides, slowly lift all the granola off the cookie sheet and pour it directly into the bowl of dried fruit. If you’re not using parchment sheet, you may have to spoon the granola into the bowl: the small seeds and toasty oatmeal scatter easily.

With a large mixing spoon, carefully stir until the dried fruit seems evenly distributed among the granola.

Serving Suggestions
Eat straight from the bowl (I mean, from the storage jar), serve mixed with yogurt, sprinkled over ice cream, or with milk (soy milk, almond milk, cold water, juice) as muesli for breakfast.

Storage
Store in an air-tight storage jar. Deb Perelman says hers lasts up to 2 weeks on the counter in the air-tight jars, but I’ve never had any granola left after a week.

And if you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know.

Related Posts

The Ultimate Comfort Food:
Potato Casserole


* I use Gerbs seeds and dried fruit because, although the dried fruit has a bit of sugar, it’s not very sweet, and all their products are non-GMO, vegan, and kosher. I get everything else at the grocery, and I use generic when I can find it.


** I’m high-altitude, about 8500 feet in the Rockies, so you may have to adjust your own baking time. Perelman’s original recommendation is 45-55 minutes at 300º F, turning/rotating etc. about half-way through.

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Filed under chronic pain, hemiplegic migraines, Insomnia, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Recipes

Head-Banger’s Ball: Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

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Trigger Warning
This post, though not graphic,
openly discusses childhood sexual abuse.

Life is unbearable,
but death is not so pleasant either.
Russian Proverb

I was dancing when it happened. After almost four years, I’d just had the braces removed from my legs and, in my joy at being free, I was dancing all around the kitchen and the empty dining room, wearing nothing but my panties and a camisole. My father was there, drinking beer, watching me, following me all around the house. I thought he was impressed with my improvised ballet skills. I don’t remember where my mother was, though I do know that it was late at night.

When my father grabbed me and began kissing me, I squirmed and twisted away. I wanted to dance, not kiss. Besides, I didn’t like the way he was kissing me, putting his nasty tongue all over my face and mouth. I fought hard enough to make him lose hold of me. When he tried to grab me again, I ran to the kitchen and got under the table, trying to hide.

Unfortunately, he found me.

My biological father first raped me when I was 3. My mother walked in when it was happening, and had to beat my father over the head to make him stop. Instead of taking me for medical attention, my mother told me I was a “bad girl” and locked me in the closet until I stopped crying. I don’t know how many days I was in that closet, but it seemed longer than any lifetime. I couldn’t understand what I’d done, but I vowed never to forget.

As soon as I earned my freedom from that closet, I  began telling people that my father had done something bad to me. I told family members, neighbors, doctors, nurses — anyone I thought could punish him. Anyone I thought could make him stop hurting me, which he continued to do. No one listened until I was 4 or 5 years old, when a Judge, in his chambers, asked me to show him — by pointing to my body — where my father was hurting me.

I don’t remember what events led up to that encounter in the Judge’s chambers, only that he was kind and patient, that he actually listened to me, and that after I talked to the Judge, my biological father lost all visitation rights. Furthermore, though I visited my father’s parents each weekend and though he now lived with them, he was not even permitted to be in the same room with me. I never saw my father again.

After my mother divorced my father, I thought I would be safe from men’s violence. Unfortunately, by the time I was 5, my mother was already dating a man who was sexually abusing me in every way imaginable, doing more atrocious things than my biological father had done. At the ripe old age of seven, after an entire lifetime of abuse from my mother, my father, and my mother’s boyfriend (who later became my stepfather), I decided that life was unbearable, so I decided to kill myself.

My only problem was that I wasn’t exactly sure how someone did that. During the last violent fight with my father, my mother had slammed him in the head with a cast-iron skillet. I’d seen him lying motionless on the floor, surrounded by a pool of blood. When the police arrived, my mother told them she’d killed her husband because he’d killed me. Though my father actually survived the assault, he was seriously injured. Because I never saw him again, I thought he was, in fact, dead. Since my mother had “killed” my father by bashing him in the head with the cast-iron frying pan, I decided, at the world-weary age of seven, to become a head-banger.

Swing-sets, telephone poles, brick houses. Fence posts, church pews, marble statues. Bang, bang, bang. Walls, bedposts, porch supports. Basement floors, steel pipes, tree trunks. Bang, bang, bang.

I hit my head so hard so many times in a row that mostly I walked around in a daze. Sometimes I hit my head so hard that I fell asleep. Each time that head-banging numbness rushed over me, I was convinced I’d successfully killed myself, and I was so relieved and so grateful that I could never be hurt again that I slipped into that deadened sleep with something like joy.

Each time, however, I woke up.
Disappointed.
With an unbearable headache.
And with dreadful pressure in my skull.

Although many people know that a baby’s skull plates move — to allow it to pass through the birth canal — they don’t realize that the plates of the skull remain mobile throughout life. The brain and the spinal cord, furthermore, are surrounded by their own pulsing, hydraulic system that does not match the rhythm of the heart, breathing, or any other system of the body. Dr. John Upledger discovered this brain-spinal-cord hydraulic system and named it the “craniosacral system.” Upledger went on to develop a medical massage therapy designed to put the craniosacral system back in proper alignment.

When the plates of the skull are not in their proper position, as from any common injury such as bumping the head hard, then headaches and pressure inside the skull (from the non-circulation of craniosacral fluid) may occur. A severe head trauma, or even a minor fall from a slide or swing, can shift or jam the skull plates, preventing the craniosacral fluid from moving as it is designed to do, creating a tremendous build-up of pressure — and pain — inside the skull. The pain and the pressure will only stop when the skull plates are restored to their normal positions, something that may take many sessions with trained craniosacral therapists, especially if the skull plates have been jammed for years after some serious accident.

Of course, in my case, it was many accidents, some of them caused by my repeated head-banging at age 7, some of those accidents caused by my mother from the time I was born, but one of the most serious head injuries caused by my father during an argument with my mother.

My parents were both drunk the day it happened. They were standing in the living room, quite close to each other, screaming and shoving and hitting each other. My father suddenly shouted something that made my mother jump at him, clawing at his face. Then he began choking her. Since what he’d shouted had been about me, I must have felt, even at three years old, morally obligated to separate them. So there I was, shoving myself between their knees, trying to push them apart so they wouldn’t kill each other and leave me all alone to be sent to an orphanage.

In his drunken rage, my father must have perceived me as quite a pest, something you just fling away from you. So that’s what he did. He grabbed me under the arms, lifted me as high as he could, and flung me away. I remember the sudden rush of air as he swept me upward, the terrible, mind-numbing fear, the choking sensation I felt as he released me and I flew, without a net, across the room.

I remember the horrific jolt of pain as I smashed the upper right side of my head against the marble mantel of the fireplace.

I remember, too, the cold blackness that descended on me in an instant.

By the time my migraines got so debilitating that my family doctor recommended I go to craniosacral therapists, I was over forty years old. As soon as they touched my head, the medical therapists informed me that the right frontal skull-plate was “significantly jammed” under the left one. It was wedged under the other one so tightly, they couldn’t fix it in one treatment. Also, since it was a long-standing injury, they informed me, the muscles of my face and head had gotten used to holding the plate in the incorrect position. They agreed with the doctor that, though my tendency toward migraines was probably hereditary * as well, the jammed frontal skull plate wasn’t making the migraines any better.

The therapists warned me that, as they attempted, over several sessions (which turned into several months), to free the wedged cranial plate from under the other one, my migraines might get much worse before they improved. They were absolutely right. I’d been having about seventeen migraines a month when I went to see them. The first month of treatment, I had twenty-seven migraines. It took them five months of three-times-a-week sessions to get the jammed skull plates back into place.

When the skull plates moved back into their proper positions, the intense and unremitting pressure in my head disappeared. The pressure that I’d grown up with and assumed was normal had been caused by the craniosacral fluid’s inability to circulate freely around the skull plates and the spinal column. As soon as the right frontal plate slid free of the left one, the crushing pressure inside my head disappeared. I lay on the massage table and wept in gratitude and relief.

When I told my psychologist about all the times I’d banged my head when I was a little girl, trying to kill myself, she said she doubted that I’d really been attempting to commit suicide. She said that since I was so determined and so successful in other areas of my life, if I’d really been trying to kill myself, I probably would have succeeded. She said that I’d been in so much emotional and psychological pain that I was merely trying to medicate myself. Since I didn’t have any healthy coping skills, I’d banged my head against the hardest things I could find, to “numb” my pain.

I still maintain that I was trying to kill myself in order to escape the incessant torture from my mother and my rapist stepfather, and to atone for my father’s murder, which I believed I’d caused since my parents had been fighting about me when my mother “killed” my father with the cast-iron skillet.

You see, that day, when my mother killed my father by slamming him in the face with the skillet, they were fighting about me. That day, when my father said the words that sent my other into her uncontrollable rage — making her scratch his face, which then made him choke her — he was talking about me. The words he said were what I myself had been saying to my mother, family members, neighbors, and doctors for some time, though I said it like this: He does bad things to me.

That day, my father said it to my mother himself, despite her already knowing what he was doing to me, but he said it in a way that she couldn’t ignore. I didn’t understand what he meant, but I always remembered his exact words.

“Sascha’s a better fuck than you are.”

Bang, bang, bang.

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* Familial Hemiplegic Migraines (FHM) are caused by a genetic neurological disorder. I have FHM as well as from Complex Migraines.
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Note: a different version of this post was published in March 2017. This version has been updated.

a small portion of this post is adapted from my true crime memoir M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door © 2002, 2007, 2014, 2017 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved. No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without express written consent of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author. Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property.

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Filed under #CSA, Attempted Suicide, Childhood Sexual Abuse, hemiplegic migraines, Memoir, migraines, PTSD, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, Violence