Thursday, 17 February 2011

Does Reiki Cure Migraines?

A friend of mine was training to be a reiki practitioner and wanted someone to practice on.  I am a huge skeptic when it comes to alternative medicines.  Especially following my laughable exploits with allergy tests.  But, I also have an open mind and I really want some of these therapies to work.  That way life would become that little bit more magical.  So I said yes, let's give it a go.  The fact that she was rather attractive didn't sway my decision to help out at all.  No really... not at all.

For those of you who don't know (from wiki), reiki uses a technique commonly called palm healing as a form of complementary and alternative medicine.  Practitioners believe that they are transferring healing energy in the form of ki through the palms. Localised reiki treatment involves the practitioner's hands being held on or near a specific part of the body for a varying length of time.

My friend get's to my place and we turn the lights down low and put on some relaxing music.  If I recall it was a rain-forest version of Pachelbel's Canon so at least, if it doesn't work, I can have a relax.  I lay down on my back on the floor and she kneels next to me.  She started by placing her hands over my forehead.  Then on the back of my head and to the sides.  She says that I have a strong chakra which I thank her for without really knowing what she means or whether that's a good thing to have or not.  Her hands move down either side of my right arm.  Her hands always hovering above my body and never touching it (except the back of my head which she had to hold up).

By this point I was starting to realise that this so called treatment wasn't really up to much.  I don't know what I was expecting to feel as I was in my late 20's and fairly fit and healthy at the time.  There was no tingling.  No spiritual uplifting.  No veil being lifted.  I didn't even consider my headaches an issue at the time and never mentioned them to her.  It was purely for her to practice on me.

Then her hands hovered over my stomach and it rumbled viciously.  "They always do that," she says.  "Something to do with the energy transfer."  But I wasn't convinced as my stomach had a history of grumbling.  Her hands continued their floating journey past each limb and joint.  Then she got to my right knee.  She stopped to focus on this joint and I felt it warm up.  I glanced down and she was definitely not touching my knee.  One hand was over my knee and the other was palm down on the floor.  This is to ground the energy if it starts to build up to much.  By now my knee joint was burning and I had a strong sensation to bend my leg as if the tendons were being tightened.  Her hands moved on and so did the feeling.

Working her way around my body the same thing, albeit slightly less sensational, happened to my left knee.  After the treatment I got up and only then realised how good my knees felt.  I had (and still do but to a lesser extent thanks to this treatment) a habit of sitting with my knees bent with my legs folded underneath my body.  This put a huge strain on the joints and they always ached when I got up.

So what is my conclusion about whether reiki works?  Did it help my headaches?  I'm not sure.  I have tried it a few times recently with the emphasis purely on my migraines and it hasn't done anything for them.  But, after the treatment my knees felt great for a good 3 or 4 months.  A real and definite improvement.  This was a double blind test as neither I nor my friend knew that there was anything wrong with me.  She managed to trace and fix a problem which could have got a lot worse (he says uncrossing his legs).  It's simple...  Reike really does work.  And the world is a little bit more magical for it.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Allergy Tests and Diaries

Alternative health expert number one was allergy testing.  Not via the doctors as they don't like providing them.  You are what you eat so I was sure that the pain must be caused by something I was eating. Remember, I still didn't know that they were migraines, just bad headaches.

I was ushered to a low couch in a room behind a chemists and told to undress my left foot. A strange start, but what the hey! I was given a metal bar to hold whilst the specialist, and I use the term sparingly here, held my foot on her lap. The metal bar was connected to a strange contraption containing test tubes of clear liquid. A wire connected this to a metal pen which completed the contraption. Each vial of liquid was in turn placed into the main hole. For each one, she moved the metal pen down the inside of my big toe as if she were drawing a line from top to bottom. Each stroke made the machine emit a whining sound which would progressively get higher. Apparently, the degree of change in sound was dependent on the resistance between my hand, the vial of liquid and my toe. The higher the whine, the less resistance which was good (I think). If the whine petered out before reaching it’s zenith it meant that there was something in my body that blocked the signal. That would be what I was allergic to.  Or it could just mean that she didn't move the pen quite as far, thus giving the impression of an allergy (I know, I must stop being a cynic, but I just can't help myself).

It didn’t go that well and I did feel a little bit sorry for her.  The first item of resistance was pork. That was a bad start as I am Jewish and therefore have never eaten pork. I could see the quizzical look on her face as one eyebrow lifted slightly. however she bravely moved on to the next vial. Lots of high whines ensued until the next low whine which was caffeine. Another problem as I don’t drink coffee, or tea, or coke, or anything with caffeine in .
“Are you sure?” she asked, hoping that I might have forgotten about a recent caffeine binge.
"Nope, not a drop". I answered and added "Sorry," as I felt guilty that I hadn't been drinking coffee by the bucket load. She needed to finish on a high with a safe win whine and got it with grass seeds. I do have hey fever, but then so do a lot of people.

As the test came to an end she seemed to forget the questionable results and advised that I go on a wheat free diet for one month and keep a food diary. I left the little room and entered the chemist on the way out and happened to overhear an older couple chatting about which wheat free items would be best for them. I wonder how many people with many varied ailments were advised to go on this same diet.  I tried the diet and it wasn’t as difficult as it seemed, but it made no difference to the headaches.

The diary was a help though. It identified that I have an intolerance to dairy which I never knew about before. I just thought that I was a naturally flatulent person! Cutting out cheese also seemed to help reduce the frequency of the headaches. So maybe the treatment was worth the money after all!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Migraines at a young age

I am pretty sure that I have suffered from migraines since I was a kid.  They were only self-diagnosed as such 5 years ago, but I know that I suffered with them for a long time before that.  The memory does fade slightly as to when they started.  I remember going to the doctor with my mum as a kid as I had jaw ache a lot.  Mum thought that maybe I had too many teeth all vying for space or that there was a problem with the alignment of my jaw.  The doctor we saw was a doctor from the old school.  A very old school.  He was like an old, kind, but misguided wizard.  After sitting behind his large wooded desk and listening to our story, he turned to face a plethora of ancient books, some without names, which covered the entire wall behind him (at least that's how I remember it as a kid).  From one shelf behind him he dragged out a particularly large book, blowing the dust from the top before opening the cover.  He moistened his index finger and thumb by licking them with his parched tongue, which looked as old as the books.  Peering over the top of his glasses he slowly turned the large pages.  By contrast, my current doctor googles for answers, although I am not commenting on which is the better method.

His conclusion was that I grind my jaw at night and would need a mouth guard to stop this from happening.  I knew that I wasn't grinding my jaw but was so in awe of this caricature of himself, that my mouth refused to budge from being tight shut.  Thankfully, whilst driving home, my mother listened and we never did get the mouth guard for me to wear at night to stop this mythical grinding from taking place.

Fast forward a decade or two. I can't remember getting much pain after that until I was in my 20's.  By then I just thought that I was getting headaches.  Must be too much work, or too little sleep.  The childhood jaw ache was long forgotten about.  Over the counter drugs never even dented the pain.  I wasn't the sort to go to the doctors, but in hindsight, that is exactly what I should have done.  It got to the stage where I had more days in pain than not.  I learned to deal with it and get on with my life.  I worked my way though many kooky methods to just to try and get a clear day without the pain.  Run to the top of the stairs and grab hold of the banister. Swing up and down and round and round to stretch my shoulder joints and pull out the pain.  Bang my head against the wall to knock the broken bit back into place.  I used to have an old computer where you had to hit the side of it to make it turn on.  I guess that I was applying that same logic to my head.  Needless to say, these methods never worked.

The worry was that it might be more than a simple headache.  I would analyze myself for other symptoms.  My vision was always clear, although it did hurt to re-focus from near to far.  My hearing was always clear and noise never made the pain worse or better.  No tingling in my fingers or toes.  Heart beat strong and unwavering.  Fitness level as good as it ever had been.  I was stuck in limbo, waiting for the pain to go, or something else to go wrong.  Always scared to visit the doctorsas they might tell me something that I don't want to hear.

Thus began a long and ongoing treck to find the perfect cure.  What I did do was visit alternative health experts.  I use the term expert sparingly and will explain why in my next blog...