Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Basil, sweet basil: the lupus accommodations we make.

I think I’m going to do it. I think I’m going to try some basil.

Years ago, when my random angioedema incidents were high and oh-so-annoying (you can read about them here and here), I tried everything to uncover the triggers. I had my trusty spreadsheet, of course, and I logged food, drink, exercise, weather, work, sleep, etc. etc. And, it turned out, that there seemed to be an uncanny amount of swellings on days when I would ingest…drumroll, please…fresh basil. In fact, it seemed that anytime I had fresh herbs – of the spinach, arugula, and basil variety, in particular – I would have an incidence of angioedema.

So once I made this connection, you can imagine how quickly I cut out all fresh herbs from my diet. And it made a difference. At least, I think it made a difference. My swellings went away, but I was also making a few other changes at the same time, like cutting out wine and most dairy from my diet, along with employing major stress-reducing tactics, as I think those three things were culprits, too.

While my dairy abstention didn’t last all that long, the zero tolerance for wine and fresh herbs made it for quite a long time. I still haven’t guzzled (or sipped, for that matter) a glass of wine, but I no longer shy away from food where a sauce is made with white or red wine. It doesn’t seem to have any effect in such small doses, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about when eating out.

As far as fresh herbs, I’ve slowly re-introduced most of them – but kept those major three (Spinach, Arugula, and Basil) as no-no’s. (I can do frozen spinach, but fresh has still been off limits.) For anyone who’s suffered at the hands of an angioedema incident, particularly in a prominent location like one’s face, you just aren’t willing to mess with success. Life without random swellings is a beautiful thing – fulfilling, enjoyable, and all that. I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing without S.A.B. in my life...but now that I’ve been incident free for so very long, I’m starting to get curious (or is that cocky?)

So I'm considering trying some basil. It's not like I'll start with a triple-decker basil sandwich, but a little pesto might be interesting. We were at a friend's house for dinner just the other night, and she served a side of yummy-looking pesto pasta...and it made me think that it might just be time to experiment. 

Or maybe not. When I just typed the word "experiment", I got a not-so-funny feeling in my stomach. (But I guess at least it wasn't a swelling sensation in my lip.) Now that I've said it out loud, "experimenting" with anything that could mess with a currently-dormant symptom of lupus doesn't sound very appealing. 

Wow. That didn't take long. 

I guess I'm going to have to keep you posted on this one. I think my basil project might have just been temporarily postponed, due to poor word choice by the writer. 

Oh well. The good news is that, just like with other lupus accommodations, life will go on. The world hasn't gone to pieces every afternoon when I nap. Nor has anyone suffered terribly when I limit my sun exposure. So whether or not a fresh basil leaf sees the inside of the Gorman household this year is immaterial...I shall carry on living well...and angioedema-free! 


Anonymous said...

Your posts are always so informative. I realize the basil/angiodema link is probably a very individual thing, but reading about this really drives home the importance of tracking symptoms along with lifestyle/diet and analyzing the data. I've got to start doing this! I try to jot down a few notes about symptoms most days, but not in a chart that I can easily use to analyze trends. And I often forget to note some symptoms. If I were looking at a complete list and had to check of whether or not I experienced each one, every day, maybe my data would be more accurate! Again, I've GOT TO motivate myself to sit down and create a spreadsheet like yours...

Cassie said...

I agree! I keep reading Sara's suggestions about the spreadsheet but then, think my S&Ss aren't bad enough. A couple of days go by and the swelling,pain, etc starts and I wonder why I didn't get going with the spreadsheet! We both need to GET GOING!

Sara Gorman said...

well - I can't say the spreadsheet if for everyone, but if I can help either of you in attempting one, let me know! I had such luck with it - and I hope you might, too!

Also note that I started maybe even jotting down a few major symptoms or side effects on the side of a piece of paper and then marking them off every day might help. At least it would be a start, and you don't need anything but a pencil and a piece of paper. :)

Gwyn Pasterchek said...

Yes, all of those are of a night shade variety. Paprika is also a no-no. Alcohol, tobacco, refined sugars should be very sparse in the diet. gluten can cause inflammation, but that varies from person to person. A vegetarian diet with a little light meat thrown in on the side once or twice a day is best, while adding in the beneficial herbals and minerals for the RA side of things. Some spice is good, too - it releases endorphines which are your brain's natural pain reliever, but too much is unsettling to the digestive system.
If you have rash and want a natural remedy, steep Arnica flowers in sweet almond oil in a jar and use the oil on the rash. Oil needs a very light warming with the flowers in it (not over 120 degrees) and then set on a shelf sealed for a few weeks. I mixed mine with a little melted beeswax to make it like a salve. Works well for skin inflammation, rash and topical pain.
Meditation for pain waves- it's about focusing on the breath.
Lupus is an aggressive bugger - medications are pretty necessary, but with a very consistent mind set on holistic remedies, relief from some of the symptoms can help just get through one day at a time. :)

Sara Gorman said...

These are great recommendations! Thanks so much for sharing so much information. I totally agree that with a holistic approach, in combination with appropriate medications, lupus can be somewhat manageable. Usually.:) Thanks so much!