30 December 2007

The Sunday Supplements

I don't take prescription drugs on a regular basis. In fact, knock wood, I can't remember the last time I had to have a prescription filled. Jerry lays out tabs of B and C plus a multi-vitamin every morning. I gulp mine down with orange juice, unconsciously. On those rare occasions when one of us is away, I don't take, or miss, them. Considering what some of my friends have to deal with, I'm damned lucky, I know.

Even back in my tie-dyed granola days, I never got into spirulina, kelp extract, bee pollen, brewer's yeast or any of the other miraculous dietary supplements you could scoop out by the ounce from the dusty bins at the natural food store or the Co-op. (Has anyone ever done a public health study on hippie health food store bins as a vector for food-borne illness?)

Eventually, middle age and the onset of menopause led me to soy and calcium supplements, for hot flashes and bone loss, respectively. I finished a bottle of the soy stuff last week and decided to forego it unless I start flinging off clothes without warning again, which Jer is kind of hoping that I do.

About a year ago, though, arthritis began interfering with my carefree, cartwheeling, extreme-sports (just kidding) lifestyle. It hurt to turn my neck, okay? I went back to physical therapy, did (and continue to do) the prescribed exercises, and acquired my very own traction device. All of this helped quite a bit. My primary care doc was of the opinion that glucosamine/condroitin wouldn't hurt and might prove beneficial; MoveFree (tm) brand at Costco, he told me, was the cheapest source for that. So now I'm taking the same joint meds as our geriatric cat.

It takes a month or more, apparently, for glucosamine/condroitin to kick in. I felt no improvement after six to eight weeks, and was on the verge of giving it up, when I read in The Oregonian that golden raisins steeped for several days in gin were a proven folk remedy for arthritis. The dose -- I love the precision here -- was nine raisins per day. I knew I was adding another X variable to my experiment in arthritis relief, but what the hell. I could take them at cocktail hour; it would add a festive note to the day.

Here's the weird part. Almost immediately, like within two days, the pain and stiffness in my neck was 90% gone. I don't know whether the MoveFree (I always want to say MoveOn, but that's a curative force in another sphere entirely) had finally kicked in, or some synergistic effect was at work, or the gin-and-raisin nostrum, in itself, actually has some near-miraculous powers. The researcher in me says "do a controlled experiment," but I don't wanna. I feel better now than I did for months; why mess with what might be an effective, albeit delicately-balanced, therapeutic regimen?

Actually, there's a third variable. A couple of months ago I got email from a friend touting her son-in-law's company's anti-aging breakthrough: a protein derived from jellyfish. I can hear your eyes rolling; mine did, too. But Linda offered to send me a sample (I'm a sucker, no pun intended, for freebies), and I'll be damned. Within a week, I felt perkier, less sluggish both physically and intellectually, and my residual neck angst was down to maybe 2%. This isn't an infomercial, but it's called Prevagen (tm), and if they'd like to send me a truckload, I wouldn't object.

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