Thursday, September 10, 2009

“Holy Chelating Thistle Milk, Batman!”

I have been suffering a general malaise for the last couple of days and I haven’t been able to figure out what was causing it. I thought maybe it was empathetic sympathy, or something psychosomatic, or a dietary variation of some kind, or maybe just a lightness of blood. I thought, “Well, maybe I should let my readers decide what my ailment is by relating the events of the past few days.” I realize that this invitation may be more than what the Comcast server can handle, but I will blaze ahead untrammeled. The service cannot be much slower than it already is.

A day or so ago, my youngest daughter posted a blog in which she related, with rather vivid detail, her adventures of the day. This included a description of a grievous laceration while washing a fragile piece of glassware and the subsequent medical attention that she received. I was not a little disturbed by this, inasmuch as I get just a little queasy when I nick myself with my razor. The poking, prodding and sewing lesson made me just a little faint. Had this not been followed by a realistic depiction of her own daughter’s projectile hurling episode, I might have survived the reading. I was completely worn out by the time I got to the end. Someone suggested that maybe I picked up what Eva had. I thought not, because I had managed to put myself into the Lotus position in my den when the clan arrived at the house for the wash-down of the car, the car seat, and little Eva. I find that when one of my grandchildren is in mortal agony, Buddhism is the only remedy.

About that same time (that is, a day or so ago and not during the Eva-agony) I decided to watch another episode of Star Trek TOS. I am near the end of the third season and am probably now looking at a shot at the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica once I am done. So I have been diligently watching Kirk and the boys do their thing. There is in the third season an episode called “The Way to Eden”. The plot involves a group of 23rd century hippies trying to find a lost planet where everything is beautiful, where the deer and the antelope are playing all day. As it turns out, the hippies anticipated the deer and the antelope by filling every scene with some sort of musical interlude. In the middle of all of this, Trillium walked through the room and said, “This is awful!”

I replied, “Of all of the episodes this is by far and away the worst. When the guitar player dies in the end, having eaten of the poisonous fruit of the planet Eden, there is a noticeable cheer from the production company.”

“Why are you watching it then?”

“I am a Trekkie. Trekkies take the good with the bad. But I would like a piece of that Eden-fruit right now.” I may have cursed myself in jest. I have not been well since.

I considered that perhaps other aspects of my diet may have had something to do with my lack of well-being. My breakfast that day had been composed of two pieces of rye bread toast and two glasses of 1% milk. I discounted that as the source of my problems inasmuch as I have that just about every morning. For lunch I had an entire head of lettuce, cut into four pieces, and slathered in blue cheese dressing. I decided that it was not the lettuce because I have that item frequently at mid-day. The dressing? What could possibly be wrong with a condiment laced with a boat load of mold? In the evening I had a 14 ounce rib-eye steak, perfectly grilled on our brand-new four burner barbeque, followed by freshly sliced peaches on angel-food cake covered in Cool Whip. Nothing evil there!

That leaves us with lightness of blood. Is it possible that my body is reacting to the fact that I now have less than 20% of the original amount of iron that filled my organ tissues a year ago? Could it be that I am going through withdrawal? Am I experiencing iron deficiency anemia? In the midst of my own personal agony last night, however, I discovered that “Doc Holliday” and I have been going at this hemochromatosis thing all wrong.

Last night I wended my way over to the church for a series of Boy Scout Boards of Review. The Krrrrakin was there and after I mentioned that I was feeling poorly, he said, “Oh! I have something for you from Calypso. I should have given this to you months ago, but it got lost among my tentacles.” He then handed me a rather moist piece of paper. It was an article from the Wright Newsletter, entitled “How you can benefit from the 3 things I never knew about milk thistle”. Wow! Am I in the mood to learn!

The third revelation in this little essay by Kerry Bone states that a group of Italian scientists (not to be confused with the German ones who determined how many skin cells are sloughed off by the human population of the earth every day) had discovered that “silybin”, a plant chemical found in milk thistle, could be used as a holistic method of removing iron from hemochromatosis patients. Dr. Bone reports that by ingesting 600 mg of silymarin every day (200 mg three times a day) a patient with hepatitis C can reduce his or her serum ferritin by 15%. Now, there are several things that troubled me about this procedure even before I went online to do a little research of my own.

First, how do you think the Italians would pronounce “silybin”? That’s right! “Sillybean”! Boy, that fact really breaths a lot of confidence into the theory! Second, how does one go about milking a thistle? The plants here in Utah are huge and they are physiologically opposed to anyone dinking around with them. Even with heavy leather gloves on I have found myself filled with spines as I have tried to pull the little hummers out of the ground. Thirdly, I don’t think I am really prepared to contract a bad case of hepatitis C just to download a little iron.

As it turns out, however, the seeds of the milk thistle (I think that I shall forevermore call these “sillybeans”) have long-established medicinal value, particularly in cases of liver damage. It has also been useful in treating those people whose eyesight is so poor that they cannot distinguish edible mushrooms from the Amanita or Death Cap mushrooms. “Sillybeans” can help with lowering cholesterol, with checking effects of type II diabetes, with reducing growth in prostate cancers, with reducing the deleterious effects of a hangover, and with ameliorating withdrawal symptoms of those addicted to opiates, particularly during the Acute Withdrawal Stage. Since the Miracle Whip Institute suggests that these are all viable applications for the “Sillybean”, it must be true.

With regard to the value of milk thistle in treating iron-overloading there is a virtual war raging in cyberspace. My buddy “wpat007” shovels down milk thistle every day. Some doctors support him, others think of him as dancing on the edge of eternity. Frankly, being somewhat familiar with the practices of Buddhism, I think that we should all take the “middle road”. Along with everything else that I have discovered about the plant, I have learned that many parts of the milk thistle are edible. Here are a couple of ancient recipes which I will probably try the next time a milk thistle pops its ugly head up in one of my planters:

“Around the 16th Century this plant became quite popular and almost all parts of it were eaten. The roots can be eaten raw or boiled and buttered or par-boiled and roasted. The young shoots in spring can be cut down to the root and boiled and buttered. The spiny bracts on the flower head were eaten in the past like globe artichoke, and the stems (after peeling of course) can be soaked overnight to remove bitterness and then stewed. The leaves can be trimmed of prickles and boiled and make a good spinach substitute, they can also be added raw to salads.”

Yummy! So like Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus, you too can have the best of both worlds.


Rebecca said...

Very funny! I think I will get some Thistle Milk for Victor or maybe some silly beans... :)

Anonymous said...

I think YOU'RE a sillybean! I like trying herbal things, so maybe after I have my baby, I will see what milk thistle can do. :)
So, is that why you didn't post a comment on my blog? You were to grossed out? I should have figured. :P

Trillium said...

Some of the more exotic religious types probably also lie on a bed of thistles or walk on a bed of burning thistles. There may even be some health benefits involved with such practices.... Silly Beans indeed! LOL

W.Pat said...

Your buddy “wpat007” has not been shoveling down milk thistle every day. I haven't had any in a while but am ready to start again. I think it puts me in a better mental state. I was surprised to see myself mentioned. I enjoyed readin the blog.


Larsens said...

One time my mom called me and told me that she had been feeling poorly lately. First thing I asked her what she had been eating and she told me that she had 4 pieces of fresh rye bread, a glass of buttermilk and some cabbage soup. Needless to say, she was a ticking time bomb.
Maybe you should lay off the rye bread and the blue cheese dressing combo. Just a thought.