Monthly Archives: June 2009

New Trigger in Rheumatoid Arthritis Discovered

bluegreenmicroscopeAccording to new research published June 28, 2009 in Nature Medicine, scientists have uncovered one molecular switch that triggers the immune system to attack the joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis.   The authors of the study from Imperial College London state that blocking this signal may provide effective arthritis treatments in the future. Approximately 1 percent of the population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis the most common autoimmune disease.  About half of all patients are not responding to the current treatments available today.  Research scientists working on this study state that stopping this disease closer to the root of the problem could possibly be the best way to treat the disease.  The results from their study suggest a new direction for therapies.

In healthy people when a microbe invades the body the immune system responds by turning on a molecular switch that sends the immune system into action to protect the body from disease.  In this study, the signal molecule called tenascin-C can trigger the same molecular switch and activate the immune system.  High levels of this signal molecule tenascin-C in joints may cause the activated immune system to attack the joint tissue that leads to persistent inflammation that is common in rheumatoid arthritis.  The molecular switch is called TLR4.  It is found on the surface of the immune cell and in prior research mice without TLR4 do not show chronic joint inflammation.

The researchers in this study are hopeful that scientists can develop new treatments that target the interaction between tenascin-C ( the signal molecule ) and TLR4( the molecular switch ). This may help to combat rheumatoid arthritis.  Dr. Kim Midwood, the head author of this study from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Imperial College in London states that “We have uncovered on way that the immune system may be triggered to attack the joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. We hope our new findings can be used to develop new therapies that interfere with tenascin-C activation of the immune system and that these will reduce the painful inflammation that is a hallmark of this condition.”

The researchers conducted 5 studies.  One study suggests that tenascin-C is needed to sustain inflammation.  They produced joint inflammation in mice with and without the gene for tenascin-C and found that the mice without the gene for tenacin-C showed no swelling or tissue distructions however the mice with the gene that could produce tenascin-c had severe swelling in the joint and bone and cartilage damage.  In a later study, mice joints were injected with the active part of the tenacin-C molecule. Researchers found that it caused the joints of the mice to become inflamed and with higher doses the reaction was more intense. In another study, scientist found that by taking human immune cells called macrophages and fibroglasts from the swollen joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and adding tenascin-C the cells produced more molecules that cause inflammation.The study authors are planning on working out the exact mechanism in tenacin-C that increases these levels of inflammation in the joint and explore way to inhibit it.

President Obama – Your Turn: Join the National Online Discussion on Health Care Reform

The President of the United States of America is inviting us all to join in the National online discussion on health care reform.  This is an issue that will effect all of us at one time or another.  It is especially important for those of us with chronic diseases.  One thing seems very clear as it is right now the health care system does not work for all our citizens equally.  Health insurance cost have risen to almost unattainable rates while coverage for benefits has dwindled over the past ten years.  Whether you agree with President Obama or not this is your opportunity for you to share your ideas and concerns with the President and the American public via youtube

President Obama is asking for us to submit our questions and concerns via youtube by July 1, 2009.  Questions or concerns are limited to a  20 – 30 second submission. The President will address as many questions and concerns as possible in an online Town Hall format.

Oriental Orange Chicken Salad

oriental chicken salad-smI haven’t added a recipe in a quite a while so today I thought I would share one of my favorite salads.  This is a nice light summertime dish that won’t weigh you down on the hottest of days. We enjoy it  for either lunch or dinner and the kids really love it. On the rheumatoid arthritis front this salad has garlic, ginger, vitamin C, folic acid, omega 3’s and  beta carotene.  All of which are good for fighting inflammation.


1 Tablespoon Minced Ginger

1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic ( about 2-3 cloves depending on the size of the cloves)

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce ( a good quality soy sauce like Tamari is best )

1 Cup Orange Juice

1 Tablespoon Orange Zest

Put all the above ingredients in a zip close bag ( gallon size is probably best)


Prepare 2 full skinless boneless chicken breast by trimming away any excess fat. Place chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and take out any anger and aggression you have about having  rheumatoid arthritis out on your chicken.  I use a metal mallet so that I don’t have to use a lot of muscle to pound the chicken out.  Pound the chicken to about 1/2 inch thickness. Add chicken to the marinade and zip up plastic bag making sure to squeeze out any excess air and place in refrigerator while preparing the salad.


You can use whatever salad greens that make you happy.  When I made this recipe today for lunch.  I used the lettuce and spinach from the garden.  If you don’t feel like cutting up salad greens getting the prepackaged stuff will work just as well.

2 Large Carrot peeled and julienned  ( My son gave me an oxo julienne peeler that makes the process easy with very little effort ) or you can buy prepackaged stuff

2 Cup shredded Red Cabbage

2 Oranges Supremed (How to supreme and orange) or if it is easier for you or your hands are bothering you use a jar of mandarin oranges

1/2 Cup Toasted Slivered Almonds ( just place slivered almonds in a non stick fry pan and heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure that the almonds  release some of  their oils and get crunchy)

Wash and dry all the vegetables. ( My kids like to use the salad spinner so they do that for me ) Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces unless of course you have purchased the ready made stuff.

Take the marinading chicken out of the refrigerator and grill until fully cooked. Cooking times will vary based on the grill size and the amount of btu’s that it puts out.  It usually only takes me about 15 minutes flipping the chicken halfway though the cooking process. When the chicken is fully cooked place on a cutting board to rest while you prepare the dressing.


1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce ( a good quality soy sauce like Tamari is preferable )

1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar

1/4 Cup Orange Juice

2 Tablespoon Honey

2 Teaspoon Grated Ginger

Whisk all ingredient together in a mixing bowl. ( You can also just throw everything together in the blender and mix )

Place the lettuce, cabbage and carrot in a large salad bowl or serving platter and toss until well mixed.  Place oranges randomly about the bowl or plate.  Slice grilled chicken and place warm chicken on top of lettuce mixure. Top with slivered almonds and drizzle with dressing. Serves 4 – 6


Rheumatoid Arthritis: Redirecting My Focus.

I have watched the Star Wars movies over the years many times.  At one time or another each one of my boys has gone through a Star Wars faze when they want to watch all of the Star Wars movies over and over again.  I have seen them all many times. The past few times I have to admit I probably was doing something else while one of the boys was watching.  Kind of a been there done that attitude.  They are all good movies but my attitude was I know how it all ends so maybe I’ll direct my attention to other things while he (which ever boy that may be at the time ) enjoys the movie. This morning was no different  when the sky was gray and it was still raining outside my youngest, Kevin asked if he could watch Star Wars – Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Not a problem. In the movie went. My thought was the house will be quiet for a few hours with the two younger boys being separated while Kevin watches this movie.

I was sitting in the room with him paying some bills and tending to some email’s that needed my attention when I heard the most profound words…..The character Qui Gon is speaking to Anikan Skywalker and he says “Just remember,  your focus determines your reality”.  I stopped what I was doing and just sat there.  I repeated the words “your focus determines your reality”  All I could think at the time was. Yes. That’s it. That is exactly what has happened for me.

There was a time in the early days of the disease when my focus was on my limitations . That was all I could see, what I could no longer do.  I spent a great deal of time feeling sorry for myself and worrying if I would end up in a wheelchair or bed-ridden.  It was a really dark period of time for me and the more that I focused my energies on fear and pain the worse it seemed to get.  I had very little confidence in my rheumatologist at the time and it certainly didn’t help my state of mind whenever I questioned him about my course of treatment he would say things like “We don’t want to see you in a wheelchair, do we?  He seemed to be echoing my worst fears.

I took me several years to work up the courage to take my life back.  I read really good books that helped to change my perception of myself.  I did something that at the time was very uncomfortable for me and accepted help from anyone and everyone who offered it.  I slowly changed my thinking from what I could no longer do to what I can still do.  Every day I had to make a conscience effort to focus on the good in my life so that goodness started to become my reality.

It was not an easy transition.  I had to take a hard look at what was really important to me and I had to address what it would mean if my worst fears were realized.  Would it change who I am as a human being if I did end up in a wheelchair?  It would certainly change my reality. Things would be very different for me and my family. But would I as a woman, as a mother, as a life partner be different?  The answer came back yes and no.  Physical changes would limit my ability to do things and because of that my life would change, but fundamentally who I am would not.  I would still love my family with abundance and still share with them all my joy and happiness.  And when I really, really thought about it I came to realize that this body, my body,  is just a vessel.  Sometimes it is a little rough around the edges but still just a vessel housing the who that I am.  And most importantly I am so much more than this body that I have been given.

I still wake up every morning stiff and sore.  But my immediate thoughts are not on how the stiffness will limit my day.  My first thoughts are what will today bring? What is on the agenda for the day?  Where is my husband so I can give him a kiss?  What a nice morning hug from my Kevin  that was. Most importantly  I am so grateful for having been given this day. It has made monumental effects on my life and how I live it.

LivingRheum Find of the Month:

I have been attempting to minimize the amount of chemicals that enter my body.  My doctor and I have been slowly weaning me from some of the medications that I have been taking because overall my rheumatoid arthritis is improving.  My ultimate goal would be to be completely off of all medication but I am a realist and I have been down the no medication road before. That led to me not being able to do the most basic of tasks.  My last attempt was without the help of my doctor and I have learned so much since then.

Whenever possible I cook with organic food and I try to avoid any harsh chemicals in cleaning around the house.  I have to believe that additional chemical compounds entering my body whether they have been ingested or applied topically, or just leaching through the skin cannot be helping and already confused immune system.

In my quest to understand what is really in the everyday products that I use, I came across this site GoodGuide is a product rating web site that evaluates products based on potentially hazardous content.  It rates food, household and personal care products based on the environmental and social impact.

Products are rated  from 0 being the worst and 10 being the best based on 3 criteria; health performance, environmental performance and social impact.   Health performance includes cancer risk, reproductive risks, endocrine disruption as well as other risk factors. Environmental performance covers natural resource impacts and emissions and the social impact is based on labor and human rights practices as well as working conditions. When an issue is noted, there is a clear explanation as to what the problem is and the possible implications.

I have checked on many of the products that my family and I  use on a daily practice and I have to be honest when I finish this post I”m off to the store to purchase some less toxic products.  I really had no idea what was in the shampoo and conditioner that I used just this morning.  Even after reading the ingredient list, it really meant nothing to me.  I wanted shiny full hair and I really had no idea the significant toxic substances that I was putting on my head.  It turns out the products that my family was using was rated among the lowest of all the products listed.  This has really made me look at the common items we use everyday in a new light.

I was focusing my energy on cleaning products around the house, using vinegar and other natural products to get the task done and eating non processed and organic foods when possible. It hadn’t occurred to me that the personal care products that me and my family use could be contaminating our bodies with toxic chemicals. I really wasn’t seeing the big picture.  I am now taking a look at the skin care items, contact solutions, soaps, shampoos, well the list goes on.

They even have an application for the iPhone so that when I am out shopping I have all the information that I need at my finger tips. I plan on using this site on a regular basis before and during my shopping trips.

Important Information About Food and Drug Interactions

The Arthritis Foundation  recently posted an article that states that many foods that you eat and drink may interfere with the way your arthritis medications are absorbed in your body.  Here is a link to read the complete story. Really important read.

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