Monthly Archives: October 2009

Happy Halloween

Halloween KugelhopfAs an American living in Australia, I have seen the American holiday creep into Australia over the years.  Now more than ever, there are decorations, costumes, party favours, candy/lollies to get into the Halloween spirit.  I must admit that it was one of my favourite holidays as a child.  I cherish those memories and really enjoyed celebrating the holiday with other fellow Americans when my daughter was little.  The American Women’s Club of Perth was so influential in facilitating the American holidays, as well as an excellent way to mingle with other Americans living in Perth.  This year I will be celebrating with some American friends, but not necessarily traditionally.  I had some Halloween decorations to use on a pumpkin cake recipe that I modified to call my own.  Celebrating with the superfood-pumpkin we will have Pumpkin Spice Cake and Pumpkin Spinach Salad.

Pumpkin Spice Cake  (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

125g  butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
180g peeled pumpkin, steamed and mashed
2 cups sifted plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1-1/2teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon nutmeg
1  teaspoon allspice
1  teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup buttermilk

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180C.  I used a fan forced oven.
Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat till fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Slowly beat in the pumpkin.
Sift all the dry ingredients together, then add some buttermilk, alternating until all mixed in.

Tupperware KugelhopfPour the cake batter into the Tupperware Kugelhopf and bake for about 40-45 minutes. Remember, every oven is different so time will vary.  Test with cake tester or knife.   It should spring back when pressed lightly.

Cool cake in tin on a rack for 5 minutes -this allows for air to circulate around the base of the tin too. Turn onto rack gently to cool completely.

Decorate as desired.  I frosted and decorated with Halloween sprinkles.  It can be used anytime of year, just sprinkle with icing sugar.

Have a Happy Halloween!  Try the cake recipe even if it’s not for Halloween.  It’s great all year round, let me know how it turns out:-)

Sciatica

The sciatic nerves are the largest and longest nerves of the body, about the size of your thumb in diameter. Each of the two sciatic nerves is formed by four or five nerves branching off the spinal cord and running down the back of each leg. Sciatica is a severe pain in the leg caused from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve.

What Causes Sciatica?

Pain is caused when the sciatic nerve roots are irritated, scraped, twisted, stretched or pinched as they exit the spine. Causes of this may be chemical, physical or the emotional stress of everyday living. A full-blown sciatic flare-up can involve the entire sciatic nerve path resulting in symptoms of lower back pain, burning, cramping or numbness that radiates into the thighs, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Pain may also be limited to various points along the nerve such as the buttocks, knee and calf.

One of the major causes of sciatica is the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. This can be associated with or without disc problems. It can be accompanied by the bulging or herniation of the discs which separate each spinal bone. This can irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord. The result can be an intense pain shooting down either or both legs. Other possible causes are pregnancy and childbirth, tumours, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes, constipation, or sitting on one’s back pocket wallet.

Can Chiropractic Help?

Sciatica (like other health problems that can be traced to the spine) often responds dramatically to the restoration of normal spinal function through chiropractic care.

The chiropractic approach is to use carefully directed and controlled “adjustments” to remove the interference from spinal and associated structures. These chiropractic adjustments can be very effective in reducing nerve irritation and pain that is associated with it.

Sometimes the cause of sciatica is beyond the scope of chiropractic care. If this is the case, your chiropractor will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

Disc Problems

Disc Overview

The bones of the spine are separated by tough cartilage pads called discs.  Healthy discs are flexible and thick (like a wet sponge) allowing bending and twisting motions. Unhealthy discs are stiff and hard (like a dry sponge) and prone to injuries such as bulging or herniation.  Firstly, they act as the spine’s shock absorbers.  Secondly, they allow the spine to move in many different directions.  Individually, the discs offer very little movement, but in teamwork with the spinal bones, they give the spine just enough flexibility for various ranges of motion.

What are discs made of?

Discs are mainly made up of water, collagen and proteoglycans – a protein found in human connective tissues which helps to attract water and keep the discs hydrated. The inner gel-like material (nucleus pulposus) contains more water than the outer coat (annulus fibrosus).

This water content is very important because it keeps the discs plump and healthy, which enables them to function more effectively.

How do discs stay healthy?

Unlike other structures in the human body, spinal discs do not have a direct blood supply. Instead they get their nutrients and moisture from a kind of pumping action as the spinal bones above and below move in all directions.

This is really important to understand because it is central to why most disc problems develop, as well as providing the key to reversing disc problems after they have emerged.

Without this regular pumping action, spinal discs are unable to get the mosture and nutrients they need for optimum health.

Why do discs become unhealthy?

Over long periods of time, due to gravity, dysfunction in the spinal joints and accumulated trauma, the discs become starved of adequate water and nutrients and begin to become dehydrated and malnourished.

This process can lead to the discs losing their plumpness, causing them to become flattened in appearance and less elastic – and so affecting their ability to function properly.

This is what is known as ‘Degenerative Disc Disease.’

Also, the outer layer of dehydrated discs can become prone to thinning and cracking. This weakening of the outer layer may result in the inner gel pushing out, causing the outer layer to bulge.

Constant and continual compression prevents much-needed oxygen and nutrients from entering the disc. This ongoing starvation causes the once-tough outer layers of the disc to deteriorate (wear & tear) allowing the disc to become injured or diseased.

Disc damage can occur anywhere in the spine. However, the discs of the neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine) are the most commonly injured.

Because of the way each disc is attached to the spinal bones (vertebrae) above and below, a disc cannot “slip” as commonly thought. However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, herniate, dessicate or rupture. This can be quite painful, putting pressure on the nerve roots and/or spinal cord, interfering with their function.

Chiropractic and Disc Problems

The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to help restore better motion and position to the spinal joint or joints involved. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps reduce inflammation and begin the slow process of healing the surrounding soft tissues.

While results can’t be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills, by choosing conservative chiropractic care. The traditional approach to disc problems often ignores spinal function.  If detected early enough, conservative chiropractic care is not only safer, but is often more effective than back surgery.