With Arthritis (and food) being at the forefront of my mind most days – I thought it would be important at the turn of the new year to have a look at this years’ upcoming awareness campaigns for arthritis across the world and here in the UK especially – with a number of charities leading the way.
In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints. Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children. And in the US, more than 54 million people have arthritis, that’s 23% of adults. The pain is often invisible, and its effects can often go unnoticed.
In a Harris Poll of 2,000 adults in the U.S. on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation, only 7% of them knew that arthritis is the country’s #1 cause of disability. A whopping 85% said the disease needs more attention.
I’ve had arthritis for almost 7 years now, and there was a time when I didn’t contribute to, relate to, or engage with my condition. And now, I am constantly telling people, “Hey, you wouldn’t believe it, but I have arthritis… I know, I’m so young… I know… I don’t look like I have it… I know, it’s invisible… Yes, I am on medication… Yes, it’s painful… Well, there’s over 100 different types of arthritis, and millions of people have it all over the world… not just “old” people, young children too!”
Some of the dates below are based on last year’s awareness days/ weeks/ campaigns, but with some research I have tried to find the right dates for your diary!
2020 Arthritis Awareness Campaigns by Month
Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness: 2nd of February
Rheumatoid disease, also known as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is an autoimmune condition in which the body believes the linings of the joints are foreign tissue, and it attacks and damages them, resulting in inflammation and pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 2 to 3 times as many women than men develop RA, and 70 percent of people with RA are women. This day is dedicated to RA.
National Arthritis Week: 20th to 26th of April
National Arthritis Week (NAW) by Arthritis Ireland, takes place from 20th – 26th of April. The theme of the week is ‘Movement is the best medicine’, to highlight the importance of physical activity for joint health for people with arthritis, alongside also highlighting how it can be a preventative measure.
Arthritis Awareness Month: All of May
World AUTOimmune & AUTOinflammatory Arthritis Day: 4th of May
Rheumatoid Awareness Week: 17th to 23rd of June 2020
Led by the NRAS (National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society), last year (2019) they ran a campaign #AnyoneAnyAge, and this year I am looking forward to seeing their campaign 17th to 23rd of June.
Juvenile Arthritis Awareness: 7th of June 2020
#WearPurpleForJIA is campaign that was launched in 2015 by two JIA mums to raise much needed awareness and funds for children and young people living with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Supported by Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at NRAS.
National Arthritis Awareness Week: 7th to 13th of October 2020
Led by the UK’s leading charity for arthritis and related conditions, Versus Arthritis raises awareness with a campaign during the week 7th to 13th of October. In 2019, their campaign #NoPainNoFilter emphasised the pain, without a social media filter, that many of us live with daily when living with arthritis. Versus Arthritis is a merger of UK charities Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK.
World Arthritis Day: 12th October 2020
Arthritis is a disease that affects approximately 350 million people worldwide, including nearly 40 million people in the United States and 10 million people in the UK. The Arthritis Foundation is the largest charity in the USA for arthritis and every year they heavily promote World Arthritis Day on the 12th of October.
I hope these dates are as useful for you as they are for me! Add them into your diary and help me and many others, in the Arthritis Foodie community and beyond, raise important awareness for arthritis across the world.
Have you ever had a bath in the dark, with no noise, no distractions, endless space and the complete sense of weightlessness both physically and mentally? For a whole hour? Sounds good doesn’t it? Sounds restful too, and it truly is… And it’s a lot better than what I’ve just described, it’s an hour of luxury and ultimate self-care for both the body and the mind.
Last month, FloatHub UK invited me to try Floatation Therapy at their brand-new premium floatation hub in Shoreditch, London, UK (#gifted). I had heard about floatation therapy briefly from some members of the Arthritis Foodie Community, and, as always, I am willing to try any natural remedy to ease my arthritis and pain, to in turn – help all of you to do the same.
I’d taken a look at their website, and done brief research
about floatation, the guide
provides is very thorough and gave me a good understanding. In reality, it was
so much better. The space is beautifully designed, with a welcoming entrance,
private rooms, a powder room and a relaxation room for post-floating. I was
guided through the rooms and the processes before starting, and the FloatHub
team really ensured that I felt comfortable and at ease.
So, what is a float /
floating / floatation therapy?
“With more than 525kg of
high-quality epsom salt, you will float effortlessly in the waters of our
spacious float pods with no light, sound, or external pressures to refresh your
mind and restore your health to new levels.”
Inside the floatation hubs (see photos) your body floats weightlessly supported by a cushion of silky (it really does feel like liquid silk to touch) skin-temperature liquid. There is no sensation of gravity, sight or sound and you are encapsulated in a space that leaves you no option other than to relax. Epsom salt (also known as magnesium sulphate) has been used since the 1600’s and has been established as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. It was discovered in 1618 by farmer Henry Wicker in Epsom, England, when his cows refused to drink the water because of it’s mineral bitter taste. Wicker was the first person in history to experience the healing effects of Epsom salts and began promoting the waters as a medicine.
I’d made sure to have had a
light meal before floating (a veggie omelette with avocado on the side) and
drank plenty of water (but a good 90 mins before floating I stopped soon as I
wouldn’t need the bathroom!) The private room I was given was spacious, warm,
and dimly lit like a spa with the floating hub in the middle and a shower, plus
towels, makeup wipes, ear plugs, and a place to sit.
Once I had removed my
make-up, showered, and inserted the ear plugs (so the water wouldn’t go in my
ears) I was ready to go. I missed the sunset and music due to still being in
the shower (it started getting darker and darker as I was stood there naked –
honestly – my fault completely!) so I quickly turned the lights back on. Some
of you may not know, but I am a calamity and fumbling mess sometimes (I open
‘Push’ signed doors as an example), so I couldn’t fathom the machine at first,
even though the lovely lady at FloatHub UK had shown me twice… But essentially,
you reach inside for the internal buttons to get the lid to start closing, and
then I kept it slightly ajar by an inch, just for my own sanity as it would be
typical of me to get trapped in there.
Then I stepped into the water
(in the nude), and found the water so calming and warm, not too hot and not too
cold – just right. And you literally float. It’s amazing! Your whole body
feels like you could be in outer space with the darkness, the quiet, and being
weightless. It took me some time to wriggle where I fancied and relax and let
the water carry me, but once I did – it felt wonderful. It closed my eyes and
enjoyed every minute of the stillness. Your body tends to move and flex in odd
ways and it feels like you are the liquid itself, totally fluid and floating.
You can float with the lights
on if you choose, but I chose to keep it dark. The hour went by so fast, but I
honestly felt significantly less pain, and so rested. Read this review by Andrew who has Rheumatoid
Arthritis and went recently, he seemed to have the same experience as me – and
it helped him.
Afterwards, you shower and wash off the salt, get dressed, then head to the powder room if you need to dry your hair or do your makeup. If not, you go straight to the relaxation room where there is a selection of magazines, and scrumptious herbal teas. So, I sat in there a while, phone-less (there’s no service in there anyway which was great!) and read the magazine Breathe, with an orange and fennel tea.
What are its health benefits,
is it medicinal?
are so many health benefits to a Float, here are some that I gathered from some
research and information from FloatHub UK too:
Boosted secretion of beta
endorphins, which are natural pain inhibitors – same as exercise endorphins –
and I got this – I definitely felt in less pain while I was floating.
Relaxes the nervous system,
people with conditions such as fibromyalgia may find relief.
Lowers heart rate.
Increases lactate flush (ridding
your body of lactic acid, whilst relieving the muscles).
Helps with anxiety, and PTSD.
Restores the hormone balance
and gets rid of the ‘brain fog’.
Pregnant women have had
profound reactions, as shutting off all noise and sensory stimulation enables
them to feel more connected to their child and lowers back pain too.
There are three states of Meditation, state alpha, beta, and theta, theta is the deepest
state of meditation (only expert meditators and yogis usually achieve) and has
been shown to be achieved in 40 minutes with the help of a sensory deprivation
tank (like FloatHub).
Scientifically, the body is
so relaxed that the brain waves slow down.
Navy Seals use float therapy
in the curriculum and the US military uses it at scale, as it creates improved
focus, creativity and state of “super-learning” from floating – they
reduced learning languages from 6 months to 6 weeks.
What is the Float Hub UK
Tom found help in Floats for his own sleep after struggling with sleep apnea
and insomnia for a long time. After floating, he ended up feeling far more
rested and recovered, more so than the poor-form of rest he was getting from
now running FloatHub UK to provide this incredible remedy to others. On top of
this, he runs a volunteer programme for people who want to Float, but can’t
afford it. With the volunteer programme, you simply have to volunteer with one
of their charity partners and you can earn free floats. And, free floats to
emergency services professionals – which I think is just wonderful.
Would you like to try
I’d highly recommend it, but it has to be FloatHub UK – outstanding!
Go to my Instagram page @ArthritisFoodie to enter the competition launching in January 2020. FloatHub UK will kindly be giving away two floating experiences, one for you and a friend – all you have to do is comment on the post with the friend that you’d take with you, like the post, and follow @floathubuk & @arthritisfoodie.
How much does it cost to do a
Monthly membership is £40 a month for one float a month, if you want more floats as a member a float is £40 a month.
If you aren’t a member, a single float is £55.
If you make referrals as a member, you get credited with a float too.
As mentioned earlier, if you work in the emergency services you can float for free, or if you want to volunteer to earn a float, you can.
What’s included in the
Partnership with a sleep
expert and consultation for members.
Free gift card upon sign-up.
will also allow members to choose 90-minute floats at no extra charge, assuming
they have availability.
in the membership: Osteopaths,
nutritionists, personal trainers – all of these discounted from selected
Can I manage my arthritis pain with CBD Oil? Learn about CBD for Pain Management with some insight from some of the industry’s leading experts.
Chronic pain, is a real pain – that’s a fact, waking up with it, living with it and going to bed with it – there’s the painsomnia too (of course!). It’s constantly there, and only with mental strength can we try to place it out of our minds to get on with our daily life. There’s plenty of pain medications and drugs on the market, and I have tried plenty of them too – from NSAIDs, steroids, co-codamol and arcoxia. With @ArthritisFoodie, I am documenting my tests and trials with natural remedies to ease arthritis pain.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis being the most diagnosed and well known. With this, there are lots of drugs too. Not much is helping the chronic pain I feel in my ankles each day though. So, one of the remedies I have been most interested to learn about is the power of CBD, formally known as ‘Cannabidiol’. It’s legal in small quantities in the UK (but the THC part of the plant isn’t) and it is one of the fastest growing industries – it’s seen as a ‘miracle plant’ and its popularity is growing like it’s the new ‘avocado on toast’.
So, I was really excited to attend (with a kind someone who has membership there) the talk about CBD at the private member’s club Annabel’s in Mayfair, London. I made some notes during the talk and hopefully this blog will give you some insight into what I learned from the panel.
The discussion: To CBD or not to CBD? That is
“CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of the key chemical components of cannabis, and is showing a huge promise in the treatment and alleviation of a long list of medical conditions, chronic pain, and skin concerns, but there are still question marks as to whether or not it has any proven health effects.”
Who was on the panel?
Dr Danni Gordon:is a trained and registered medical doctor at Harley Street in London, but she has been practicing in Canada where she treated thousands of patients with CBD, from mental health, to cancer, pain and fatigue. Her goal is to train UK physicians in medical cannabis, and emphasise that cannabis is the most useful herbal tool. She is a Cannabinoid Medicine and Integrative Medicine Specialist too.
Dr Matthew Brown:is a Consultant at the Royal Marsden Hospital specialising in pain medicine and anesthetics, with a focus on pain relief for cancer patients. He is interested in the research on pain mechanisms, and how medical cannabis sit within this, as he is on the board of George Botanicals – a leading UK brand in the CBD space.
CBD oil is made by extracting
CBD from the flowers and leaves of a cannabis plant, then diluting it with a transporter
oil, such as coconut or hemp seed oil. Hemp Seed Oil is from the seeds of the
cannabis plant, and hemp seeds and hemp seed oil have been used for cooking and
other purposes for years. It is legal because it does not contain significant
amounts of cannabinoids, like CBD and THC.
“Hemp seed oil or cannabis seed oil is high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. It’s great in a smoothie and like many natural oils, is wonderful for skin but contains zero CBD (cannabidiol) and none of the benefits of CBD.”
It’s great to learn about CBD, but what about medicinal cannabis? Is it the same thing? Well, no, it’s not, as medicinal cannabis does have some THC in, as the THC scientifically enables the CBD to be more effective within the body, it can be prescribed, but it is hard, and the process is long. This is frustrating, as Cannabis has been used for medical purposes across the world for centuries, going as far back as 2900BC, which is exactly 4,918 years ago.
What I was most surprised to learn, is that Queen
Victoria used medical cannabis when she was in labour, and it was a very
established part of medical practise up until the 1930s in the UK. It fell off in the 1930s, during the prohibition period in America
(which the UK mirrored) into being seen and abused as a recreational drug,
rather than a drug for health.
What is the current legal status of cannabis in
Legislation in the UK has
recently changed, and now medical cannabis has both TCH and CBD. However, in
the NHS in order to prescribe it, it has to be a multi-disciplinary decision. A
GP cannot prescribe it, it first has to go to a specialist and then it has to
be signed off by the director of the hospital. There is a huge amount of
paperwork and the patient has to try all of the other alternatives too. Opioids
that cause more harm than cannabis are easier to get hold of than medicinal
cannabis. Getting a prescription on private healthcare is a swifter process,
but of course, not everybody has the access to this.
Is there proof that it works?
Dr Danni Gordon has many anecdotal
“case studies” from her own use of it with patients in Canada that prove it
does work – for pain relief, anxiety and so much more. There is exponential
growth in research happening, but studying the hemp plant has been illegal.
It’s also hard to test, as
there is also a huge array of chemicals within the plant – and there are
different strains of it too. For example, you have a study looking at pain –
the dose varies, type of pain varies, and type of CBD varies too. However,
there are cannabinoid receptors within our bodies that react to it either way, it
is something our body natural is accustomed to, more on this in the science
Apparently, it also has
anti-acne effects, Danny has had psoriasis patients who have used CBD and TCH
creams and it has helped them. I was interested to know this in the case of
How do you take CBD, what is its best form?
For wellness use – there is the option of oral oil form 5-10mg drops, 2 to 10 times a day. However, you can also find dry herbal ones or vapourisers / vaping oils, with flowers that look like cannabis, but don’t have TCH. You can even buy CBD tea now too!
The best way to get CBD,
and to see if it can help, is through a doctor by getting a prescription – as
this is CBD and TCH in its proper natural form – without the CBD being
extracted. There are a lot of new companies coming out in
UK claiming to produce it, but it is always best to go on their website and
check who is on their scientific board to be able trust the product. Overall,
it is important to do your own research before buying and trying the products.
There are plenty of good health shops, such as Holland and Barratt that stock
The panel mentioned that
it’s worth noting that if you have low blood pressure you have to be careful.
Drug interaction is also a potential if you have epilepsy drugs. Research has
also not been done yet either in terms of how it could affect chemotherapy and
different types of cancers.
Finally, give it time and
try different strengths of it:
“What I find with a lot of chronic pain conditions is because CBD actually interacts with our own cannabis system in our own bodies, called the endocannabinoid system, it doesn’t actually turn pain off directly like a painkiller… it down regulates our perception of pain and the kind of tones of our nervous system… it can help with chronic pain over a period of time, but often it might take weeks or months to see any effect and it doesn’t cure chronic pain, so you have to keep taking it… use a different dose, or a different product or add a tiny bit of THC (legal in Canada).” – Dr Dani.
What is the science of the body telling us about
Research has been grey, but
what we are seeing is a move away from randomised studies to the idea that we
can collect data from the real world – functional, mobility, and general
wellbeing. We will eventually see a shift of change towards accepting this kind
of data, but it needs to be funded for it to be found.
A lot of the industry is
being led by entrepreneurs as pharmaceuticals who want to take a strand of the
chemical, but you should be taking the whole plant to get the full benefits, as
if you don’t have THC the CBD takes longer to work and is less effective.
Future of CBD & the Holistic Approach
When will it be relaxed
enough to not have the hurdles, and to be able to be prescribed medicinal
cannabis a lot easier? In ten years’, is the prediction from the panel.
Finally, CBD is not a
silver bullet solution, and it can only work if everything is in line – good
health, exercise, diet, sleep and so on – binding into a whole holistic
approach to health and wellbeing.
Extra Tips from the Panel
Anxiety and sleeplessness are common in people with chronic pain. Sleep hygiene is essential – it should be quiet and dark an hour before bedtime, don’t go on your iPad or phone before sleep, not having coffee before bed, try to have the last one before 1pm! I recently listened to a podcast about sleep – link is here.
I also had a chance at the end to approach some of the panel and chat to them about the ways in which I could manage my arthritis pain (and pass these ideas on to through Arthritis Foodie). These were some of the extra suggestions that I am going to go away and try:
Magnesium – to take this as a supplement.
Menthol – in creams to soothe the pain.
Acupuncture – I have had this in my neck before,
but not frequently enough to feel any significant difference – and I have never
tried it in my ankles before.
Pain team at my hospital (St George’s) – to find
out who this is and to try and get a referral to help with the management of
CBD oil must be given a try in a holistic
approach, and you have to do your own analysis as to how it is helping you, as
there is no research out there.
It is safe to use and buy from approved
places, but if you need the real strength of it, getting hold of medicinal
cannabis through your specialist is the best option.
Always look for natural CBD, as some companies water it down with other things! Trial and test more than one. Further reading about CBD oil for chronic pain: on Dr Dani’s site.
I will be trying CBD again, just in the process of researching the best one, so stay tuned!