The fun and benefits of fermenting your own veggies

Naturopaths have always viewed a healthy gut as fundamental to good health. They focus on digestive and elimination issues first when assessing and treating their patients.

Researchers now regard the 3 – 4 pound weight of living organisms in our GI tract as another organ that provides essential support for  many living processes in our bodies, but can also make us mentally and physically ill. If the mix of organisms is top-heavy with pathogenic rather than beneficial bacteria, disease will ensue.

A simple, natural way to boost the percentage of beneficial flora is the addition of fermented foods to our diet. Other cultures have been enjoying these for centuries. The Romans had sauerkraut; Bulgarians their fermented milk and kefir, Ukrainians their raw yogurt and buttermilk, and Asians their pickled fermented vegetables of all kinds, known as kimchi.

Fermented foods are potent detoxifiers and pack way more probiotics than
probiotic supplements, so they work well to optimize gut flora.  These beneficial gut bacteria also increase mineral absorption; produce B vitamins and K2 (essential with vitamin D to maintain strong bones and reduce cardiovascular disease), prevent obesity and diabetes, lower cancer risk, improve mood and even prevent acne.

Fermenting PotA neighbor who is youthful at 80 plus grows his own cabbage, ferments it in a crockery pot and eats it daily year around. Inspired, we challenged our daughter-in-law to make us a fermenting pot - no small feat for such a large item which we then had to transport back from Canada, by air and road! In fact she made two, so sure was she that the drying and firing process might prove fatal! They are beautiful to behold and have each produced a delicious and pungent batch of fermented veggies.  We learned what we needed to know and gained confidence in our process from this posting on Dr. Mercola’s website.   Dr. Mercola uses a very simple method that does not require a crock, and explains the whole process and great benefits very clearly.

We have had fun creating recipes we like, and it is proving SO much less expensive than buying it ready-made. So far we are simply refrigerating the product and have no trouble keeping up with the supply. We are now experimenting with spicy seeds, hot peppers and different vegetables, and plan to stage a kimchi ferment-off in the near future!  Our new Kimchi Cook Book and a full pound of Korean Red Pepper Powder has just arrived!

The Raw Mixture

The Raw Mixture

Finished fermented veggies

Seven Days Later!





Hard lessons learned from a simple hernia!

In July, my husband suddenly developed an inguinal hernia. Still in recovery from a sprained ankle sustained while visiting family in New Zealand a few months earlier, he was diligently performing physio exercises to strengthen that leg in the proper alignment.

Lesson 1: Steep, wet, sheep pasture is hazardous terrain!

The particular exercise involved getting up seated position in a chair, using just the affected leg to push up on – lots of work for the abdominal muscles on that side! He felt a popping sensation and later that day, noticed a bulge just above the groin area on that side. 

Lesson 2: It may be wise to cheat a little if a prescribed exercise is really hard work, and you feel you are only just able to do it.

We soon figured out that it was an inquinal hernia, large enough to need surgical repair. Turns out men are at particular risk for inquinal hernias, because around the time of birth the testes descend through the inquinal canal into the scrotum. Not uncommonly, the canal does not close up properly, leaving a weak area through which the small intestine can protrude (Indirect inguinal hernia). As men age, connective tissue degeneration causes the muscles of abdominal wall to weaken. These are called direct hernias and may be triggered by muscle strains, sudden twisting or pulling, lifting heavy things, straining on the toilet when constipated, gaining weight, or requent coughing.

Often the bowel can be pushed back through the inquinal canal, but gravity will cause it to continue to slide out unless it can be secured into position. If the bowel becomes trapped in the groin or scrotum, it may became strangulated, causing nausea, vomiting, and serious infection. This could be life-threatening.

My husband was fortunate in getting surgery right away. It was a 4″ cut, and a special mesh was inserted to strengthen the area. He recovered well, and was off the pain killers and stool softeners after just a couple of days. Once again, he was diligent about drinking a lot of green smoothies, prune juice and Calm – the powdered magnesium supplement that makes a great natural laxative. However he was so keen to get back in shape that he decided to begin  interval training (Al Sears’ PACE program) – running hard for 30 seconds, at intervals during a walk around the neighborhood. After all the surgeon had checked the incision and said he could run! This was a bad idea; suddenly he had more than just the healing ridge.  The strain on the area had caused some bleeding forming a hematoma.

Lesson 3: Running all-out puts a big stress on the whole body. Don’t do this soon after surgery! Gentle walking is best for several months. Muscles are like concrete in that it takes a long time for them to heal and “set” properly. Our PT warns it will be a full year before the affected muscles are fully healed.

Lesson 4: The healing ridge and hematoma are walled off areas that the body cannot readily supply with blood, and the supply and removal of nutrients, and waste. It is important to massage this area, moving the lump up and down and sidewise to open it up and help the fluids move through to aid the healing process. You can speed the healing of the scar and normalize the energy flow through that area by topical application of Vitamin E oil, sesame oil or wheat germ oil.

At home we have a small hand-held infrared light, called DPL® NüveSystem, that I’ve used as pain therapy. My husband started using this on the area for 20 minutes twice a day, and almost immediately noticed the lump softened and has finally grown smaller over the past 2 months. Another issue that surfaced was pain in the joint of his big toe, along with puffiness in the ball of that foot.  Where did that come from?

Our  PT took one look at him and realized his entire body was twisted in several different directions. For more than two years he had been doing Pilates for 6 hours a week, so his core muscles were very well developed. We did not think of this when the surgeon wanted to do open surgery rather than laparoscopic; he said he could do a better job by having the area fully visible.  By cutting into one side of the abdominal muscle girdle only, the strong side naturally torqued his pelvis around.  The misalignment, coupled with the congested area around the surgery, was causing blood and lymph to pool in his foot, and put stress on the toe joint. 

Lesson 4: Maybe doing a hernia repair on both sides would have made a lot of sense in this case – when his abdominal muscles were so strong.  It was offered, but we deemed it unnecessary. The surgeon claims the repaired side will be a lot stronger than the other, once it’s completely healed – and the other side could well rupture then!

So -  three months after surgery, this busy man must add infrared treatments and PT exercises to his full days, to keep more problems at bay while regaining his health. The exercises work to keep both sides of the pelvis moving freely around the pubic symphysis. He also visits the PT regularly, and is learning more than he ever wanted to know about total body integration and what it takes to stay mobile and painfree in one’s sixties!

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A simple, inexpensive way to lose weight!

The Magic Elixir!

It’s a well-known fact that we all gain weight as we age.  One reason is that aging muscles actually increase the amount of fat we store in our bodies. Worn out muscle cells are not as readily replaced, but wither and become weak. The cells that were the powerhouse of the body when we were younger, can no longer function effectively, and we slow down. Conse-quently, if we keep our caloric intake exactly the same as we age, those unburned calories will end up as fat. Keeping active and building regular exercise into our lives will help a lot, as this revs up our metabolism for several hours. That’s why exercising – even a 10-15 minute brisk walk  – right after a meal is a good strategy for  weight control.

However, new research has shown that the simple habit of drinking two cups of water shortly before each meal, results in considerable weigh loss, even if calorie intake remains the same and the person does not exercise! Dr. Brenda Davy of Virginia Tech, conducted the first randomised controlled trial to study the relationship between water consumption and weight loss. The amazing results appeared in the February 2010 issue of Obesity.

The trial involving 48 inactive Americans, aged 55 to 75, ran for 12 weeks. Prior to this, all the participants had been consuming 1,800 to 22,000 calories a day. They were then divided into two groups. The men’s ration was slashed to 1,500 and the women’s ration to 1,200 a day. One group was asked to drink a half a liter of water just before all three daily meals; the other group were not told what to drink. After three months, the group that drank water before their meals had lost about 15 1/2 pounds each; the other group lost only 11 pounds. Moreover this habit appears to be easy to keep up. One year after the trial finished, the group that drank all the water before meals were still at it, and had lost another 1.5 pounds each while the rest had gained it all back.

Supercharge your nutrition with herbs and spices

Vibrant colors; powerful nutrients!

To control high blood sugar levels, the key to preventing and reversing Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Eric Braverman believes you can have 4 times better medicine than using drugs alone, by balancing  your hormones, and improving nutrients and lifestyle, along with your meds. What I found truly amazing about his dietary regime is the addition of many  herbs and spices in relatively large amounts to boost nutritional content. Braverman says, “The more nutrients in your food, the more nutritious it is. Everytime you put three or four spices in a meal, you have just upgraded your food. You have made it a superfood.”  This was news to me. I love these exotic flavors, but have always regarded them as mere seasonings.

Not so, according to Braverman. He asks his patients to average at least 3 spices a meal: cayenne pepper on brown rice, turmeric on eggs, cinnamon with their yogurt – and the more the better! They should use a lot more herbs too – fresh basil instead of spinach, lots of sage in chicken soup, pesto on omelets. He tells his patients to go out and buy $50 worth of spices and $50 worth of herbal teas for starters. Four thousands flavenoids have been discovered in teas that are all anti-inflammatory. Braverman says aging makes us burn up, dry up, swell up and turn to stone; calcium comes out of our bones and inflammation is rampant. Getting lots of anti-oxidants is an important strategy for aging well.  His goal for his patients is 15-20 herbs and spices every day.

This sounds difficult – but is it? We’ve been experimenting at home with all the curry spices, and fresh mint in particular. We have discovered some amazing dishes that are now favorites. Two of these appear below. My husband invented the second one, and it really wakes up your tastebuds! [Do watch your white countertops and utensils when using curry powder, cumin or turmeric as these can stain badly.]

Curried Carrots

1 lb carrots sliced 1″ thick
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Simmer carrots in saucepan with water to cover, for 15-20 minutes till tender. Drain and return carrots to pan. Over low heat, add the remaining ingredients, mix well and serve immediately.

Aromatic Butternut

2 cups butternut peeled and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 inch of fresh ginger root, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil, with 1 teaspoon of butter

Simmer the butternut chunks in water,with ginger and garlic till tender. Add oil, butter, and curry powder and mash well.

To find out more about Dr. Eric Braverman’s  cutting edge practice, read his chapter in Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness, by Suzanne Somers. Three Rivers Press, 2008.

Jump start your immune system against H1N1!

Emphasize these foods!

Emphasize these foods!

The Swine Flu epidemic now has pandemic status and there’s an increasing level of fear mongering going on. For anyone applying a little critical thinking to all this hype,  the facts simply don’t add up! Widespread testing of those sickened is not happening to distinguish cases of swine flu from regular seasonal flu.  It is widely known that some authorities are counting all cases of flu this year as swine flu. Some countries such as Great Britain are simply basing their swine flu numbers on an online questionnaire, when it takes laboratory testing to be sure! We are led to believe that young people are especially vulnerable,  but in fact it is overwhelmingly those with already compromised immune systems that are dying from the swine flu. Rather than waiting anxiously for the availability the swine flu vaccine, rushed into production with next to no testing, and already generating major concerns about known toxic ingredients, it seems to me that we would do a lot better to work on boosting our immunity so we protect ourselves against all infectious agents that threaten our health. Here’s what you can do:

  • Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is the likely cause of seasonal flu viruses. Getting enough will help you fight infections of all kinds.Vitamin D is actually a hormone which is proving to be a player in multiple body functions. Get your levels tested by a reliable lab such as Lab Corp. They should be between 50-70 ng/ml. Vitamin D is widely available as inexpensive tablets. Some Anchorage clinics are offering adults a booster shot of 50,000 IU prior to daily maintenance. Doses of 50,000 IU a day for three days can also be used to treat acute infections.
  • Eat a wholesome diet with greens, omega 3s and vitamins.  Increase your antioxidants by eating cabbage, carrots, cucumber, white onion, green apples , grapefruits, cantaloupe, and berries of all kinds – the deeper colored the better. Eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables and nuts such as almonds for their Vitamin E content. Blending greens with fruits in a heavy duty blender means you get more and will feel an energy boost immediately! Eat garlic regularly – it’s good against infectious agents of all kinds.
  • Include probiotics in your diet daily. Live fermented foods like yogurt and kefir can also aid immunity, by populating your digestive tract with friendly bacteria, so that the dangerous ones that also live there don’t get the upper hand and cause disease. Look for Lactobacillus acidophilus or a combination of L acidophilus and Bifidobacterium in the ingredient list, and use fresh fruit as flavoring, rather than pre-flavored products which often have a high sugar content.
  • Eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet. Sugar consumption has an immediate, debilitating effect on your immune system. Beware the hidden sugar in ketchup and other processed foods.
  • Get plenty of good quality sleep (7 – 9 hrs each night). This is when your immune system rebuilds itself. It’s a good hedge against cancer too.
  • Deal with stress effectively. Stress robs your body of the reserves it needs to fight infection.
  • Exercise regularly. Your immune system needs good circulation to perform well.
  • Take a high quality animal-based omega 3 oil like Krill Oil or Cod Liver Oil (flavored now available)
  •  Wash your hands well and often. Prefer a pure, chemical-free soap to antibacterial products. Avoid touching your face if at all possible. Cough into your elbow or a tissue, and stay clear of coughing and sneezing colleagues and friends.

If you’d like to read more from the other side of the swine flu debate, and get a more balanced view of the current threat of the swine flu pandemic, visit 

Forewarned is forearmed as they say, and we need to stay informed on this issue for our own health protection.

Local expertise can cure cubital tunnel syndrome

Tingling or numbness in two fingers of one hand (small and ring), signifies nerve compression behind the elbow. It’s called cubital tunnel syndrome, and is the second most common nerve entrapment problem in the arm after carpal tunnel syndrome ( involving the median nerve in the wrist). Untreated, it can lead to severe disability. If the sensory nerve function is affected, symptoms worsen when holding a telephone in your hand, resting your head on your hand, curling that hand under your body at night, or crossing your arms over your chest. If motor function is impaired, your hand becomes weaker, you may drop things, or have trouble coordinating your fingers  to type or play a musical  instrument. It is unclear how this problem develops, but it is very difficult to get rid of.

My husband developed this problem a year or so ago. We figured out what it was by using some of our terrific sports and rehabilitation medicine e-books, took the arms off his office chair and he tried to train himself to sleep with his arm extended rather than up under his chin. We later found a cubital tunnel elbow splint to immobilize it at 122° to reduce pain and numbness, but it did not get better. Oddly, while bouncing on a lymphatic rebounder (specially designed mini-trampoline)  he was symptom-free, but not for long. He needed a longterm solution, and did not want surgery so he took several sessions of massage therapy and chiropractic. These seemed to aggravate it.

Our ANP advised acupuncture. The first needle inserted in his opposite ankle had a surprising effect on the symptoms of the affected hand.  After a few more sessions the acupuncturist referred him to a local practitioner who combines sports medicine with chiropractic. This amazing man spent a lot of time pinpointing exactly where the nerve was entrapped – in two places actually.

Did you know you should have an arch across the back of each hand? If you extend your arms in front of you so that the backs of your hands are touching, then separate your elbows, letting the hands rotate downwards in a vertical position,  the backs of your hands should continue to press together. If they don’t, you have lost some of that natural arch. This was one test given.

dsc04766small1During treatments, the doctor uses a mix of chiropractic adjustments, massage, accupressure and trigger point release to make more room within the hand for the nerve to function freely. There is homework too. Initial treatment involved taping the portion of the hand closest to the wrist more tightly across the palm than the back, to model the arch.  My husband placed an elastic band placed around the fingers, and opened and closed them against the resistance to strengthen the muscles of the arch.  dsc04756small1Later on, he was asked to purchase a Dynaflex handheld gyroscope ($24.99) that you start with a string, and must move your hand in a circular motion to keep it going smoothly.  More recently he is using a stress ball to squeeze and release repetitively, again to strengthen the muscles. It is slow going but gradually the nerve function is returning and the hand is regaining its strength.

The doctor says many people have this problem but do not seek help until it becomes really serious, and then, it is much more difficult to treat. He is always researching and learning new techniques, and just took a workshop on new techniques for this condition.

We surely are fortunate to have people of this caliber and expertise to help us solve such thorny problems.

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The Joy of Green Smoothies

Use your imagination!My son sent me the small book, Green for Life  by Victoria Boutenko, for my birthday last year. Boutenko is a Russian lady who brought her family to the U.S. for a position as a university lecturer some years ago. Within a year all four of them had serious health problems as a result of adopting the American diet. Boutenko, determined they would avoid drugs and surgeries took them cold turkey onto a raw food diet. That amazing story is recorded in Raw Family. A few years later, sensing their diet was still missing something, Boutenko researched further and decided the perfect human diet should model that of wild chimpanzees that possess a stong natural immunity to AIDS, Hepatitis C, cancer and other fatal human illnesses. Chimps share around 99.4% of the human genome, have the same A-B-O blood groupings and their tissue is used in compatibility studies in medical research. However they have a vastly different diet, 50% fruit, 38% greens and blossom, and the rest pith, bark, seeds and insects. Boutenko started adding greens to her family’s diet – and found the best, most delicious way to do this was to blend them up with fruit in a delicious green smoothie. They noticed all kinds of health benefits – fewer cravings for bad foods, weight loss, more energy, clearer skin, stronger nails, better and less sensitive teeth – to name a few.

The nutritional content is astounding, preparation is simple and fast using a heavy duty blender, and you can use many different ingredients for a different taste and color experience. The basic rule for it to taste good is 60% fruit, and you learn from experience not to use too much strong-flavored greens such as mustard or dandelion greens. It’s good to follow a recipe to begin with and Boutenko’s book includes 17 that use easy to find ingredients. Bananas add substance and smoothness. Plus we add two scoops of whey powder for protein, and a teaspoon of vitamin C powder to aid detoxification of the body. We drink a green smoothie for breakfast every day now, and my husband often has a second at lunchtime. Here is my favorite recipe of all time from Green for Life:

Minty Thrill
Blend Well:
4 ripe pears
4-5 leaves of kale
1/2 bunch mint
2 cups water
Yields 1 quart smoothie

If you’d like to learn more, Watch Victoria Boutenko making a green smoothie.

Detoxing heavy metals with an ionizing footbath

A few months back, realizing I had committed too many funds remaining in my flexible spending plan and risking losing them at year-end, I agreed to one more test paid 100% by me - having my heavy metal load assessed. The test involved having Calcium EDTA administered by IV, then monitoring my urine over a 6 hour period. A sample was mailed off to a lab for analysis. I was aghast to receive the results – three times what is regarded as a safe level of lead in my body! Maybe it comes from my childhood when, for a period of 11 years, we lived in a very old house with lead soldered copper plumbing. My cadmium was slightly elevated, and mercury not graphed though I have plenty of amalgam fillings. I don’t have any symptoms of lead poisoning – weakened bones, exhaustion or cognitive problems as yet, but this could predispose me to such problems as I age.

Soon after, I scheduled for the initial minerals loading, prior to a 15 session course of IV chelation therapy, but was unable to tolerate the infusion. I was referred to the website of Dr. Garry Gordon who pioneered chelation therapy in the U.S. and was able to borrow his book on oral chelation therapy from our library. I am currently reading up on this slower method of getting the lead out, along with many other natural chelators I can add to my diet – Vitamin C, garlic, malic acid (from green apples), beets to name a few.

At 25 minutes, the water is deep orange , indicating that toxins from the joints have been deposited in the water.

At 25 minutes, the water is deep orange , indicating that toxins from the joints have been deposited in the water.

My health provider also recommended I use an ionizing footbath to start reducing the load myself. I was able to borrow this gizmo from a chiropractor and it seems to be working very well. Every three days I spend 3o minutes with my feet in a tub of warm water with a pinch of salt added. Also immersed in the water is a coiled component called an array that is attached to a low dc power supply, and I wear a dampened wristband also connected to the unit. The current causes the metals in the array along with the water and a pinch of salt to generate positively and negatively charged ions by separating the oxygen and hydrogen in the water. These draw toxins of various kinds out through the feet, which feel slightly tingly. You can tell the nature of the toxins by the color of the bath. For example, black flecks are heavy metals; orange is toxins from the joints. My husband who has been tested with a lesser lead load than mine tried the bath too. He had a much slower reaction and less intense color in the bath. I intend to do several courses of treatment, then have my heavy metal load retested. I’ve been warned that as one metal comes out, others may show up as my body works to dispel layers of toxic build up. I may still take oral chelation, but for now I am fascinated to experiment with the foot bath – maybe it’s all I’ll need!

If you’d like to know more about this therapy, see “IonCleanse detoxification: Getting the issues out of tissues.” Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, Jun.04: 100-104. (UAA/APU access)

Menus with calories coming!

Dunkin Donuts Bagel Sandwich 690 Cals, more fat than 3 glazed donuts!

Dunkin Donuts Bagel Sandwich 690 Cals, more fat than 3 glazed donuts!

Last month Time magazine ran an article on calorie-conscious menus – likely coming soon to a restaurant near you! This follows from the recent bipartisan agreement in the Senate to include a federal menu-labeling law as part of the upcoming health-care reforms. The restaurant industry is supporting this rather than have different regulatory regimes across the nation. A study published in the May issue of American Journal of Public Health shows that if people are aware of the caloric value of their food choices, they tend to select items with fewer calories. It is encouraging that some food chains are already tweaking ingredients in high-cal items to make their counts less scary. However it is anticipated that over time customers will stop even noticing this information.  The best bet is still to prepare food yourself with least processing from the best fresh food you can afford – then you know what went into it, and your conscience will tell you if you are out of line and your waistline is under threat! 

Colonoscopy – the elephant in the room!

Last month I finally had the colonoscopy my ANP had been pushing for the past 2 years! It was time. I’d just turned 60! There were no family risk factors I knew, but colorectal cancer (colon or rectum) is the 2nd most common type of cancer in North America, and Lori was not yet convinced a virtual one is as reliable.

The preparation was bad; trying to work, powered only with clear apple and white grape juice the day before the procedure sent me home at noon with such a fuzzy head, I almost got on the wrong bus. I drank some clear lemonade with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in it (for brain food) and slept for 4 hours, something I never do in the daytime. So, Tip #1: Ensure your clear fluids pack plenty of sweetener – natural is best! I woke in time to take my first dose of MoviPrep - the liter of sweet but salty,lemon-flavored  fluid guaranteed to clean out the colon fast. Tip#2: Don’t leave the bathrooom once you’ve finished that liter till you are sure it’s safe! I slept well, but had to wake at 6 am to take the second liter, which was even more effective than the first! No further fluids were permissible till afterwards (around 12:30 pm)- so that was tough. I was very thirsty.

I checked into the Alaska Digestive Center at 10:30 am, filled out numerous forms and disclaimers, and the intake nurse made sure my husband would be on deck to drive me home and watch over me for the next 6 hours… The paper gown was thin, and I was freezing by now. Tip#3: Wear warm, thick socks! They brought me a heated blanket – a real treat, started a saline IV and asked a few more questions about any allergies I have – none that I know of. They also took my blood pressure, and maybe because mine is normally very low, inserted an oxygen cannula in my nostrils. Then they wheeled my bed, IV and all into the procedure room and I was introduced to Dr. McLendon who would do the colonoscopy.  That done, the nurse added the sedative to the IV and I was out!

diverticua2Next thing I knew I was back in the recovery room, and my husband had arrived. I was happy to hear they found no polyps, but I do have some small pockets called diverticulae in my large colon, which are ostensibly caused by stress, or constipation.  I was a bit puzzled by this as I have always eaten lots of fruit and vegetables, as well as heavy grain breads. But the primary function of fiber in the colon is to absorb water from the surrounding tissues to ease elimination, and I suddenly realized I’ve never drunk much of anything in the past, and really should be paying attention to that if I don’t want to develop more of them.  Incidentally these don’t cause problems unless they catch food particles or stool, which cause inflammation, causing diverticulitis. This can be serious, as it kills off part of the colon tissue!  Tip #4: Always drink plenty of water, no matter how healthy your diet.  Once dressed, I was plied with post-procedure instructions, both verbal and printed, and we headed home for a most welcome lunch.

Later that day, I developed  very itchy eyes, a runny nose and congestion in my head.  I decided it was an allergic attack, and reported it during the follow-up call from the Center next day. The nurse said they’ve only seen one instance of this before, so I did a little research. The only evidence I could find was a 1989 letter in the Archives of Dermatology which described the allergic reaction of a 67 year old woman to the uncured epoxy resin in the nasal cannula she had bee using:  Could this be my problem too?  It was unpleasant for three days, but I am O.K. now. Nevertheless, Tip#5: Ask if additional oxygen is really necessary? You may be allergic to this plastic too. Well – I’m good for another 10 years, by which time I hope we can all go virtual!