Our TBI Journey – updated

In April of 2002, our eldest son fell asleep at the wheel on his way to an English Composition class. He stayed up late that night to finish the paper he planned to hand in for that class. In just a few weeks, he planned graduate from the community college at the age of 18.

His car crossed the center line of the well traveled country road. Then it met the back wheel of a tractor trailer carrying several tons of steel pipe and traveling in the opposite direction. The truck’s axle bent and the resulting flat tire deflated, sounding like an explosion.

Thank God, no one else became involved in the accident and the skilled driver managed to keep his pipes on board.

The car spun around and landed on the shoulder of the road.

After 45 minutes, the Jaws of Life freed him from his vehicle. A helicopter arrived just in time to take him to a nearby hospital – one of the best in the area.

When we arrived there, they told us he showed no brain activity. During the next 4 days, he began to show signs of reacting, only to experience spikes in his inter-cranial pressure. These spikes returned him to a “no brain activity” state.

During that time, we relied on little more than prayer, because we signed paperwork forbidding us from bringing any supplements or anything from outside in to him.

Our children grew up knowing only natural remedies for their few ailments. My husband and I needed essential oils, along with our prayers, to keep us calm and focused. We used a bunch of Valor and Peace and Calming (P&C), especially at night.

Recently, studies show that if a certain area of the brain is kept from firing during those critical first hours and/or days after a trauma, it decreases the incidence of PTSD. Perhaps his smelling the P&C on us helped him during the ensuing years.

After four days, he began to show more consistent signs of reacting. The medical team remained very guarded, if not somewhat pessimistic, about his prognosis. The neurologist told us she never saw anything like this. Her description of his becoming more reactive after experiencing no brain activity: “Usually, it only happens once….”

A nurse friend of ours observed to the nurse in charge of his care that his home smelled unlike a hospital, but “more like a bunch of herbs and stuff”. If we wanted him to come out of his coma, she advised us to bring in things that smelled more like home. The nurse agreed. So someone brought a selection of essential oils to the hospital.  We also shared our oils with other families in the waiting room, with some interesting results.

Our first thought, once we could use the oils was: Valor! We knew that he was literally fighting for his life and needed all the courage he could muster. In addition, my Raindrop training taught me that essential oils increase the oxygenation of the blood.

Of course, we were not allowed to use anything around his head because of the monitoring apparatus attached there. His crushed left leg was in a cast with the oxygen monitor attached. They figured that if his blood oxygen was OK there, then the rest of his body should be just fine. Since our only access remained to his right foot for oil application, whenever we went into his room, I headed for that right foot while Hubby headed for the monitors.

The first time I put the Valor on his foot, within just a few seconds, Hubby shouted: “Whoah!”

Apparently, there were two monitors for the oxygen level. Fortunately, his blood oxygenation level was solid throughout his stay in ICU. Of course the percentage never exceeds 99, but Hubby saw the other gauge jump dramatically. The next time we went in the boy’s room, we called in the nurse, who confirmed that it indicated that the oxygen in the blood rose dramatically, and remained there for an extended period of time.

While we maintain our gratitude for the medical help that supported him when he remained in such dire straits, the interventions are not without risk. Before long, our son had major infection issues: meningitis from the monitors in his skull and two kinds of pneumonia from the respirator. An infection specialist was called in and he was put on 4 very strong antibiotics: “for at least two weeks, then we will see….”

At this point we began using ImmuPower and Thieves. We alternated the two. In four days, there was no sign of the meningitis. The immune specialist thought the lab made a mistake, but repeated testing confirmed the infection was gone.

Two and a half weeks after his accident, they finally spoke about him leaving ICU (other than under a sheet). In addition, information came through that discussion the day of his arrival centered on the choice to fix his crushed leg or to harvest his organs.

After a month in ICU, the boy moved to skilled nursing because he was still in a coma. By this time, he had a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. The monitors were removed from his head shortly before he moved to skilled nursing. Now we could put the oils anywhere on his body.

His face, left arm, and left leg were covered with scars. I put lavender on the scars. One nurse, after her 4 day weekend, declared that she hardly knew him because of the improvement in his face during that time. Only the name on his chart assured her he was the same patient.

Soon after he arrived at the skilled nursing facility, the head nurse pulled me aside to tell me her nurses suffered with headaches because of the lavender oil we used. However, one staff member advocated for us, saying that the oils really made a big difference for him. So the head nurse required us to close the door and open the window whenever using the oils. No problem, springtime provided very pleasant outdoor weather.

Oddly, however, a few days later several of the nurses seemed to find reasons to come into his room whenever I applied the lavender and/or Valor with the door closed. One even came in one day, took a deep breath and declared that it smelled like he had been to church.

Gary Young always tells us: “Don’t put anything on your skin that you would not put in your mouth.”

We turned this concept around and applied liquid nutrients to his arms, legs, and torso since he could not take anything by mouth. I diluted Mineral Essence and used a liquid B complex to do a massage.

His left arm and leg were wracked with muscle spasms. We massaged them with basil, marjoram, cypress, and peppermint several times each day. Of course I continued to put Valor on his feet.

With the apparatus removed from his head, I finally took the opportunity to use a tofu plaster on him. A couple Tablespoons of tofu mix with enough flour to hold it together and laced with frankincense oil. I place the mixture in a cotton sock and apply to the injured area. After applying the tofu, he spoke his first words since the accident – two months to the day and on his brother’s birthday.

A month passed in skilled nursing before we transferred him to a rehab hospital.

As we searched for appropriate placement, we grilled the officials at each hospital we visited. Since we gained so much success with the oils, we insisted that we be allowed to continue to use them.

Most places dispensed a firm “NO!”

We finally found one that allowed their use, as long as we gave a list to their pharmacist.

At the rehab hospital, they removed the trache and the feeding tube. We worked with the nutritionist to make sure that most of the food he got was nutritious. He had fresh fruit and veggies with each meal. She also purchased rice and soy milk for him, because of his dairy allergy. We made fresh tea with his meals as well.

We continued using Valor and the leg oils. We added frankincense and Brain Power. His college buddies borrowed Brain Power for finals week and were thrilled with the results.

We also gave him scullcap and gotu kola herb tea with each meal. A few days after we started, he declared to the internist that the herbs gave him more pain relief than the drugs. You could have knocked the poor fellow over with a feather, because he had never heard the boy say two words, but this was delivered clearly, in full sentences.

Four weeks from when we started giving him the tea, he made a major cognitive leap. The speech therapist, who tried to push Ritalin felt victorious that we finally gave in. We made sure she knew that was not even a possibility.

We soon found out that the antispasmodic medication he took sent his blood pressure into the basement. So, between getting him off that and giving him the tea, he made steady progress.

He finally came home four months after his accident on no medication at all. He remains medication free to this day. Many people find that radical.

Government organizations refuse to provide help to us because he is not on medication.

Of course, still severely impaired, he remained wheelchair bound and needed constant attention. So we continued with the oils we had been using and added various other oils as the need arose, and as new ones became available.

I also facilitate Raindrop on him, learning in a dramatic way that the direction of motion is opposite from the way we usually perform it.

Six months after he came home, he suddenly left the wheelchair behind (except when we have long distances to cover), much to the surprise of his physical therapist.

We use many of the nutritional products as well: Super B, Super C, Mineral Essence, Sulfurzyme, other enzymes, omega 3 oils…. And we fed him a nutrient rich diet.

As time went on, we found several other useful resources:


•    Extra Virgin and Fermented Coconut Oil has been shown to improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. We see continual cognitive improvement in our son as he consumes coconut oil.

•    Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAs) help to rebuild damaged brain tissues. This has been observed in studies with rats with induced brain injuries. They also aid the repair and building of muscle tissues. Our son’s wasted muscles show increased bulk as we supplement with BCAs.

•    Chia Seeds contain very concentrated nutrients, including a number of vital minerals as well as Omega 3 fats. They help to keep the digestive channels healthy.

•    Sea vegetables (we prefer dulse, but also use kelp and nori) provide a wide array of minerals which also help to repair damaged tissues, support the glandular system, and enhance the immune system.

•    Ambrotose – a complex containing glyconutrients, which feed the cells of the body, enhancing the immune system and possibly assisting in the production of stem cells to repair bodily tissues.

•    Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments (HBOT), which supply the body with needed oxygen, even to areas which were without needed oxygen for a time. We saw immediate improvement in our son’s language with his HBOT experiences.

•    Rain Soul and Core – seed based nutritional products which have ingredients, extensively studied to have wide ranging benefits throughout the body.


Traumatic Brain Injury is not a simple issue, so it takes a great deal of resources and much of commitment to wade through and get the best results possible. Many dire prognoses were put down on our son, and he surpassed every single one of them. He has slowly, but steadily progressed over the past 12 years, even after we were told we could expect no more progress.

We still face a very long road to his full recovery. Many tell us we hold impossible objectives for him and I have been told that nothing I do makes any difference. However, we continue to hope for the highest quality of life he can attain.

Exciting things are happening at Grains of Hope. We now have weekly live broadcast classes on Google Hangouts.

Our first broadcast examined the way to Sail Through Winter with Your Health Intact. This class focuses mostly on essential oils and how they can enhance the immune system to avoid illnesses or lessen the impact if one manages to succumb to one of the numerous bugs that make an impact during the winter:

Watch for our next broadcast. You can follow our schedule on Google Plus

You can purchase the oils mentioned in the video at Young Living Essential Oils. We recommend Young Living essential oils. These are the ones we use most and find give the best results. Other brands of essential oils may not give the same results.

Sailing Through Winter with Your Health Intact Broadcast

Which Fruits and Vegetables Must You Buy Organic?

Apples - #1Organic fruits and vegetables sometimes cost more than conventional ones.

Where do you think Strawberries fall on the list?Since we are all budget conscious, it is time to think about which produce we should make a priority to buy organic.

Onions - your best betThe Environmental Working Group produces an annual list assessing which fruits and vegetables are most likely to contain the most (or least) pesticides.

Cherries - it depends where they are grownYou may be surprised at the produce that occupy either end of the spectrum.

The Full List: 45 Fruits and Veggies | EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.

Healthiest Foods on Earth


Pineapple – Speeds post-surgery, Promotes joint health, Reduces asthma inflammation.

Blueberries – Restore antioxidant levels, Reverse age-related brain decline, Prevent urinary tract infection.

Spinach – Helps maintain mental sharpness, Reduces the risk of cancers of the liver, ovaries, colon and prostate, Top nutrient density.

Red Bell Pepper – Reduces risk of lung, prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer, Protects against sunburn, Promotes heart health.

Broccoli – Reduces diabetic damage, Lowers risk of prostate, bladder, colon, pancreatic, gastric and breast cancer, Protects the brain in event of injury.

Tomato – Reduces inflammation, Lowers risk of developing esophageal, stomach, colorectal, lung and pancreatic cancer, Reduces cardiovascular disease risk.

Apple – Supports immunity, Fights lung and prostate cancer, Lowers Alzheimer’s risk.

Artichoke – Helps blood clotting, Antioxidant Superfood, Lowers “bad” cholesterol.

Arugula – Lowers birth defect risk, Reduces fracture risk, Protects eye health.

Asparagus – Nourishes good gut bacteria, Protects against birth defects, Promotes heart health.

Avocado – Limits liver damage, Reduces oral cancer risk, Lowers cholesterol levels.

Blackberries – Build bone density, Suppress appetite, Enhance fat burning.

Butternut Squash – Supports night vision, Combats wrinkles, Promotes heart health.

Cantaloupe – Bolsters immunity, Protects skin against sunburn, Reduces inflammation.

CarrotAntioxidants defend DNA, Fights cataracts, Protects against some cancers.

Cauliflower – Stimulates detoxification, Suppresses breast cancer cell growth Defends against prostate cancer.

Cherries – Alleviate arthritic pain and gout , Lower “bad” cholesterol, Reduce inflammation.

Cranberries – Alleviate prostate pain, Fight lung, colon and leukemia cancer cells, Prevent urinary tract infection.

Green Cabbage – Promotes healthy blood clotting, Reduces risk of prostate, colon, breast and ovarian cancers, Activates the body’s natural detoxification systems.

Kale – Counters harmful estrogens that can feed cancer, Protects eyes against sun damage and cataracts, Increases bone density.

Kiwi – Combats wrinkles, Lowers blood clot risk and reduces blood lipids, Counters constipation.

Mango – Supports immunity, Lowers “bad” cholesterol, Regulates homocysteine to protect arteries.

Mushrooms – Promote natural detoxification, Reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer, Lower blood pressure.

Orange – Reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol, Lowers risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, breast and stomach, and childhood leukemia, Pectin suppresses appetite.

Papaya – Enzymes aid digestion, Reduces risk of lung cancer, Enhances fat burning.

Plums & Prunes – Counter constipation, Antioxidants defend against DNA damage, Protects against post-menopausal bone loss.

Pomegranate – Enhances sunscreen protection, Lowers “bad” cholesterol, Fights prostate cancer.

Pumpkin Seeds – Protects joints against polyarthritis, Lowers lung and prostate cancer risk, Reduces inflammation.

Raspberries – Inhibit growth of oral, breast, colon and prostate cancers, Antioxidant DNA defense, Lower “bad” cholesterol levels.

Strawberries – Protect against Alzheimer’s, Reduce “bad” cholesterol, Suppress growth of colon, prostate and oral cancer.

Sweet Potato – Reduces stroke risk, Lowers cancer risk, Protect against blindness.

Watermelon – Supports male fertility, Reduces risk of several cancers: prostate, ovarian, cervical, oral and pharyngeal, Protects -skin against sunburn.

Banana – Increases Fat Burning, Lowers risk of colorectal and kidney cancer, leukemia, Reduces asthma symptoms in children.


Growing Pains

I have big plans for this blog.

I have been posting articles here and here, as well as on Facebook from time to time.  I also have my regular website, which I hope to migrate to this one eventually.

But for now, I am getting the framework put together for this blog:

  • I am planning an almost infinite set of entries on various foods around the world, particularly those that we find in our ethnic markets here in the U.S.  We have come a long way in the past few decades, in terms of choices in our grocery stores, due in large part to the immigrant populations. Still, most Americans are unfamiliar with fruits and vegetables beyond our short list (most of which are heavily treated with pesticides):
    • bananas (this is a topic for another post)
    • corn (which is highly genetically modified)
    • tomatoes (I could go on and on about commercially available tomatoes)
    • potatoes (totally infiltrated with toxic chemicals, then we most often deep fry them, destroying any nutrition)
    • iceberg lettuce (which loses most of its nutrition within a couple of hours of harvest)
    • oranges (known for the ‘gas chamber’ that allows them to be picked and shipped green)
    • apples (which are waxed and ‘preserved with a potent neurotoxin).
    • seasonal fruits (like peaches, cherries, blueberries and strawberries) which we demand be available throughout the year, requiring a TON of technology.
  • Another project in the works is a list of blog carnivals related to foods and nutrition. I am looking for lots of reader input on this project.
  • From time to time, I will post excerpts from my healthy living classes (available by email here).
  • Of course, I will be sharing my ruminations on health, including lifestyle, informed consent, and food issues.
  • This list, I am sure, will grow as time and inspiration permit. 🙂


What is Grains of Hope Anyway?

Grains of Hope began in 1983. I was newly married and pregnant with my first child — a miracle child (I need another post to tell THAT story). After teaching special education for several years, I wanted to stay at home to care for this extra special gift of life we were blessed with.

As I looked at my possibilities, I realized that there is a deep current of healing talents in my heritage.

On the Road in MassachusettsMy maternal grandfather was a wise old Polish man who had much knowledge of herbal remedies. Whenever one of our family succumbed to an illness, he had suggestions that helped us to overcome. In fact, he saved my life when I was a wee baby (but that is a story for another post).

As I was researching my family history, I found that my paternal great grandmother was a well known (at the time) French Canadian herbalist, living in western Massachusetts.

In college, of course, I went the easy route: eating whatever was readily available in the dorms’ cafeteria. By the time I finished my schooling, I put on a good bit of weight, and found myself getting sick at the drop of a hat.

Talk about being led:

One summer, I worked at a Kosher Jewish summer camp, teaching cooking (of all things). Before I started that job, of course, I did a good bit of research on Kosher diet. Apparently, people who followed Kosher guidelines had fewer chronic diseases and were healthier over all.

Back at school that fall, my roommate’s mother moved in with us. She was on a very strict diet (prescribed by the Mayo Clinic) to control her severe arthritis. I felt better when Laura and I were adventuring in cooking.

After living with Laura for the school year, I went back to eating a Standard American diet (SAD). I was sick, depressed, had no motivation…. So I ‘stopped out’ of school after my junior year.

During my ‘time off’ from school, I worked in an Orthodox Jewish institution. Even though it was still institutional food, they did keep strict Kosher. I lost 40 pounds (partly from walking the mile into town each night to find some ‘entertainment).

Then I realized that special education was something I fully enjoyed and was fairly good at. So I went back to school and got my BS (in Communication Science).

Oue co-op looked like healthy living pharmacy

In graduate school, I joined a food co-op. People there taught me more about eating healthy foods, letting go of junk food, and introduced me to herbs as an aid to healthy living.

I read everything I could get my hands on (which was not much back in the mid ‘seventies) and asked questions whenever I was around anyone with any expertise.

I got on top of my health issues and people began to ask me for advice.

So, as a potential Stay at Home Mom, I figured I could offer classes on healthy living, herbs, and nutrition. It was nothing big or formal, but just a group of moms getting together to share information on keeping their families’ health.

Grains of Hope“But why Grains of Hope?” you may ask.

In my research, I found that throughout history, grains — in fact seeds of all kinds — were basic, staple foods for the majority of peoples.

Hope is a supernatural gift which gives us what we need to carry on through whatever trials we might face.

So, my ideal is to offer the seeds of knowledge and resources people need to give them motivation to make their lives better.