Coffee or Tea, What’s Better For Me?

I love both coffee and tea. Coffee is my “let’s get out of bed in the morning” drink, and tea is my “let’s relax before bed” drink. Both have similarities and differences, both taste good (at least in my opinion). They both have their purposes in my life, but that doesn’t mean they are created equal… does it? More than one medical professional has suggested that I switch to decaf coffee, though no one has recommended cutting back on tea (black or herbal). I wanted to do some further exploration on both, before deciding if I should give one up, or cut back on one, or leave my lifestyle the way it is. Let’s start with…

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Though my research of the health benefits of coffee (yay, health benefits!) I found a lot of similar evidence for certain things, and other sources adding a few others. Here are the consistencies that I was able to find:

  • Reduces the risk of Type II Diabetes
  • Reduces the risk of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Reduces the risk of liver disease
  • Reduces the risk of stroke
  • Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Reduces the risk of certain types of cancer
  • Reduces depression

There has also been recent reports that coffee drinkers live longer. I’ve seen these floating around Facebook, as well as some other sources online. Not sure if it’s true, but if it is, I guess that’s good news for me. Coffee is also a good source of antioxidants, but as with anything, moderation rules the nation, and we probably shouldn’t overindulge just to get them.

So if those are the benefits, what are the detriments? As any good journalist or documentarian knows, we need to look at both sides of the equation.

  • Increases anxiety
  • Negative effect on inflammatory bowel disease
  • Causes insomnia
  • Causes heart burn and acid reflux
  • Can be detrimental to those already suffering from Type II Diabetes and heart disease

My overall findings on coffee? I repeat my family’s motto: MODERATION RULES THE NATION!

IMG_1750.JPGMy current favorite coffee mug.

So then, what about tea?


It’s fairly common knowledge that tea has a lot of health benefits, which is only one of the reasons I love it (it also tastes good and is relaxing to drink). Here are a few of the benefits I could find:

  • Contains antioxidants
  • Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Battles cancer
  • Soothes the digestive system
  • Reduces risk of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Green tea helps Diabetics process sugars

What I noticed was that tea and coffee share a lot of similar benefits. Tea, happens to have a few different ones as well. So what about the detriments of tea? (Personally I had never heard of such a thing, but that’s what research is for!)

  • Causes anxiety
  • Causes insomnia
  • Increases risk of stomach ulcers
  • Prevents iron absorption
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All in all, there are huge advantages, and disadvantages to drinking coffee and tea. So, what’s better for me while fighting chronic pain? I’m not sure this is a question I was able to answer. They both can cause stomach issues, and aren’t good for anxiety. But they do help against things like depression, and they boost the immune system (coffee and tea respectively). I think I’m going to stick to where I’m at. A little bit of coffee in the morning, and a little bit of tea at night!


Accepting Your Inner and Outer Beauty

I went back and forth for awhile on how to approach this post, knowing that I wanted to write it after an experience I had at the beginning of July. As usual, I find that the best way to approach any subject is to just dive right into it and go from there. It’s so easy to feel insecure when your body isn’t cooperating with you. Whether or not you are normally a confident person (I for the most part have always been) or if it’s something you’ve always struggled with, add in autoimmune disease, chronic illness, or chronic pain, and self-perception begins to change.

IMG_1898Just because ducks are cute.

Inner beauty 101. My hip hurts, my knee hurts, my stomach is upset, I have anxiety, my brain is foggy… and so on, and so on, and so on. There can be a never-ending list of reasons that make someone dealing with chronic pain depressed, anxious, grumpy, and just, in general feeling down about themselves. As hard as it is to remember that those things are not you, it is extremely important to remember just that. You are the person dealing with those symptoms, they don’t define you. Think about the positive traits that make you, you. Are you kind? Fun? Smart? Ambitious? Giving? Whatever these traits are, make a list, keep them nearby. They are what make you beautiful, even when you’re not feeling that way. Everyone has bad days, and no one should ever make you feel guilty for having one, but the bad days don’t make up you. Let them go, and start again the next day. Hopefully it’s better.

IMG_1945My friend found this for me when I was having a bad day. I don’t think there could have been anything more aptly named.

Outer beauty 101. Depending on your overall symptoms, this can also be difficult. If it’s just chronic pain, it’s tough enough. If you’re dealing with other symptoms such as weight loss or gain, alopecia, rashes, etc., it can be harder to remember that you are physically beautiful. To your partner, your family, and hopefully to yourself. Normally I’m fairly confident in my looks. I’ve been told enough times that I’m pretty to be aware that it’s true, and I’m happy when I look in the mirror. I definitely struggled with body image when I was much younger, but I found myself to be a strong enough person to grow out of that stage on my own. The past few months, I found that because of physical pain, I haven’t been as confident as I once was. My sex drive is significantly lower (which is fine because I’m single) but also frustrating because that’s not me. During Pride this year, my friend and I walked by a booth and had an opportunity to spin a wheel. The prize was a gift card toward a nude photoshoot. I won $400 which covered the cost of the shoot and one free photo. It was definitely the confidence booster I needed. The photos were so good that I bought two more and got another free one because I let the photographer keep one for his portfolio. Now, by no means am I suggesting that everyone run out and have a nude photo session. However, if you are looking for a confidence boost, there are other ways to go about it. Go on a date, have a regular photoshoot, buy a new outfit. And just try to accept the fact that the definitions of beauty are broad. Even if your body has changed, it is still beautiful.

IMG_1851Photo shoot by Guy Raymond.

In the words of Christina Aguilera, “We are beautiful, in every single way. The world won’t bring us down.” Don’t let chronic pain drain you of you.

Some other perspectives on chronic pain and beauty:

Medical Marijuana – Is it For You?


Marijuana has been a controversial topic for a long time. As children and teens we are taught drugs are bad, and marijuana is a drug. The gateway drug… duh… duh… duh… Albeit a natural. When you’re young that’s never mentioned. Just bad But when can it be good? The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, promised to legalize marijuana. Though originally I believe it was supposed to be this year, it looks like July, 2018 will be the closest time. In the meantime, the Toronto police seem to waste their resources on busting dispensaries. Yes, marijuana is still illegal, but isn’t there something more productive they could do? That rant aside, what are the benefits of medical marijuana, how do you know if you should take it, and how do you go about obtaining it if you should? These are the questions I’ve been trying to answer myself for quite some time.

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Over a year ago, my then partner was a huge advocate for me taking marijuana medicinally to help with my pain. Since we didn’t actually have a medical marijuana prescription, what she really meant was let’s buy some pot and see if it works. Her mother, also a big advocate, encouraged us to try it out. To my surprise, and their happiness, when we did buy some, we found it worked. Especially for sleeping. I had less pain at night and was therefore able to get a better sleep (and so did my partner because of it). Since I’m not a huge fan of smoking in general (I hate that burning feeling when taking a hit), my girlfriend found a recipe online for pot brownies, so we did that for awhile. I liked them much better because they gave me the same pain relief without having to smoke. The only problem was her baking wasn’t always exact so I was never sure how big a piece to take.

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Then we found dispensaries. Whey we didn’t just go there in the first place is beyond me. I filled out a form and checked off all my ailments from a list – lupus, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, anxiety. No problem. The options were limitless and included chocolate bars (and a friend of my partner’s gave me jolly ranchers at one point). Same positive effects on my body, and now without having to guess how much to take.

So what are the benefits of medical marijuana? There are so many, ti’s hard to say where to being. Let’s start with the obvious: it eases PAIN. For all kinds of different conditions from lupus to MS to muscle spasms to cancer to arthritis and so forth. My second favourite reason is that it can decrease anxiety. As long as the dose is low, you can become quite chill without a worry. Third favourite? At 29 I was diagnosed with glaucoma (far too young to be diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease but we can thank genetics for that). Marijuana actually lowers eye pressure. Which I find easy to believe since my eye pressure hasn’t gone up since I started using pot. What else is good about it? It can stop, or lessen the intensity,  of seizures, slow the growth of cancer, slow tremors in Parkinson’s patients, and slow the progression of Alzheimers. The list of benefits goes on and on. There are constantly studies, and there are even videos posted on YouTube. I’ll link one here for you now!

How do you know if you should take it? The advice of a healthcare practitioner is definitely helpful. I asked my rheumatologist about it and she was dismissive. She doesn’t know enough about it. To be fair, they don’t teach much about medical marijuana in med school, and most doctors aren’t taught how to prescribe it. My naturopath was the doctor who recommended it. It makes sense. Marijuana is natural, and naturopaths… well they are all about natural treatments. Her reasons for recommendation were, a) I was already using it as a painkiller, b) it is a painkiller that is not harmful to the body, and c) it’s also good for anxiety. She actually recommended that I smoke/ingest it five to seven days a week, though I’ve never done it more than four. The other way to decide if you should take it is to simply try and see if it works for you. That’s what I did, and I found that it was way better than all the pain killers I was prescribed. Most of which will probably kill my liver over time. All marijuana does is make me dopey before bed (and when I wake up in the morning but that usually wears off pretty quickly).

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How to obtain it… legally? Oh, this is the toughest question of them all. Currently, the only was is to get a prescription. And not every doctor can give one. I’ve been on the waitlist to see two different pain specialists, and two different clinic for eight months now. My rheumatologist won’t prescribe it, and my GP and naturopath aren’t allowed to. So currently I have no option but to continue to wait (probably forever) to see a pain specialist and in the meantime, use the dispensaries. Though not legal, typically no one is charged with possession when they buy the small amounts they do. The big problem with this, as I mentioned at the top of my post, is that the dispensaries are constantly being raided and temporarily shut down. Though there are more out there, it is becoming annoying to go find a new one all the time. Not to discourage anyone who’s reading this and wants to try medical marijuana. This is just the reality.

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I’m not saying that medical marijuana is right for everyone, but if you’re already ingesting a ton of pain killers that may or may not be working, you might as well give it a try. It has far less long lasting effects on your body than whatever else you’re taking, and you just might find it work as good for you as it does for me!