Maybe Food is not the (only) Answer?
After my success with AIP and Low FODMAP i was sure that with proper nutrition, I could save the world. On this journey, I have found how very important it is to be your own health advocate. All doctors take different approaches, come to the table with a different set of tools, want you to take different supplements. Its up to you to do research on your own, make a note of how you feel, stick to the program (or not) to make progress.
I still believe that food is medicine. There are plenty of people out there who've gone this far down the rabbit hole and are living much happier, healthier lives. There are people who feel that way from just switching to all Organic and non-GMO food! My story is just a little more involved. I still believe in food being the foundation, for everyone. It's just about finding what makes you feel great, and eating that. Beyond that, sometimes we all need a little help.
I made a hashtag while traveling with the band #howdoyoueatontheroad which is what people ask me when they find out I'm doing AIP low FODMAP, here's some examples, lots of food bags in the van and stops at the grocery store!
I met up with Dr. Ruscio in September 2014. He's a functional medicine doctor located in Walnut Creek, CA. I told him all my prior symptoms, my family history of IBDs (Celiac, IBS, Diverticulitis etc.), my current symptoms, the elimination diets I'd tried, what worked, what didn't. He ran the gamut of blood tests. (my labs are up on another post for reference). We did stool tests, everything. I wanted to check for lyme disease, epstein barr, parasites, ANYTHING that could be holding me back from feeling 100%.
My tests came back to show that I had SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and Candida. Over the next two months, we treated the SIBO with anti-microbials for two months. You can also treat SIBO with antibiotics. I'd been trying hard to rebuild my gut microbiome and didn't want anything else wiping it out so we went this route. My symptoms were awful. Month one, it felt like I was off AIP (despite sticking to my protocol): Bloating, irritation, fatigue, it was a super bummer. Month two seemed to have all the mental symptoms but none of the physical. Bloating went away but I was super anxious and depressed and moody for that month. Once it was gone, I was back to square one. I felt just as great with NO SIBO as i did WITH SIBO. Still on the same diet, still at 80%.
Dr. Ruscio and I followed up. We re-tested for SIBO twice just to make sure it was gone. I wanted to get scoped. I thought that the rest of the symptoms I was having were linked to an IBD, my tests showed I have markers for Crohn's Disease, gut inflammation and low b12. My family has a history of IBD issues. I made an appointment the next day to meet a gastroenterologist. We scheduled an endoscopy and colonoscopy as soon as possible.
The findings from the scope were that I had a hiatal hernia and ulcers in my intestines, mostly around my ileocecal valve (the junction between large and small intestines.) The hypothesis was Crohn's Disease. It would have made sense that AIP and Low FODMAP improved my condition as Crohn's is an auto immune disease, mostly manageable with diet.
They wanted to do a capsule test and standard GI doc blood tests, to be sure. I swallowed a pill shaped camera that would take pictures as it traveled through my guts, to see what was going on in the stomach and small intestines, where the colonoscopy and endoscopy don't reach. I'm skipping a chunk of time here but basically the capsule test showed that that was all they saw. They also did a "gold standard" blood test for Celiac, and an IBD panel. They don't think that I have Crohn's definitively, based on that blood test, despite my genetic markers. They did want to re-test for SIBO again but I chose not to at that time.
In around July of 2015, I worked with a nutritionist briefly who has some really great information on digestion, here. I think this video series (which costs 50 cents) is SO SUPER AMAZING! Learn how your body actually breaks down food, the dangers of antacids and how important HCL and bile are to that process. It would be instrumental in improving your own digestion and it's basically free!
I put in a consultation call to Megan Rand over at Ginger Newtrition. I found her through a skin care company i LOVE called Fat Face Skincare. Megan and I went over all the steps I'd taken so far with gut, diet, stress etc. and talked about how all my blood tests were coming back relatively "normal" yet i felt 80% and looked awful. I asked her if anything seemed like it was glaringly obvious, in terms of an option I hadn't tried yet. She asked if I'd done a parasite cleanse. 85% of her clients that are struggling with similar issues, passed large parasites on a cleanse. I followed the link she sent me HERE. I also checked in with Will (see nutritionist paragraph above) to see if he'd heard about it. He sent me to this site.
I followed Dr. Hulda Clark's parasite cleanse and passed eggs, flukes, roundworms, pieces of worms. It was so crazy (and gross, but still cool). I ended up doing the program twice to be sure I'd gotten them all out. KEEP IN MIND THAT MY PRIOR LAB WORK SHOWED NO SIGNS OF PARASITES OR EGGS, AND THEY HID DURING MY COLONOSCOPY AND CAPSULE TEST. They burrow, it's gross.
No part of my condition improved after the cleanse but I was glad that however the parasites had been allowed to thrive in my body, I'd gotten rid of them. Being parasite-less frees up the energy my body to run more efficiently and work on healing rather than supporting other organisms. I suggest this for anyone who has any leaky gut, digestion, skin or auto immune symptoms. If you are experiencing those, your body has probably been compromised enough to allow them to grow from egg stage to adult stage.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Fall of 2015 I saw another functional medicine doctor, Dr. Lalezar, located in Los Angeles. Through her standard round of testing I found out that I have unsafe levels of mercury and lead in my system. We assume they were from amalgam fillings that I'd had since childhood. (I don't eat a lot of fish in general, or larger, mercury heavy fish. Though I could have gotten some from eating sushi occasionally.) Lead is also found in some municipal pipe junctions (via tap water, it can get into you). Her protocol is remove toxins, then work on rebuilding and healing the body. I'd been working on healing and re building with food but didn't know that I'd had this metal in me, preventing the healing. (I still check in with Dr. Ruscio, I think it's important to keep everyone in the loop so we can all learn from different experiences. Everyone presents differently, there's no right way to treat someone.)
I'm in the process now of going through chelation, where they pull the metal out of your body. There are varying schools of thought on how to do this (oral, IV). It can be dangerous so you need to make sure your body is ready to go through it and that if you do have any metal fillings left, that you have them removed first. (I suggest finding a holistic dentist as removing amalgams must be done very carefully and specifically.)
It turns out that after 5 rounds of chelation and a re-test for levels, they higher than we originally thought. I am doing 2 more of DMPS IV chelation for mercury and 2 rounds of Calcium-EDTA IV for lead. She does this in conjunction with Glutathione which is an antioxidant that helps your body pass the metal quicker into your urine so as not to re-toxify you during chelation. It is exhausting, just like the SIBO treatment. I've had physical symptoms: bloating, fatigue, mood swings, loose stool, irritability during the whole process. My hope is that metal toxicity could be the final key in unlocking the final part of my story. It causes the immune system to be weak, it causes leaky gut, one of the main side effects of mercury toxicity is fatigue and brain fog.
Here's some information on Chelation:
I'll post again as I have an update!
For now I'm scheduled to chelate through Feb 18 when we retest to see where I'm at.
My skin examples, ON AIP, good days and bad.
It seems to break out just before ovulation. It's not yet consistent. It's gotten better with the chelation. It's seemed to start in my cheeks, heal there as i changed my diet. It inflames if i have any offending foods (sometimes by accident). It's sort of traveled down my face into my neck as I keep progressing step by step to feeling better.
See my Road to Recovery post here!