Category Archives: chronic

Inflammation, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and the Food We Eat

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The Toxic Truth About the Gluten Free Diet http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/04/the-toxic-truth-about-gluten-free-food-and-celiac-disease/#more-3490

I’ve just come across this and thought I’d better share.  The fact is that it has been more than 4 years since I read Gut & Psychology Syndrome which helped me to understand why I was sick.  It has been more than four years of forgetting, and I have never since felt as completely healthy and strong since.  I have been wondering why, when I no longer have most of the FMS symptoms I still get occassional feelings of flare ups, and just a general feeling of fragility despite my lack of symptoms.

I’ll admit, I eat a lot of brown rice.  Most of it is sprouted to eliminate the problems that this article talks about, but some of it (that contained in the brown rice crackers and the brown rice pasta) is not sprouted.

Alas, I think it is time for me to read the GAPS book again so that my choices can be made from an informed place again.  For those who have not yet looked into the GAPS program, I highly recommend it.  It was utterly integral to my healing process.  For those who have, but are overwhelmed try reading a bit about the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet).  There is a lot more information and support for this one, but they are essentially the same, with only a few minor differences.

I picked up the GAPS Guide companion book a few years ago, and would like to recommend that one too.  It goes a long way in the hand-holding department.  For those utterly new to healthy eating, you might also like the Internal Bliss Cookbook.   I got mine here:  http://www.shop.gapsdiet.com/category.sc;jsessionid=9C6FB7D261DFF619D218B7A5483565ED.qscstrfrnt06?categoryId=7

I don’t get any kickbacks or anything like that.  It’s just where I picked up my copies.

That being said, my real introduction to healing diets was from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook and the Wild Fermentation book.  Nourishing Traditions will teach you how to eat some of these dangerous foods in a way that renders them not just safe, but nutritious as well.

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Detox blues

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It seems that cutting the wheat cold turkey and adding in more bone stock and coconut oil are causing some serious detox symptoms for me and pretty minor ones for J.  First it was breakouts and dry patches on my face.  Then I started what seems to be a cycle of 4 or 5 days of increasing nausea, exhaustion, intestinal struggles, dizziness and that general “I’m getting the flu” icky feeling.  Then it subsides and I have 4 or 5 days of increasing health before I start over again.

About four days ago I started to have this unpleasant tingle-hurt feeling in my lip where I found a tiny lump deep inside.  By the time I got home 5 or so hours later it was blooming into a cold sore such as I have never seen.  I have had about 5 small cold sores in the same spot over the past 10 years.  I know the drill and the look of this one was beyond my comprehension.  I knew it would be bad as it was clearly going to be some 6 times larger than anything I’d ever seen before, but I wasn’t really prepared for all of the symptoms of it to be multiplied so.  I spare you the details, but I’ll tell you that the pain literally brought me to the floor two mornings in a row.  On the afternoon of the worst day I nearly fainted from the intensity of the unceasing pain.  I’ve had three home births.  I can do a little discomfort, but this was wicked, searing, torturous pain that will likely have me quaking in my boot the next time I think I may be getting one.

Now that it’s winding down and on its way out I’ve got an absurdely large canker sore forming inside my lip near my gum line.

Oh the joys of detoxing.  The answer I suppose is to work the other lines of elimination a bit better… more detox baths, more skin brushing, more water…  Being that I’m still nursing little S, I cannot partake in any of the more rigorous detoxing methods, so this could drag out for me for a while.

I’m also planning to go ahead and get some blood work done with a naturopathic doctor or a DOM to see exactly what’s going on in my body and what I can do to ease symptoms and better support my body.  I’ll be meeting with a master herbalist as well to get the lowdown on what exactly I can and cannot take to aid this process of healing up my body.  This kind of thing is a bit beyond my family herbalist training.

Another thing that I have been thinking of, but not acting on is acupuncture. It was such a huge help through this process the last time and I went three times a week for several months.   We’re lucky enough to  have a group session clinic even in our small town and this is how I was able to afford the treatments last time.  As with anything, consistency and regularity make a difference when it comes to healing, and it would be best for me to get out there at least once per week right now.  However, even once per month would be better than nothing at all.

A little note: if you haven’t checked your household cleaning and beauty products with the Environmental Watch Group’s databases yet, I highly recommend it.  It is hard to clean up your body and begin the path of healing if the poisons are still coming in and piling up.  Also consider staying away from anything with Nitrates and Nitrites, even wine.  Wine is something that though I love it, I can really only handle one glass every few months without feeling badly.   When I’m in a state of regular illness like I am now and anyone just beginning would be it is best to stay away from it entirely.

I’m doing better with the sugar that I’ve been getting in my Alter Eco chocolate bars.  I’ve cut down to only one small square in the evening which equates to a fraction of a gram of sugar.  I’ve also added in a few doses of Motherwort tincture (5 drops) three or so times per day while the detoxing symptoms are present and leaving me feeling stressed and sleep deprived.

Are you out there?  How are you doing?

 

Walking the Walk

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It is one thing to know what you have to do, and another completely to actually do it.  Consistency is a matter even beyond that.

Having successfully healed from Fibromyalgia and it’s corresponding depression, anxiety, exhaustion, etc.  I know what I have to do.    You might think that this would make it easier.  And yet, I still struggle with disbelief, and the myriad of other hurdles that keep people from making the choices that they want to be making.   I know that I feel dramatically better when I drink herbal infusions each day, when I take my fermented cod liver oil and probiotics consistently.  I know that sugar makes me feel sluggish with bouts of depression, irritability and heightened sense of stress and fear, and yet, I still eat bits of chocolate bar almost every night; telling myself that because it is dark, organic, fair trade and unrefined it is okay.  Well, it’s not likely to kill me, but it’s not going to allow me the feeling of health and strength that I want so badly.   The sometimes intense cravings for baked goods haven’t subsided yet either.

The healthiest I have ever felt was when my diet was completely free from all grains, additives and sugar.  I drank infusion and many glasses of water each day, took my probiotics and oils, went for regular acupuncture treatments, went to bed at 9 or 10, and listened to a guided meditation as I fell asleep. I was not only free from all symptoms, but also filled with a sense of vitality, peace and happiness that I had no memory of having before.  Simple it seems.  Easy even.   But beneath these simple things lies many lifestyle changes and a shakeup of belief systems.  It also takes the kind of will power and energy that we already feel deficient it.  It’s simple, yes, but not so very easy.

Sometimes I need the reminders of why these things work… in so many words.  Always I remember the underlying lesson.  Always I remember about heavy metals, deficiencies, sensitivites, dysbiosis, candida, fungal and bacterial imbalance… years and years of research fuels the affirmations that I make, but sometimes, I need a little boost.  Sometimes I need to remember the exact why of it all.  Sometimes I need to get real with myself and remember that if I don’t get a different life with the same old choices.

I have the most intensly desire inducing memory of having total freedom not just from symptoms, but also from feeling like a slave to the “lifestyle” and a soldier against cravings.   Food became a side note to my life, a means to an end.  Yes, I enjoyed the food, I made things that tasted good, but all in all I left behind that feeling of need attached to it.  Meals were not the highlight anymore.  I didn’t need chocolate or coffee even, and could hardly remember why I ever thought that I needed them.  I was grateful for the immensity of the feeling of freedom that I had.  That it what I want to get back to.   I don’t just want to be disease free.  I want more than that.  I want to be back to the person that was so alive, so healthy that I stood out in a crowd.   I didn’t have to talk to people about how I lived because they were constantly asking about my skin… the thing they assumed was the source of my “looking so healthy.”  I want to be back to falling asleep easily, waking up refreshed and ready, and filled with a sense of possibility through the days.  I’m ready to let go of being irritable and tired, short with my family, fearful of doing things and tired of life.

We have never juiced before.  It’s something that I never really researched, seemed expensive and possibly unnecessary, but today we decided to give it a try.  Last year I watched a documentary called the The Gerson Miracle and juicing has been on the back of my mind ever since.  We are planting almost 1,000 square feet of vegetables and herbs right now and juicing seems like a reasonable choice for us at this point.  Miso soup with sea vegetables is another thing that I would really like to get into our lives, but I am taking it in chewable doses.  Right now I’m working to continue with going to bed at the same time every night, remembering to stay fully hydrated, drink my infusions and take my oils.  I am recommitting to eliminating the sugar completely and increasing my vegetable intake.

I’ve also started taking 2 teaspoons of Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar mixed with a heaping teaspoon of raw honey, and 8oz of water.

Currently I have a series of days without pain and oppressive fatigue, but I’m still getting bouts of exhaustion, pain and general feelings of illness ever 5 days or so.  I’ve been without any pain relieving prescriptions for too long to count now.  Months I think.  I’m getting there, and oh god I swear when I get there I will not look back again.  I have learned my lesson.  Nothing that I want to eat, nothing that I want to not be bothered with is worth feeling like this.  I will do what it takes to be healthy and I will remember.  I wish so much that I had made some kind of journal of the process the last time, but it is what it is.  I am doing it now and I know that I will be damned if I forget again.

To our heath, Rebels, to our health.

 

 

Healing Fibromyalgia

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I thought I would post a link to the mini documentary that I was the subject of a few years ago.

It began when I was contacted by a graduate student from the University of Texas who was wanting to make a documentary.  The premise was telling the story of surviving life in America as a family dealing with chronic, debilitating illness.  We did not know that during the course of the filming I would discover the secret and finally cure myself of said disease.

Perhaps it was putting a spot light on what we were dealing with, perhaps it was serendipity, I don’t know.  I’m just so very glad that it turned out to be called Healing Fibromyalgia rather than Living with Disease in America.  Oy.  I never watch it.  I haven’t watched it since the first time.  I think I have always been afraid of jinxing myself.  I think I have always been afraid, unwilling to look back for this reason.  This is why I could not write about healing from Fibro until I was in the deepest throws of it again.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  I have wanted to make this site for three years and I am finally doing it.  I am grateful to be making a journal of what it’s like to go through this, of what I have to do and what is hard to do.

Anyhow, here’s the video:

Update – Week 2 Beginning

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We took a trip to Santa Fe this past week to pick up the pasture raised meat we buy from a farmer in West Texas.  It comes out to be ever, ever so much more nutritious than the meat we can buy at market, and even with the trip to Santa Fe it is considerably less expensive.  This time we brought home 82 pounds of meat and soup bones.

Because it is about two hours drive, and we have two small children and an infant, we prefer to stay the night,  take in the museums, and get the shopping done that we cannot do in Taos where we have only a small Walmart for most necessities.  This can pose a problem for a family that is working with severe diet restrictions, a budget and supplementation.  Sooo, we use an online booking site to score our favorite time-share hotel/condo.  The units come with a bedroom, full, stocked kitchen, dining table, and living room, for around $70 in the summer and $62 in the winter.  This allows us to prepare breakfast and dinner at our hotel and keep our food ready for packing a healthy, on the go lunch.

This time we opted for organic, homemade granola and plain yogurt with honey for breakfast so that we could just lounge in our PJs and have a lazy morning before taking in the town.  For lunch we had sliced Applegate Farms Peperoni, raw organic cheddar, rice crisp crackers, apples, and  oranges.  For snacks we had apples, oranges, dried figs, dried mango, raw almonds, pecans, peanuts and raisins.  Nichola had an extra snack of Wild Planet Sardines in marinara sauce and Quinn had the lemon variety.  They will each eat about 2/3 of a can and share some with Simone and Jeff.  Packed full of healthy omega fatty acids, and lacking in the mercury found in larger fish like tuna, this is a wonderful, not too expensive snack for them to be having.  I’ll be honest.  I can’t eat them straight.  Marinara sauce, or no, they wig me out.  I prefer to have them mixed in canola-free mayo with spices and served on crackers, just like tuna salad.

For dinner we took a jar of pre-soaked chickpeas and made soup.

Because of the fridge in the hotel (most come with at least a mini-fridge these days) we were able to take our cod liver oil, and I used my ceramic lidded coffee cup to take my tinctures through-out the day.  I found though that I only felt like I needed them once.   Sticking to “the rules” is helping a lot faster than I had expected.  I also noticed that the city water did a real number on the kid’s skin, and everyone developed a stuffy-head feeling as we entered the city that dissipated as we got about 45 minutes outside of the city on our way home.  I guess there really is something to say about clean country air and water.

Since we’ve been home I have only taken my tinctures in the morning and evening.  I’ve been going to bed by 10pm and waking up feeling a lot less achy.  Today I’m definitely feeling just plain tired, but altogether not “sick”.

I’m looking forward to homemade hot cocoa tonight and planning on a lazy night with a DVD (The Bucket List).  Neeka fell asleep (hopefully for the night) at 7pm.  She’s been fighting a bit of tonsilitis.  Here’s hoping that the baby will follow her by 8:30 and I can get to bed (post movie) by 10pm again.

To our health!

xoxo

Update – Week 1

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It’s been about a week with the aforementioned changes in place and there is a definite improvement.  I’ve been taking St. John’s Wort and Skullcap tinctures every 4-5 hours and it’s been sufficient to keep the pain in check for the past four days.

Friday was a pretty painful day and I wound up taking a dose of Vicodin in the morning while I had the kids at the park, which sucked.  I also had an 8oz decaf Americano on the way.  All in all not the best morning.  I over did it on account of the Vicodin, so that when it wore off a few hours later I felt positively wrecked.  Miserable.  I drank about a quart of water while we were out, but this was definitely not enough to counter the desert sun and wind, the dried fruits and nuts we were snacking on, or the diuretic effect of the coffee.  I had another pint of water in the car on the way home, but this was too little too late and I could feel the burning feeling that I get in my bones, eyes, mouth, nose and ears that comes of not enough water.

Yesterday was similar in the hydration department.  I tend to forget to drink enough early in the day, not noticing until I start to feel those icky signs of dehydration.  Then I have to drink a lot all at once to try to catch up and douse the rising pain.  This kept me up for an extra hour last night so that I could get in that last quart of water.  Which of course led to three trips to the bathroom in the first 90 minutes of sleep.  Again, not the best I could have done, but it was a productive day with very little pain.

Today I woke up completely free of pain after a fairly heavy night of sleep (after the initial interuptions) and feeling well enough to get ready for a trip to town straight out of bed.   I had the energy to oil my skin, braid my hair and dig through the summer clothes for a new T-shirt to wear.

I had dried fruit, nuts and tea for breakfast and followed it up with a quart of water dosed with a chlorophyll supplement called Chloroxygen, 25 drops of St. John’s Wort, and 60 drops of Echinacea.  I also took two capsules of probiotics, and a teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil.

I had a couple of slips with food this week that resulted in feeling icky.  Even though the package says “no ADDED MSG”, the organic Beef broth available here definitely has MSG derivatives in it.  I rarely have access to organic beef stew bones, so when I need beef broth we wind up buying it.  I always regret it though.  It’s not worth it and I will begin substituting veggie broth or chicken broth instead.  I always keep my vegetable scraps in a a bag in the freezer for making a no cost veggie broth and we have a beautifully rich chicken stock everytime we cook with chicken since we always buy it either whole or as bone-in pieces.

For more info on how I keep us (a family of 5)  in a totally organic, whole food diet for $400-$700 per month (depending on what I have to work with) you can check out this post. Or this one.  I’m planning to write a lot more about eating healthy on a serious budget, menu planning, dealing with food limitations, and the like.  Whenever I do, I’ll copy a link to the posts here.

Another slip I had this week was Alden’s Organic Ice Cream.  It has soy lecithin in it, which bothers me at this lowered level of health.  At healthier times when I’ve been living within the rules for months Alden’s Organic Ice Cream is an acceptable treat, but I have to limit to once or twice in a week and not repeat the treat too often in a month.

It seems complicated, but it’s rather like learning the same rules you learned as a child:  We don’t run into the road without looking, we don’t eat too much Halloween candy, ice cream for breakfast is not okay, onions and peanut butter don’t go together, etc.  Once you get it, you get it and it’s a choice whether you adhere or not.

To our health!

xoxo

Aimee

 

 

A Quick Summary

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Aimee by Whitney Martin

Or not so quick as the case may be…

This is a copy of an email that I recently sent out in response to one of the many emails I get about what I do/have done to reverse the Fibromyalgia:
I so know the broken feeling.  I declared myself cured in the summer of 2008 and since then have been pushing the boundaries trying to figure out exactly what I can and cannot do… exactly what equals a life of physical freedom, what I can get away with a little bit, and what adds up to leave me feeling broken and scared.

I’ve recently landed myself at broken and scared and am now going back to what I must finally admit is ultimately necessary… difficult, but worth more than getting away with anything.  I expect (based on three years of trial and error) that it will take me 4-6 weeks to be completely free of pain and fatigue again.  If I had not abused the rules so much it would be less.  If I don’t get really serious about following “the rules” I will continue to suffer to some degree until I do.  It takes about 5 months of sticking completely by the rules before I can have a slip up without suffering immediately.  When I live inside of these restrictions I live a life free of pain, fatigue, depression, stiffness and “brain fog”.  It seems like a no-brainer, but as a mother, a woman of the age and culture, and a lover of food and overdoing it.  I seem to require a painful reminder that it may be a choice, but that my choices can lead to a world of hurt.

Before I go any further, legally, I have to tell you that I’m not a doctor, I have no legal right, certification or degree that allows me to give you medical advice.  😉

I know this:

I cannot tolerate gluten.  Even small amounts seem to get stored and build up until I feel like a painful toxic dump.  I start getting tired.  Then I start feeling a little stiff… followed by mini “flare ups” of pain, general achy-ness and eventually devastating, deep, widespread pain, exhaustion, inability to concentrate, etc. etc.

Other things that go the exact same way are corn, “natural flavors”, any derivatives of MSG
“binders”, preservatives, additives, dyes, sweeteners or anti-caking agents.

I have a low tolerance for potatoes, gluten-free flour products, and any salt that isn’t pure, air dried sea salt – such as Real Salt or Celtic Salt.

One of the things that brings me to my knees quickest is drinking much less than a gallon of water every day.  If I lived in a relatively cool, humid area this would likely be more like 3/4 gallon minimum.

Things that make my life easier and decrease my sensitivity are: quality probiotics like Code Raw Probiotics, Fermented Cod Liver Oil and high-fat organic butter, organic, whole milk yogurt (plain with honey or maple syrup), regular epsom salt baths with exfoliation, followed by oiling my skin (the skin is the largest organ of detoxification for the body), and whenever possible a cup of homemade bone broth.

Sleep is paramount.  I absolutely hate it.  I’m terrible at sticking to it, but I have to go to sleep at the same time every day, get up in the morning and take a nap if it feels necessary.  I know that as a mother you know that this seems impossible.  When I struggle with it the most I have to take steps to help myself.  I got rid of my TV years ago.  I turn the internet off at 8pm and I take a dose of Skullcap (4-8 drops) and Motherwort (10-15 drops) to help me fall asleep (and stay in a good quality sleep) while a guided relaxation plays on the computer next to my bed.  Sometimes the pain can make sleep so difficult.  When it does I add in a super hot bath, 5 extra drops of Skullcap and I replay the relaxation until I either fall asleep or I can listen to the whole thing.  By the time I have achieved either one of them the pain has lessened and I have a chance of waking up without pain.

I drink Nettle and Red Raspberry leaf tea every day, all day.  This helps with the energy and pain.

Herbal tinctures that I depend upon are as follows:

Skullcap (3-5 drops) as often as every 4 hours during the day.  Up to 10 drops when I’m ready to sleep.
St. Johns Wort (25-30 drops) every 4 hours, 4-5 times per day, every day.  No matter what.
If the pain is really bad during the day I will add a dropper full of California Poppy tincture to the 3 drops of Skullcap (and usual dose of St. Johns)  Until I got used to it the combination of California Poppy and Skullcap made e very drowsy.  If it’s at all possible I lay down until I at least feel a little better.

16 years of doctors and prescriptions proved to me that any prescription has the potential to lift some symptoms temporarily, but that they will usually return in a couple of weeks and they will be worse than before the prescription.  Sleeping drugs where particularly detrimental to my well being, and created a truly devastating cycle of pain and exhaustion after a few weeks.  Prescriptions for depression or anxiety wrecked everything, created new symptoms, and always, always led to additional prescriptions.

I make many sacrifices to eat a completely organic, whole food ingredient diet.  It took me years to learn how to manage it with children, fatigue and serious budget constraints, but it is possible and it feels like a key ingredient.  I recently managed to feed said diet to a family of 5 for less than $400 per month, out of uncomfortable necessity.

If I could not eat a totally organic diet I would check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, eliminate any food that comes in a package with an ingredient list, and add in a whole foods based multi-vitamin such as Raw Code, Rainbow Light or New Chapter.

I have found acupuncture (at least once per week for 8 weeks) to be a huge help in getting over the initial hump of pain and fatigue.  There are many places that will work on a sliding scale or that offer “group sessions” at a steep discount.  Some people find relief in massage, but I have found it to be a mine-field of RMTs unqualified to deal with Fibromyalgia.   Cleanses and detoxes always help.

While I would have felt relieved to have received an email outlining all the changes I needed to make I’m sure an email such as this would have left my head spinning and me feeling a bit hopeless and utterly overwhelmed.

I hope that you might accept my deepest wishes that you find the peace and health that every mother needs to care for the most important thing(s) in her world.  If you need anything…  If you have any questions… someone to complain to… a shoulder to cry on… or are needing a gentle reminder… you can always reach me at this address.

I am opening up my online journal of recovery, Healing Rebel.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the energy to put all these ideas together and think about the pain they’re based on if there isn’t someone holding you accountable.  I’m always grateful for the women who email me.  They give me the push or reminder that I need.

Books that have helped me to understand what I’m dealing with:  Gut & Psychology Syndrome, Nourishing Traditions, Cleanse and Purify Thyself, and readings of Dr. Christopher’s Cure for the Incurables.   If you are of Christian faith, the last two will likely resonate with you on that level.  The first two are more scientific and helpful for learning how to live a new way.  Susun Weed, though totally eccentric, has the best grasp on herbs as nourishing tonics; especially for women.  Eckhart Tolle’s discussion of what he calls “the pain body” in The Power of Now has been immensely helpful to me when all else falls short of the pain.

All the best,

Aimee

You Can’t Keep a Good REBEL Down

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I have fallen off the health bandwagon.  The Fibromyalgia is in full bloom again, but it stinks like the blooming of one of those disgusting Corpse Flowers.  I say I fell of the wagon, but truthfully I leaned too damn far off the side trying to pull the temptations onto the wagon with me.

And so, from the hell of Fibro-land… from the pits of near excruciating fatigue, from the depths of ever threatening, often unendurable pain, the confusion of brain-fog and the anxiety and depression that it all brings… I finally give you Healing Rebel.

I’d love for you to join me, but feel free to simply watch as I claw, slide, scrape, curse, cry, drag myself out of this hole (that I knew better than to toy with).

I’m going to kick the painkillers and reclaim the life of strength, comfort, peace, happiness and energy that I learned how to grab years ago.

I’m 31.  17.5 years were stolen by the FibroBeast.  Today is the beginning of the end.

Treat, Manage and Supress are no longer part of my vocabulary.

I am a Rebel.

I am a Healer.

As of today; no. more. wheat.

No more gluten.

No more “natural flavors”, carageenan, binders, emulsifiers, derivatives.

No more bullshit.  No more excuses.

It’s me or them.  Sink or swim. Suck it up.  Buck up.

I’ll write honestly about my failures, my feelings, struggles and successes.

Bring it, Baby.  You can’t keep a good Rebel down.