When I fell ill, I searched high and low for answers to the puzzle that is autoimmune. I saw doctors, researched, and prayed a lot! My degree is not in science, and I am not a medical doctor, but through much experimentation and study, and with God’s grace and healing power my health was reclaimed! So, take what I’ve learned and glean from my experience as you wish. These are the steps I took to healing, and this is what I found worked to bring me to back. Each one of us are unique and our body’s makeup are all different so there is so much individuality to our paths to healing. I hope my experience can help you on your own journey. (Read my post, “My Long Story, Short” for the back story.)
Things I added
In the beginning, when we didn’t have a clue what was going on with me, my husband asked me to have my Vitamin D levels checked. Thank you, husband. They were indeed very low, so I started taking therapeutic levels (50,000 units a week of Vit D3), endorsed by my family doctor. I found that it if I am very low on my levels, it actually takes a few months to get the numbers up into acceptable levels and even more months to get up nice and high where I want them to be. My internal doc tells me that having my levels at 80 is optimal. When I first checked mine, it was at 18. Acceptable range is 30-100. On reading anecdotes of people who use Vitamin D as their sole solution to their health complaints, I discovered that it took most people about a year to feel fully better from the symptoms that they attributed to a vitamin D deficiency because of how long it takes to get those levels up where they should be. Below is the Vitamin D combo and brand that I trust and like for myself.
Methylated B Vitamins
When I discovered that Vitamin D was doing only so much for me, and ever so slowly, I saw an internal doctor who suggested genetic testing. We only tested for the MTHFR genetic variance, and when my results came back heterozygous on the gene, she put me on a prescription form of high levels of methylated B6, B12, and folate (aka: folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate, by the way). When our genes present themselves in a negative way because of the environment and lifestyle we are immersed in, a person with this particular gene variant can have a difficult time methylating some of those B vitamins we are taking in. We could be getting enough of those vitamins through our diet, but our bodies are too taxed to be able to methylate them properly. So, getting them in their methylated form puts them straight to the task of doing what we need them to do.
This is another therapeutic measure. I take my B vitamins in other ways now that I am well again. But at that time, when I needed to heal and recover and was so far gone, taking this supplement made a world of difference very quickly! I found this version was the same ingredients as the Rx my doc recommended to me. I actually took this vitamin B supplement for years before I figured out I didn’t need this much anymore, even though most doctors who recommend methylated B supplements tell you you’ll have to take them for the rest of your life. For me, I’ve found that it’s best I only take methylated supplements when my body is in distress, because once I healed and learned how to clean up my environment and lifestyle, my genes “behaved themselves” and didn’t need the help. For someone in the throws of complete body shutdown, though, it saved my life. I am so very grateful for my doctor starting me down the path of learning about my genes. I was already inclined to want to find root causes for things instead of band-aid solutions that are so often presented, so her getting me started on the direction of looking at my genetic makeup was a huge step on my journey.
I had studied Jordan Rubin’s The Maker’s Diet years before I started feeling badly. I hadn’t implemented the practice into my life, but I was familiar enough with the concepts in that it stuck with me. It totally made sense, historically and traditionally speaking. For those not familiar with the Maker’s Diet lifestyle, it is basically the same thing as the time-tested concepts found in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. The first healing food I added into my regimen was kefir. The concepts taught in Nourishing Traditions about fermented foods made me believe introducing something like that into my gut would be helpful to my healing process. I found Donna Schwenk ‘s Book, Cultured Food for Life, studied a little more, bought kefir grains to try out, and have never turned back. I agree with Donna when she says that fermented foods saved her family, and I say that kefir saved me. It truly did. I have since learned so much more about the gut health connection to auto-immune issues, and still try to get everyone I know and love to make kefir part of their lives.
Prayer and Gratitude
When my brain fog and muscle fatigue made me feel so helpless and empty, and I didn’t even feel like an actual person anymore, I spent countless hours lying in my bed and I just prayed and prayed. Actually, it was really more like “talking to Jesus.” When everything else was gone- my abilities, my brain, and my busy schedule, it was just me and Jesus all alone for hours, days, weeks, months. I could, and plan to, document so many spiritual lessons learned during that quiet time when I wasn’t much more than an empty vessel. To sum it up though, I learned to be in the moment, embrace where I was, and to experience love and gratitude. To SEE love and gratitude all around me. One particular tool that God used to teach me about His love and about how to be grateful was the book 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book was a game changer for me. If the gratitude movement had already begun, I hadn’t noticed it yet. Ann took me to gratitude, and my heart has never been the same since.
Easy Detox Measures
Back when I wasn’t feeling well, the only way I knew yet how to flush toxins out of my body was by using a dry brush, and by doing detox baths. And those practices served me well. I instinctively felt that if I was putting good and nourishing things into my body, and pushing out the bad and toxic, I would have to become healthier. During a detox bath, I would even try to really relax and focus on that fact that my body was effectively ridding itself of unwanted toxins right then and there. It felt like a relief and a rescue mission. When I was tempted to feel like I was holed up in the bathroom pampering myself with a 20-40 minute detox bath and ignoring my family (mom-guilt), I instead focused on healing in that moment so that I could actually return to being the mother I was meant to be.
Incidentally, I noticed many bonus benefits of the dry brushing. Besides taking soft skin to a level I hadn’t known existed (WOW!!!), after a few months, I began to see a difference in my mucous membranes. Conditions I thought were inevitable with age, like dry eye, became a distant memory. I actually began to feel like I had discovered the fountain of youth. I honestly can’t understand why more people don’t make using a dry brush part of their daily routines. Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but I’m telling you, it is pretty amazing to me.
Things I subtracted
Refined sugars and grains
Like I said, I agreed with the concept of the traditionally proven food preparation practices found in Nourishing Traditions, even though I hadn’t implemented that way of eating and preparing food. But after seeing progress with the other things I was doing, including now making and consuming kefir, I wanted to go to the next level. I was feeling mostly better but still had more brain fog than I wanted to have to put up with. I wanted to feel sharp again, to match the new physical energy I was enjoying having back in my life again. So, I looked into the GAPS diet, and compared it with what I had already learned from Nourishing Traditions. I have never adhered to any one way of eating to perfection, but at least have mostly done it all. For example, there may be some things in the way of food prep I have never even attempted, but in theory understand to be very beneficial. I ended up basically doing “clean eating” and getting the processed foods out of my kitchen and buying quality, clean foods.
The biggest difference for me and my way of eating? I got rid of the processed and refined sugars and sugary products. One hundred percent. No “treats” now and then. No “balance.” I got clean. I had loved sugar and chocolate – not the good kind. I had been the master of meal substitution using M&M’s and Hershey’s kisses. So, I had to get it out of my life. Consuming kefir helped with that. For some magical, kefir reason, sugar cravings fell off after just a couple days. It wasn’t too bad at all. And if you haven’t already felt the benefits of being clean from refined sugars, you should try it even as an experiment. It takes into so much more of a quality life. I would say, you will actually feel fully alive.
I also stopped eating all and any grains that weren’t properly prepared by Nourishing Traditions standards, which means they are soaked or sprouted before they are baked/cooked. So, no more bread, pasta, oats, and other grains for me! My theory wasn’t so much to go gluten free, as I believed the soaking and sprouting of the grains would resolve any issues the wheat flour would theoretically pose. Soaking and/or sprouting removes the offending outer layer of the grains that cause inflammation and aggravation to our systems. Or it at least removes enough of it to make a difference for me and so many others. I found sprouted grain Ezekiel bread to be a life saver. It was readily available at the health food stores in our area. Our whole family transitioned away from the breads they had been used to, and grew to love and crave the satisfying sprouted bread.
Now, here’s where you might feel a little pranked. I didn’t actually go dairy-free like you might think. Instead of eliminating dairy, much like the gluten, I didn’t just do away with it completely. Instead, I found the answer to be in the preparation of the food, instead of the food itself. Like soaking and sprouting the grains did for the bread, I found my gut didn’t have issues with dairy products if they were quality and clean raw dairy, sourced from local farmers. Or raw goat’s milk dairy from the health food store. It was great to be able to continue enjoying milk and cheese without having the negative effects on the gut, resulting in inflammation and disruption on the system.
Some more recent additions
I’m not sure what took me so long to figure out to make sure I get enough Omegas into my diet, but it’s a basic and shouldn’t be left out of a suggested regimen. This is the omega supplement I take now. I like that it doesn’t make me burp or create any funny taste. Any time we’re talking about inflammation and irritations in the body, this type of supplement should not be ignored.
Bullet Proof Coffee
I take Brain Octane Oil every morning in my coffee. It is MCT oil, derived from coconut oil. I’ll take the extra help in mental energy any day! I make my own, tweeked version of Bullet Proof Coffee every morning I will get a post up soon with my recipe, but Dave Asprey offers great products and great information on the benefits of a Bullet Proof lifestyle. I don’t adhere to his regimen, nor do I agree with all of his practices, but I see great benefit in much of it, including drinking BP coffee. It is a part of my daily regimen I greatly enjoy! Yum!
Healing is Possible
We are all so unique, and I hope as you find your own journey to health, you are able to find your way, step by step, as I did. Please be encouraged… when there seem to be no good answers, there is great potential in being able to discover deep healing from your Maker and the answers that lie within your own body if you listen carefully.
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