At the start of January, you will recall I wrote a long post about our new non-ingestive healing focus in TGF World. It’s now almost the end of March so time to update you, I think.
As it happens, as I was writing, this turned into a huge, long post – always so much to say, so I will do it as a series for you to follow it easily. I hope you don’t mind the personal nature of these progress updates, by the way; many of you have said you find hearing what someone else is going through and my musings about why some of the most useful posts to read, so I bear my soul just for you in case it resonates with anyone out there 🙂 Besides, I am writing this series for myself as much as for you, to remind myself of what I have been up to since the start of the year, and to write down the practical plan I’ve devised for the next 3 months.
For Part 1, read the New Focus post.
So, what happened next…?
If you remember, I was suffering from severe mouth problems and had decided, in the absence of any natural treatment touching it, to have some dental tests done and take several recommended courses of antibiotics to shift the ‘infection’. I did that and it did bugger all to help. In fact, I felt much worse, lost a load more foods on the run up to Christmas and felt very sorry for myself.
At that stage, I started some neuroplasticity brain retraining work, grinning at myself, thinking the pain down etc in a bid to change my attitude to one of acceptance and quit the constant fear and worrying over what was coming next. I actually had a fab Christmas, re-introduced the foods, tried my best to ignore the resulting issues and felt like I was at least feeling less of a victim with it if this really was going to be my life’s lot.
Unfortunately, even though I felt much happier within myself, my body had other ideas.
Essentially, the pathology process continued despite my best efforts and culminated in two episodes of excruciating mouth pain where I begged the doctor and A&E for morphine. Frankly, it scared me. And it certainly scared P. Suffice to say, I took every painkiller known to man and nothing touched it until one completely knocked me out for 3 days. The only time I woke up was to be sick again. Not nice, I can tell you! And, sadly, I know some of you recognise this mouth issue. I have counted 7 of us so far who suffer: this cannot be coincidence, can it?
Anyway, my instinct that this was food-related kicked in again and I immediately removed the foods I had reintroduced and tried to ignore. A lesson learned, I can tell you. No matter how positive you feel, if the body don’t like it, the body don’t like it!
(For those of you shouting mercury and infection at your screen, and I know you are!, I am not saying these are not involved. Far from it. BUT, I felt that symptomatically the underlying key is food, lowering my immune strength and allowing the mercury and infection a look in. Lots of people have those. Why is it that some can cope better than others? There has to be something underlying them. Anyway, that was how I felt. Instinct, as I said. In fact, I had gone down the infection route for almost 2 years and got nowhere. I also know a couple of you have dealt with the mercury and still suffer.)
The Switch To AutoImmune Therapy
So, I had to face it. My diet was going to have to become even more restricted. More than that, I needed to know once and for all what diet I personally needed. What was my body going to do best on? Was food at the heart of the issue or not? I felt at least if I knew that, I would be able to regain some control over my body and be less fearful of it, if you know what I mean.
I researched the AIP diet. This is the AutoImmune Protocol which is step after the Barrier Diet in that it also removes eggs, nuts and seeds. Note: this will be in the new Gluten Plan, don’t worry, as will all the options from trad GF right up to my own diet which I have dubbed ‘AIP Purity’ just to amuse myself! Eggs, nuts and meat had been the foods I most recently lost after the antibiotics, so this made sense to me. But meat too, which is actually allowed on the AIP protocols?!
Cutting a long story short, I went AIP with no meat for 4 weeks to see what would happen. Miraculously, within 3 weeks my mouth was fine. I ate crunchy things and everything :). However, I was still getting other issues, not least migraines and skin issues so I knew I hadn’t quite nailed it yet.
A note on skin issues, by the way, whilst I’m on that. Here’s my theory. Even though the migraines are far worse and I have focussed on those out of debilitating necessity (there is a reason why the WHO – not the band – have classified migraine as one of the top 10 disabling illnesses!), the skin issues including what happens to my gums is, I think now, far more telling. I am more and more convinced that when I see a reaction on my skin, which is usually blistering/infectiony type mini bumps painfully popping up in various places, chronic itching and eczema like lesions and now the same thing is what I think is happening with my gums – it is skin, after all – that is a reflection of what is going on with my inner skin too. It’s just easier to see on the outside, isn’t it?
We know that all barriers are pretty much structurally the same eg gut, lungs, bladder, blood-brain, mouth, nose etc, and we know that gum mucosal tissue is a target gluten area, so it stands to reason that it is simply reflecting what happens to my barriers with certain food reactions. If it’s on the outside, it’s probably on the insde, if you see what I mean. The barriers clearly having an issue in my body are the gut, skin (inner and outer) and blood-brain (migraine, cognitive loss). SO, I suspect that the skin issues are the most important to keep an eye on as a reflection of pathology and healing. If I see the outer skin improve, I like to think that my internal barriers are improving too.
My conclusion, then, is that there is some process going on triggered by food and involving bacterial infection and that is probably autoimmune in nature. Hence the reason I started looking into diets for autoimmune conditions.
The Elimination & Challenge Process
I went back to my training and remembered very early on we used to use a so-called ‘few foods elimination diet’ for severe multiple intolerants. I had become one, so decided that was the best approach. Happily, friend Michelle at FM had an old copy of a book I needed and she sent it me. I studied that, my old training and clinic notes plus other books to work out the right approach, which I customised to how I felt it should be done. Of course, the new Elimination & Challenge Factsheet was the result.
I took my own advice, chose about 20 ‘safe’ foods and did the elimination process very carefully. Nothing, NOTHING went into or onto my body except those foods. I felt crap until Day 10 when it was like a huge weight lifting off me. I felt really well. Better than I had in a long time. Just not so reactive. There are, in fact, a couple of things in that safe list still causing jip, but I can come back to those later. They weren’t bad enough to knock out and confuse the initial process.
In fact, I felt so good, I continued the elimination for another week or so. Then I started to worry about my nutrient levels, of course, especially since I can’t tolerate any supplements like most of you can. I gingerly started the challenge process, expecting not to feel as well, of course, for obvious reasons. I started with a glass of wine as a treat. Of course. Bad move. Next I tried a weak coffee. I don’t know why but I felt left out of life not being able to share a hot drink or a glass of wine with people so the drinks were the first trials. Nope, that one no good either.
I didn’t dare try eggs or meat, the two things I was most suspicious of for the mouth pain. I decided the safest bet was to only reintroduce things that would comply with the AIP diet. Some went in OK: dandelion coffee, plantains and raw prawns. Some didn’t: cooked prawns, maple syrup, watermelon, arrowroot, red grapes (the wine issue, please let it not be alcohol??). The no’s brought on migraines and the process cumulatively caused blistering in my mouth and legs again.
Suffice to say, I am having to take this slowly. I did realise along the way that I am far more reactive to anything touched by Man if you know what I mean. The watermelon I had was cling filmed. I know, I know, I was stoopid. The maple syrup, supposedly raw, was in a bottle. The cooked prawns were, well, cooked, yet I was fine with raw ones. Seabass fillets in a packet: nope. Seabass whole and washed: fine. Mango ready cut up in a packet, no other ingredients: problematic. Whole mango cut up and sliding around my chopping board: fine. Scallops from the fishmonger on a cardboard tray or raw scallops: no. Frozen scallops: OK. Crabmeat from the fishmonger: no. Crab claws from the market: yep.
A theme was developing.
A Pure Diet
I was far better with whole foods as unprocessed as possible. Not rocket science is it really, but you would be surprised how hard that actually is. In essence, my diet has been whole, wild fish and some, mostly frozen, seafood, fruit and veg with water and an occasional dandelion coffee to drink. Not much is it? I felt sorry for myself, but then was reading about a tribe somewhere that eats like that all the time and are one of the healthiest known peoples in the world. If they could do it, so could I, although gotta say the wine and coffee are killers still.
So, now you can see why I have termed it AIP Purity. It’s AIP with no meat and completely unprocessed. Pure. Also, part of my positivity training has been to be thankful that I can eat good foods and to embrace how pure it is. Plus, of course, fits in with the Purehealth name, bonus. I am hoping to get some meat back in; that’s not the purity bit, as long as it is 100% grass fed and as unprocessed as possible.
The problem with most foods, I think, is coming down to it or the area it is prepared in being sprayed with something like citric acid or some other detergent/pesticide/anti-bacterial like substance equally likely to be made from corn. Even organic foods tend to be sprayed with something, usually garlic based, and I am sensitive to garlic too. Or, it’s the packaging – much of the cardboard/starch trays are made using corn. I’ve been caught out a few times buying fresh food only to have it put onto/into/or sent using corn-based packaging which seems to be enough, despite washing the food, to set me off. The little ‘fluid-catcher’ mats under berries are sprayed with citric acid. Corn-derived Vitamin C is added to stuff and doesn’t have to be labelled below a certain amount. Even buying fish at the fishmonger’s got me once because the prep area was sprayed with something (I went in and asked later.)
Ironically, I seem safer with less clean environments eg fish frozen on the boat when caught! This corn thing is truly a nightmare, and I know a lot of you agree. It is ubiquitous and many people seem to become hyper-sensitive to it. Is it the GMO? Goodness knows but something is going on with it.
Anyway, back to how I did…
My mouth did come up again nastily, as I said. I stopped the challenge process for 2 weeks to let it calm down. Which it did again in exactly 10 days. In fact, this 10 day healing cycle has happened 3 times now. Food is indeed involved so that is that question answered. In those last 2 weeks, I felt really well again. The next phase, I have decided, is to challenge some useful foods like the 100% grass fed beef I was having, egg yolks and whites, olives (as I miss having something other than fruit to snack on), some cider vinegar if the eggs are OK so I can make mayo, some Medjool dates for when my blood sugar is on the floor and I need a fast pick me up and some probiotics. I was on the Infantis but the antibiotics put paid to that and I couldn’t get them in afterwards.
Non-Ingestive Methods Research
As if going through all that wasn’t enough, throughout that time, I have been reading pretty much everything I can get my hands on about healing methods and doing some of it. I decided that I would be ‘open’ to whatever the universe threw at me and trust it would be right to follow it up. You can’t follow up everything, can you?!
And, actually, that’s worked out quite well. I have tried to focus on well-researched methods known to help balance immunity. That’s because the core of a hypersensitivity problem, quite apart from the barrier breakdown, is an over-reactive or certainly imbalanced immune reaction. If stuff is still making the enterocytes of the gut mucosal barrier react leading to hyperpermeability and then the immune system can’t tell what is an enemy or not when it gets through the tight junctions and liver, then we are buggered, really.
I can’t take the probiotics, fermented foods, anti-inflammatories etc that most can, so my focus was to look for non-ingestive methods to achieve the same aim, or at least get a hold on it.
I’m not, at this stage, going to bore you senseless (if I haven’t already) and go over the research. You’ll just have to trust me that, in immunity rebalancing terms, it stacks up. I’ll just tell you what the plan is.
….In another post as this is plenty long enough already! The next post will be a bit about how our reptilian ‘old’ brain has got the ‘On’ switch stuck on somehow and we need to turn it off. Ooh…
Hope you found that Part 2 useful. I know some of you are going through similar processes. I’m just sharing mine in the hope it sparks something that will help you too. Don’t forget to chat on the TGF Facebook Group if you need support and advice. See you In Part 3…