Happy 2017 to you all – here we go with another blank canvas to build on – SO exciting! Let’s start with my usual ‘state of the nation’ first post of the year..
I’ve been thinking an awful lot recently about where to take Purehealth in the next few years. I’m not quite there yet but, as per, I find if I write something down, it helps me think it through! Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been up to in Purehealth Clinic world so far; it’s really interesting to see how it has evolved actually (to me, anyway) and I am aware we have a lot of new peeps who don’t know me from Adam, so I thought it might help. Many of you have been with me right from the start, which is lovely!
I started my natural medicine career with Holland & Barrett as a Saturday girl in 1988, would you believe, then, branch adviser, branch manager, then in head office troubleshooting for over 400 shops and in charge of customer service and PR/Communications for, eventually, the whole retail group.
After training in massage therapy and nutritional medicine, I spent from 1997 to 2010 seeing patients, writing and teaching on all aspects of natural medicine: physical and biochemical. At that point, cases seemed a lot less complex than they are today and I spent a lot of time on mainly gut health, TATT (tired all the time), blood sugar issues, weight maintenance, detox and what I would call ‘simple’ food intolerance (wheat and dairy mostly).
The vast majority of patients got better on my Gut Plan – the MOT allergen-removal, stomach acid support, gut and liver cleanse I started almost every patient off with and which solved most issues or at least let us see what we were left with. This still works today for a shed-load of people, of course. I dovetailed that with physical medicine as a massage/manipulative therapist and referred people to Philip for clinical hypnotherapy to help change habits, lower anxiety and unpick unhelpful beliefs. It was a system that worked well.
Getting more complex…
From about 2008, I started getting more ‘complex’ cases through the door – what I term the unresolving chronic illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple-sensitivity, chronic pain, hormonal dysfunction – essentially multi-system disorders usually not responding to ‘normal’ mainstream or alternative treatments. That may well have been because I was mentioning them more and just that when you’re experienced, people tend to seek you out.
My sense, though, was there did seem to be a lot more people with more multi-layered issues somehow. Rather than just asking patients to trial off wheat and dairy free, I moved to gluten and dairy free and that seemed to help more people, so I started looking at gluten more in my own case and why it might be causing issues in the complex cases.
From about 2010, I started working on gluten related disorders as a possibility why many of us chronic illness peeps weren’t getting well and why many of us seemed to be so hyper-sensitive. After I’d fallen over with shock at what I discovered, I introduced the premise in early 2011 with my article No Grain, No Pain here, launched this TrulyGlutenFree site to write everything I was learning down and started work on the Barrier Plan to explain how gluten causes barrier breakdown and hyper-permeability and onward to hypersensitivity to food and chemicals, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. I released that for you in early 2012 and it was well-received, thank goodness 🙂
For the rest of that year and 2013, I developed TGF versions of the normal Adrenal and Candida Plans, wrote the TGF Breakfasts book and started work on the TGF Supplements Master List as I realised I was simply ingesting my allergens and sparking inflammatory and autoimmune issues with the very stuff I was using to try and get well! You can see all the TGF ebooks etc here.
In 2014, I decided the time had come to stop doing 1:1 consults and use that saved time to write down everything I’d learned and all this research finally culminated in the new 300-odd page Gluten Plan which included my testing and treatment protocols. Again, this went down really well and continues to do well to this day, helping many people realise the probable reasons for their unrelenting illness and how to test and treat if they have a gluten related disorder and barrier hyper-permeability of the gut and/or brain.
More than TrulyGlutenFree
During that same year, I determined that a proportion of people were truly hypersensitive and even going TGF seemed not to be enough to trigger healing and stop symptoms. This included me! I’d gone so far with it but was still suffering more than I should have been given my really restricted diet. So, thinking I must still be really inflamed, I went AIP (autoimmune protocol diet) although it wasn’t called that then – I sort of did it naturally by removing all inflammatory and allergenic foods. This helped to an extent but I next decided to do an elimination diet to see what was still triggering my mouth pain, migraines and chronic fatigue.
Worst decision I ever made. I did feel better but I then couldn’t get any of the foods back in so was left on about 20 core foods until quite recently! Oops.
Healing: nil by mouth!
The one good thing that came out of this very scary time was that it did start me thinking about non-ingestive healing methods. By that, I mean what could I (we?) do to get ourselves well that didn’t involve ingesting foods, meds or supplements? Frankly, I’d had enough of the ‘cut it out’ approach and had very little left to cut out! I wanted a more positive healing approach rather than more deprivation, if you know what I mean. That was ultimately a very depressing life and it needed to stop, but then so did my symptoms. What more could I do? Even on fewer than 20 foods, my fatigue, mouth pain and migraine hadn’t gone. Improved, but not gone. I started again writing down everything I found useful about non-ingestive healing methods and the Healing Series on the blogs started.
Since then, I have been researching and trialling various ‘healing’ methods and not taken any supplements or meds, or changed my diet, to see if I could get well a different way. This has led to a huge learning curve. I learned about brain neuroplasticity, subconscious behavioural systems, ACE (adverse childhood events) and trauma-triggered illness, central sensitivity syndrome, the amygdala and loads more.
What’s causing a lot of chronic illness?
I have come to the conclusion that many of us with unrelenting chronic illnesses have a too-turned up amygdala or sensitivity mechanism in the brain triggered by epigenetic changes caused by trauma and neglect in both childhood and as adults mostly but not exclusively. Add to that subconscious thought patterns, beliefs and fear feeding on fear creating deep neuroplastic grooves that just get stronger every time you think the same things and you get hyper-sensitised type conditions:
How many of those can you count? I think I have had 10 of them at some point! I first wrote about CSS here. Of course, it’s more complex than that and this won’t explain every case, but for the last year or so, I have been routinely asking people if they had any major stress or trauma in childhood or before the onset of the first symptoms of their current unremitting chronic illness. The numbers are HUGE, trust me. I am now much more surprised when someone says no than when they say yes. We need to wake up to this and start doing something about it.
The good news is that you CAN turn it around but, again trust me, it is not as easy as some people make out! It has taken time and dedication, but I have got much better at last. In the last six months, I have reintroduced a lot of foods and I feel I am somewhat approaching ‘normal’ health for a 50 year old! Sure, I’ve a way to go and have learned this is an evolving ‘journey’, but I am SO not the person I was health-wise even a year ago. How long have I wanted to be able to say that?!
Of course, now my task is to try and assess what I did that worked and put it into some kind of structure you can follow or that will at least help move you forward. Hence, I’ve started writing the Healing Plan, which is no mean feat as much of the work is instinctive and completely non-linear, not lending itself well at all to structure, but I’m having a go because so many of you have asked me to explain it and I can’t fully! Yet.
So, after all that: what now for Purehealth?
Clinic philosophy-wise, this has led me to trying now to develop a new Purehealth model of healing for chronic illness, if you like. There are lots of general models out there and I am now trying to fit what I did to them (proving very hard!) or adapt them and come up with something practical for you. This kind of thing but more specific, structured and practical that I can communicate and deliver in some way to more people – I’ll know it when I’ve done it 😉
To get truly well from a persistent, unresolving chronic illness – of whatever type – we need to work on the brain and subconscious as well as – and sometimes before – we chase down the biochemistry with tests, meds and supplements. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I tend nowadays to ask people to do the healing work first and then see what they are left with that needs fixing biochemically then – ie. the adrenals, thyroid, methylation or whatever.
That’s the stage I am at now. I need to work on the physical body now that my emotional, cognitive and spiritual (for want of a better word) are much stronger. The mistake I think we can make is to start with the physical and I am finding it rarely works in these kind of cases. You can certainly shore up the body and improve symptoms but the biochemical stuff maybe has to come later than we think, and then will we in fact need as much of it by that stage – probably not.
The biggest lesson I have learned – or been reminded of actually – is that if you give your body the healing state it needs, change the way the brain is thinking about illness and remove the subconscious triggers, it has the power to turn itself around without so much biochemical work. This is a tough admit for a biochemist-trained medical nutritionist! But it’s the truth, certainly in many cases I am seeing, especially in hypersensitivity and central sensitivity syndromes like CFS, fibromyalgia, migraine, depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain etc etc.
I am aware this sounds like it is simple: trust me, it is not! But, I have proven it does work so it merits my clinical focus I think now.
How the heck will I have time to do all that?
Business-wise, I managed to run a totally virtual service of test facilitation, analysis, support and resources from behind my screen when I was feeling ill much of the time. I retreated behind my screen because I had to – no-one wants help from a nutritionist who keeps cancelling on you because she herself is too ill!
It was a strategy that worked. In fact, it has worked a bit too well! Frankly, the test service, which I originally set up so that patients didn’t feel I had abandoned them when they needed repeat tests and I’d stopped 1:1 work, is so successful, nowadays it takes all my time.
Once I realised people still needed my help to sort their tests out, of course they also needed interp and protocol advice. I couldn’t do 1:1 work so I set up the A-Z of Health Factsheets on the Purehealth site and wrote Plans for the most common issues I was being asked about – Adrenal, Candida, Gut, Diabetes/Belly Fat/Weight Gain to name a few – and offered test reports. I also set up the Facebook Groups and Pinterest boards to encourage knowledge-sharing and positive peer group support (no whingeing allowed!).
It worked really well and I felt I had stumbled onto a service much earlier than most in my industry about how to support people effectively from afar rather than do a traditional bums on seats clinic. I missed the company obviously but business-wise it worked.
So, that’s how it still works today, more or less. I realised early last year (2016) that the test service and Facebook was essentially taking up most of my time – there is a lot of admin and emails to testing and I am a natural chatterbox on FB, as you know! So, I recruited Victoria to help run the test service and Christine (aka the research rottweiler) to help out on Facebook.
Christine is a whizz on FB and continues to answer the questions and point you to stuff before I’ve even logged on, bless her! The test support service worked beautifully initially, but then, very upsettingly (is that even a word?!) and essentially doubling my workload overnight, I had to end my association with Victoria with immediate effect 6 weeks or so ago, hence me having to work out now what we do next!
OK, so that’s where we are today. I don’t feel much like taking on another nutritionist and I can’t do everything myself – and neither should I be. I have almost 30 years’ experience now in natural medicine and I should be a ‘join the dots’ type of person, working on the chronic illness stuff I have learned about personally and professionally, not ‘farting about with test admin’ as someone so elegantly put it to me the other day 😉
I’m sure you see my point.
New year: new way of working
So, some changes are afoot. Of course there are: it’s a new year and you know what I get like at this time of year by now – all excited at a new blank year to build and create on 🙂
Essentially, this year I plan to start becoming more of the researcher, writer and educator I should be at this stage. Thankfully, I no longer need to be the person hiding behind a screen – or an illness for that matter, yay! The big job is essentially now to combine all the work on TGF and non-ingestive healing into a useable, easy to communicate, deliverable model of healing that works. No mean feat. Why DO I do this to myself??!!
Not sure how it will all work but I will try to do less of the test service admin work somehow, possibly by recruiting an admin person rather than a nutritionist this time and/or producing resources to foster DIY interp as per the Plans and I have a few other ideas up my sleeve for you, of course, which I am working on.
The first job is to finish the Healing Plan I am writing about the ‘journey’ I took and point you to the resources I used and specifically how I used them. I’m almost finished – although I do keep thinking that and then thinking of something else to add! I’m hoping to have done that by the end of Jan (aha: accountability there ;))
After that, I will keep the clinic services running as per and spend more time researching and communicating about chronic illness and developing the model and resources for you eg. on diabetes, thyroid, heart disease etc as well as the syndromes mentioned earlier like FM, CFS, autoimmune diseases and multiple sensitivity. That’s the theory anyway!
A bit more on my own personal healing as I know many of you want to know..
This year, I am focusing on my physical body again whilst continuing the healing stuff. I’ve worked so hard to change my neural pathways and subconscious triggers, my physical body has been left behind somewhere and it needs renourishing, quite literally.
I am now turning back to the biochemistry of nutrient imbalance, methylation issues, hormones, liver – whatever I deem necessary – as well as improving physical fitness, muscular and lymphatic strength. I had to do the healing stuff first and now I can see the wood for the trees, work on what’s left and rebuild like the 6 Million Dollar Man (that takes me back!). I need all my ‘bodies’ in alignment – I’ve been working on the mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, if you like; now it is time to maintain those and bring the physical body up to match.
2017 will be the year the migraine and mouth pain goes for good and I step back out into the world properly as a ‘well’ person. I am determined!
So, exciting times and a lot of personal and clinic work ahead for 2017 then as per! I hope it will ultimately help you as well as me so let’s get to it – any thoughts or ideas, do share – we’re family. x