Iodine Protocol Destroying Candida

It’s now day 16 of my iodine protocol. Those who follow this blog remember when I tried Lufenuron, an antifungal not approved for human use, for advanced candida overgrowth. The first month it worked wonders, the 2nd it had only a partial effect, and by the 3rd dose Lufenuron had no effect at all. Disheartening, yes, but that brief success taught me how many of my symptoms were from fungal overgrowth: intense fatigue, tinnitus, SIBO, anxiety, skin breakouts, sinusitis, and several other seemingly disconnected problems.

Iodine, taken orally, is every bit as effective for me as Lufenuron was, even more so, plus its potency against candida has remained constant. And here’s a milestone: my ulcerative colitis symptoms are completely, utterly gone. Not a trace of inflammation in my colon, not a speck of bleeding, despite sprinting to the loo during a characteristic iodine detox.

Flash back 3 weeks ago, hearing of a friend’s success with an iodine protocol came at the perfect time. The doses involved in this approach were shockingly high to me, compared to the usual orthodoxy. I had heard a bit already about iodine’s impact on chronic infections, and hoped it might halt the steady worsening of candida I experienced when Lufenuron failed. I really felt it tugging me down quickly this time, no matter how many herbals I threw at it.

That’s all changing now, after beginning my own protocol. I started gently, with just one drop of Lugol’s 2% Iodine solution, which is 2.5 mg, or 2,500 mcg (about 1.66X the RDA of 1,500 mcg). Even that relatively small initial dose had a profound effect.

I’ve been carefully ramping the dose in the days since, and am now peaking at 5 drops, or 12.5 mg, averaging around 3 drops, or 7.5 mg. Many suggest this “pulse dosing”, which includes two or three days off, after every 5 days on, so the body can effectively detox. Overall, it’s really working. In fact, I have fewer symptoms of candidiasis now than prior to my last dose of Levaquin antibiotic.

The first major benefit I noticed from iodine was improved sleep patterns, and this has continued to be wonderfully deep and restful, dream-filled sleep. Then there’s relief from my sinusitis, which began to happen in the initial two weeks of oral iodine supplementation. By now I can eat as many potatoes, rice, even sweet potatoes, as I dare, and my sinuses stay clear (historically, carbs have been a trigger). I no longer wake up with brown mucus, that odd “beery” smell of fungal sinusitis, which first started around 1995.

While I usually just take the Lugol’s in water (see below for details) and drink it down, I’ve even been making an iodine nasal spray, too, used every 3 or 4 days, because I want to cure the problem once and for all. I empty out a nasal spray bottle, then add a bit of Lavi Wash to create saline, with 2 drops of Lugol’s 2% Iodine. I mix this with about 8 oz distilled water, add some into the spray bottle, and keep the rest in a glass container with a plastic lid in my refrigerator.

The nasal spray is totally optional, for dealing with fungal sinusitis only. The main protocol is simply taking your iodine in water, according to whatever dose your doctor recommends.

Note: before trying anything iodine-related, it is important to consult with a physician or naturopath familiar with thyroid issues, who can perform adequate testing to establish your baseline function. Make sure you try a tiny amount of iodine on your wrist first, where it can be washed off should you react. Some people experience a rush of energy. Keep in mind even sinus rinses contribute to your total iodine dose, not just oral use. Also be cautious about measures, as people outside the US are often using a far stronger form of Lugol’s (5%). This means drop-for-drop what seems like the same Lugol’s brand can be quite different.

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Okay, let’s rewind a bit — it all started on 11/5/14. After the first dozen days straight, I only took one day off, and I’ve been at it daily ever since. My dosing has varied from 1 drop of Lugol’s 2% solution taken orally (2.5 mg iodine) to 5 drops (which supplies 12.5 mg) depending on my response/detoxing. Unlike pulse dosing, I am in a saw-toothed pattern of nudging it up, dropping it down, then bumping it up again, without many breaks. I just listen to my body as I go, and try not to push too hard.

Since my last blog entry, a fairly intense release of toxins has continued, but it’s now getting much better, with only occasional GI upset, and my last dose of 12.5 mg is only a bit lower than a brief peak of 17.5 mg. That dose felt a tad high, so I backed off. Simple enough.

Iodine detoxing is no fun. At worst, probably 5 trips to the bathroom for me, from morning to noon. I felt fine initially, but by mid-day my muscles were getting a bit stiff from mineral loss. I’ve had low potassium in the past after dehydration, so I took a blend (calcium, magnesium, potassium) called Trisalts (2 one-half teaspoon doses that day) and felt a lot better. I may have been deficient in all three minerals, although I’ve been supplementing a lot of magnesium for companion nutrients (highly essential), along with my selenium complex (200 mcg), a b-complex specific for iodine protocols, and vitamin C.

I also add a bit of trace minerals to my distilled water, and I never, ever drink tap water. Toothpastes with fluoride are equally bad — I really hate the idea of ingesting more fluoride when I’m trying to free up my iodine receptors from — fluoride, chlorine and bromines.

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I have a water distiller in my kitchen, and it’s been running a few days a week for the last 4 years. The only downside is the fan noise, but it has paid for itself. In my area there have been reports of ground water contamination, and I do know a type of fluoride is added to the municipal water supply, in addition to a few new chemicals that are supposed to be “better” than the old decontaminants, like chlorine (another halide that blocks iodine) but who knows?

A detox requires pure water to restore what’s getting flushed out, but decreasing diarrhea after week 3 suggests iodine has already managed to remove a lot of toxins, such as fluoride, bromines, and mercury (I have a lot after eating fish 5 days a week, from my youth into my 30s). What I’ve got now is the healthiest gut I’ve had in a long time, and I’m feeling greater benefits from ferments, like kefir and sauerkraut. In pre-iodine days, I knew kefir was good for me, but it made my SIBO worse, and it seemed no matter how much I drank, candida was always one step ahead.

How could iodine be doing so much to heal chronic candida overgrowth? Iodine on its own has an antifungal quality, which explains why it’s clearing SIBO in the upper gut. If the entire GI tract is being rid of fungal pathogens, it’s easy to see why constipation is totally healed. If byproducts of that fermentation are no longer polluting the bloodstream, autonomic activity should benefit, so peristalsis will become more vigorous, and mental health should improve, too.

But more important appears to be iodine’s affect on thyoid and gut health, its ability to free up those iodine receptors and allow nutrients from oral supplementation and food sources to be better utilized, in key aspects of biochemisty. It’s a powerful immune boost.

While I do still have some fatigue, everything is working better. My mood is upbeat, I have a libido again, and feel a general ambition. My mind is much quicker. I even notice as I’m typing this my eyesight is incredibly sharp (no glasses anymore!) and my fingers are flying along the keyboard.

Since my initial post on this subject, the Iodine for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity group on Facebook is in full swing. We’re learning how sensitive we are to iodine, even the co-supplements. This means the 12.5 mg iodine used in typical protocols is way too high for all of us “floxies”. My suggestion would be to go slowly, even less aggressively than a physician might recommend, if you feel your body is struggling to detox. One group member likened a floxie starting iodine to a very dry sponge being suddenly inundated with water — at first we aren’t able to grab much at all, but over time we can absorb, and really benefit from, therapeutic doses.

Speaking of, how much iodine do you think is “enough”? There are at least two distinct camps, in iodine supplementation circles. Some say micrograms, some say milligrams. Let us know where you stand, in the comments section.

For now I’m favoring the middle way — one foot on the brake, the other on the accelerator — and it’s an interesting ride.

To be continued… 🙂

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Iodine for Cipro and Levaquin Damage

Recently I’ve been reading about how fluoroquinolone antibiotics, like Cipro and Levaquin, poison us with fluoride. One primary avenue for damage centers on impairing thyroid function, because fluoride binds to iodine receptors, and so even when adequate iodine is present in the diet it can create a functional deficiency, leaving the thyroid without enough for good health.  The symptoms of low thyroid are many and varied, and I’ve had most  — ever since being “floxed” with Cipro back in the early 1990s. Things got even worse after Levaquin, just a few years ago.

It turns out not only can aggressive supplementation boost the bioavailable iodine (some doctors urge caution, others say to avoid the practice entirely), but iodine also has the ability to remove fluoride from the body, to free up its receptors from toxins, making them available (in my case, perhaps for the first time in 20 years) for proper thyroid function. It turns out quite a few doctors are on board with this approach, and for now I’m following their lead.

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Here’s the bottom line: could it be possible for iodine to reverse some of the damage done by Cipro and Levaquin? I think it’s very likely.

The thyroid plays a vital role in energy, warmth, and immune function, and iodine is also a powerful antifungal. This is useful for someone like me who has been anxious and sleep deprived, suffering from cold hands and feet, wracked with chills in the winter when outside, often bundled with clothing on warm days, constipated, and… overwhelmed by fungal overgrowth in recent months. Is a picture of low thyroid emerging yet? Indeed.

Lufenuron was a great diagnostic tool for me. The first dose was quite effective, nearly magical, and showed me how much of my ill health, both mental and physical, could be attributed to candida, but subsequent doses were not as effective, so I needed to find an alternative. I also wondered why my immune system couldn’t pick up where the antifungals left off.

Needless to say, after my research into antifungal iodine, which could give me back my energy and immunity, I saw a potential missing link, and really wanted to try it.

For the last 8 days I’ve been doing a protocol, which typically starts at 12.5 mg iodine and slowly titrates up to 50 or even 100 mg. Some people take many months to go this high. If that sounds like a lot, it sure is, compared to what most mainstream doctors believe to be healthy, safe amounts.

Iodine supplementation is a very controversial subject, and since this blog is primarily a diary of my progress I’ll side-step the debate right now. Instead, I’ll reference a few texts for further reading, such as “The Iodine Crisis” by Lynne Farrow, or David Brownstein’s work, plus others in the medical community, like Chris Kresser, who once was enthusiastic about high doses of iodine and has since taken a more conservative stance, and you can try to make up your own minds.

My thyroid tests have been ambiguous. I’m borderline hypo, and can’t rule out Hashimoto’s, despite my antibodies test saying otherwise. I didn’t want to jump directly into taking 12.5 mg of iodine a day, which is the standard low-end of most protocols, and Iodoral, a common pill-form is this exact 12.5 mg  dose, so instead I began with Lugol’s 2%, only one drop per day, which supplies 2.5 mg (2,500 mcg). The only advantage of Iodoral pills is no gastric upset, which is an uncommon side effect of Lugol’s drops, but I figured by the time I was up to 12.5 mg of Lugol’s I’d switch to Iodoral if I felt the need. Onward.

My one drop, 2.5 mg, is about 3X times what most people would get in an iodine-rich Western diet. Some argue the Japanese routinely ingest about 13.5 mg due to higher seafood and seaweed consumption. This is a point of much debate, but relative to 50 mg or 100 mg I felt quite safe taking 1 drop of Lugol’s and this form is far cheaper than Iodoral, too, so the decision was easy.

Any health practitioner would agree, iodine supplementation isn’t to be done casually, and must be part of an exact protocol which includes vital co-supplements, like selenium (200 mcg per day appears to be optimal, but certainly no more than 400 mcg), plus ample amounts of magnesium, B-vitamins (especially B-2 and B-3), plus vitamin C, and fish oil for omega 3s. Zinc and/or copper can also be added, depending on nutritional status.

People are also encouraged to do an iodine loading test to establish how deficient they may be before getting started. This requires a large dose, to determine how much the body retains. I think it’s potentially harmful to people damaged by Cipro and Levaquin. There’s also plenty of controversy about the value of such tests. Some contend there’s no way iodine in urine can accurately show how much someone needs; others swear by it. I urge caution.

My caveat to anyone at this point is understand the disclaimer on my blog, and realize I’m not giving medical advice. I’m only relaying my own self-guided protocol for informational purposes. Please consult your physician before trying any new treatment.

Okay, with that said, let’s get started. 🙂

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I began 8 days ago in the morning with one drop of Lugol’s 2% in about 6 oz of distilled water, with a splash of apple cider vinegar, since combining iodine with a weak acid aids in absorption. With this I took 200 mcg Selenium Complex (this brand claims a blend of 3 forms) , 800 mg magnesium citrate, a B-Complex, some additional B-2 and B-3 as ATP Cofactors, and vitamin C. All are critical, especially selenium, as this can protect the thyroid as iodine doses are increased, and magnesium is critical for detoxing.

How did I do on Day 1 of my iodine protocol? Within the first hour after my first drop of Lugol’s I felt clearer-headed, more upbeat and energetic. My gut began moving in a pleasant way, and by nightfall I was wonderfully sleepy, which is unusual when I have my worst CFS symptoms. Usually I am “wired but tired”.

Around 930pm I went to sleep quickly, slept deeply, remembered a few semi-vivid dreams as I woke, which has always been a sign of good health for me, and realized I was experiencing a powerful libido, for the first time in a few years, out of nowhere. Indeed, fairly surprising!

That entire next Day 2, before and after I took my next one-drop dose (2.5mg or 2,500 mcg) I continued to feel really good. I noticed my sinuses were clearing (no more fungal overgrowth?), my muscles felt limber, and all the usual aches and pains were missing. My prostatitis was gone, I felt light on my feet, and was able to stand for extended periods. I found myself moving around the house straightening up, and cleaning. Similar improvements happened with my initial dose of Lufenuron, then various problems returned as it lost efficacy. Could I finally be getting the upper hand on a systemic fungal infection? All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Here’s something else quite remarkable: by this point it was clear SIBO had also healed. I noticed I could eat larger portions of resistant starch with no upper gut fermentation, and my migrating motor complex was fully active. How could this happen so quickly? Is SIBO an iodine deficiency? In my case, I would say the answer is an emphatic yes, and this make me wonder if antibiotics (prescription or herbal) are even necessary for healing it. Perhaps the MMC just needs to sweep that colonic flora out of the small intestine, and back where it belongs.

Day 3 I boosted my dose by one drop, two drops total, so I was now taking 5 mg iodine, and this is where I began to get detox symptoms, which are quite common and can be uncomfortable. Bromide and fluoride, plus mercury (my levels are very high due to past fish consumption) are all liberated by iodine, and my body began to get overwhelmed. Headache, nausea, a feeling of being in another world, darker thoughts, sneezing, heavy fatigue, diarrhea, and prickly sensations in my limbs were the worst of it. I started salt loading, and within 30 minues I felt much better.

Between Days 4 and 8 I carefully boosted my dose to 12.5 mg, which again is usually the starting dose for most protocols. I’m quite glad I didn’t go to this level immediately, or I may have been horribly ill. I cannot stress enough, if you’re someone like me, with a history of fluoride poisoning from Cipro, Levaquin, or other fluoroquinolone antibiotics, please start any iodine protocol low and slow.

Even with my conservative pacing, and at levels well beneath the 12.5 mg dose, I had moments of confustion, visual disturbances, and cognitive problems. At one point I was unable to find words as I tried chatting with a friend. It took about 20 minutes of salt loading before this subsided.

If the detox sounds horrendous, it was, but the benefits once the storm passed were amazing. Today, Day 8, I discovered strength in my legs I haven’t felt in a few years. Walking is effortless, my sinuses are clear, my mood is balanced, my mind is sharp. My sense of smell has returned, my hair is much softer. My stool volume has increased. No more constipation, and virtually gone also is the tinnitus that has plagued me since Levaquin. It’s barely audible in the mornings, and silent an hour or so after I wake.

The burning hot sensation in my abdomen (likely a vagal nerve issue known as POTS) is gone, and now my belly is cool to the touch. Another sign of POTS healing: my blood pressure is low, I can tolerate any temperature, and I can perspire again, which tells me my parasympathetic nervous system is working.

Speaking of neurological issues, the FDA has started warning the public about the dangers of Cipro and Levaquin, and permanent nerve damage is the primary adverse reaction listed. While he would probably urge a lower dose than I’m taking, people like Jack Kruse see a role for iodine in correcting neuropathy, and I aim to find out if higher therapeutic levels can remove enough fluoride to create a cure.

Another area where iodine may help is with metabolic problems, where some claim it reduces the need for insulin among diabetics, so I’m also looking forward to checking my fasting glucose levels in a few weeks, which began creeping into the low 90s range, after Levaquin.

So far, given all my subjective improvements, I see plenty of reason for optimism. To be continued! 🙂

If you’re on an iodine protocol, or have experienced damage from fluoroquinolones and are considering this type of therapy, please be in touch in the comments section. I’d love to hear from anyone taking 12.5 mg or more, to find out if this dose has helped with fluoride or mercury detoxification.

Also, if anyone would like to join us on Facebook, here’s a new group, entirely focused on the use of iodine for healing Cipro and Levaquin damage. Hope to see you there.

 

If you enjoy this blog, you can support my work by buying things you need via this amazon portal HERE, or by purchasing any product linked in articles. It costs you nothing extra, and helps me continue writing. Thanks!

Lufenuron: Healing POTS, Anxiety & Introversion?

This is a two-part post so far. You can read the first installment here. Today the resolution of profoundly life-limiting symptoms, across a wide range of conditions, has me rethinking what dysbiosis might be. I hadn’t anticipated writing a new blog entry for Lufenuron yet, but some huge changes are happening daily. You can read about the first two weeks here.

Today is Day 15. As the candida is dwindling, symptoms of die-off returned, such as diarrhea. It makes sense, given the mix of Interfase Plus and Candizyme I am taking.

I woke with fairly loud tinnitus, my eyes were crusty with discharge (not my usual), and I just felt toxic. On the plus side, I had been feeling some pain while urinating these last few months but I’m now experiencing no prostatitis. Constipation is also no longer an issue. I’ve been having two bowel movements a day since Day 2 of Lufenuron, and my first today was a Bristol Stool Chart 5.5.

But as the day went on, I gathered steam, felt a bit better and went to a job interview. The drive over was relaxing, and I noticed even though it was hot outside, I had no heat intolerance. Tinnitus had virtually stopped by then, too.

I arrived early and parked, then noticed a bench on the sidewalk and sat down. Soon I was texting a friend, and as we chatted I realized I wasn’t the least bit sound-sensitive, which is unusual for my “post-Levaquin self“. In fact, I felt calm, relaxed, and was enjoying myself. Even a few days ago I would have felt exposed, hyper-aware of the noises around me, and been seeking the quiet of my car, with the windows rolled up. I’ve been suffering from this agoraphobia since i can remember, but I have also had candida since birth, too.

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Once in the lobby of the location where I was interviewing, there I sat on the couch, leafing through magazines. I had a huge epiphany. Reaching out for a photo-book, I was filled with a pleasant curiosity as I made my way through it. This is my old self! I remember family members remarking that my personality had changed, after I got blasted with antibiotics. This felt like that happy-go-lucky, engaging fellow returning.

The interview went really well. I felt relaxed, invested in conversation, transparent, not feeling the need to sell myself, just in the moment. Driving home I was upbeat and carefree. I rolled the windows down, feeling the blast of air on my skin. No sound sensitivity, and the fresh air felt great. I sensed how stale my car was (nose working now!), just because I’ve been leaving windows up constantly to avoid noise. Yes, my whole environment will need to detox with me.

Back at my house, I leaned down to the floor and adjusted a dimmer on a light, but my heart wasn’t pounding, and I didn’t feel like I was going to keel over. CFS has been a problem for the last 5 years, and it’s definitely been improving over the last week or so, but this evening I realized POTS symptoms have been disappearing, too. I really don’t have orthostatic intolerance anymore! And as I walk around the house my whole body feels lighter, stronger.

With improved bowel transport, even SIBO might be healing, and this new found energy puts some validity in that hunch, given how tired I get when upper gut fermentation is a problem. Perhaps candida has an adaptive mechanism, disrupting the migrating motor complex so it can consume more of our food. I’ve noticed GERD is also no longer a problem, which is likely tied to this same issue of decreased gut motility. I have a very happy colon now, and am hoping a lack of fungal overgrowth could heal my ulcerative colitis for good. Fingers crossed.

The wide range of improvements is impressive. I have to wonder, how many of us with POTS or SIBO are really just experiencing the neurological impairment caused by candida flourishing in our bodies, and its endlessly dumping of 79 toxins into our bloodstream? How much of being “floxed” (poisoned by fluoroquinolone antibiotics) relates to fungal overgrowth? And how many of us who became introverted, or prone to anxiety, after this gut flora damage — are we experiencing the same toxicity?

Day 15 of Lufenuron and yes, I feel pretty good.

I should add my point is not to recommend the use of Lufenuron, but rather, I think we need to pay close attention to fungal overgrowth, and relentlessly rid the body of candida however we can. In my case it appears to be making a huge difference.

UPDATE: I tried Lufenuron three times, and while the first dose provided incredible relief, when I took it again one month later it was only half as effective as it had initially been, and by the third dose, another month after that, it barely had an impact on my fungal overgrowth at all. This was despite mixing it with herbals.

Luckily I learned something valuable from the experiment: it seemed my immune system was the problem, so I began looking for something that could boost my body’s innate ability to fight candida. That led me to iodine, and a potential connection between fluorquinolone antibiotics, like Cipro and Levaquin, and hypothyroidism. Here’s the first installment of my iodine protocol. You’ll find the second article here. So far the results have been really encouraging, and unlike Lufenuron, iodine is both inexpensive and subject to much greater testing in humans.

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Chronic Fatigue/POTS/IBD & the Gut-Neck Axis

“I worked with a chiropractor prior to my orthopedic neck surgery. As I described my FM/CFS symptoms, he said, “What did you do to your neck?” I mentioned I’d been in a serious car accident 10 years earlier, sustaining a whiplash injury. He said he had yet to meet a patient with CFS who didn’t have a history of neck trauma. He said there was a theory that any sort of injury to the cervical spinal column either released a component that led to the disease, or allowed one to enter the spinal fluid.”

 

The quote above was lifted from the comments section in a 2007 article on chronic fatigue, which is interesting in its own light, as it discusses a viral hypothesis for CFS/ME. Rather than going into this now, which is plausible to me based on the positive impact of FMT on CFS, considering a healthy microbiota is likely to be inherently anti-viral, I’d rather stick with a discussion of the biomechanical overlap between IBD/CFS-ME/POTS, and then relate that to gut ecology.

I suffer from CFS/ME in addition to ulcerative colitis, asthma, and other inflammatory conditions. I also, as many of you know, have a history of neck trauma, caused in a traffic accident years ago. For me, the neck injury acted as a trigger for most of my health issues, so I have recently suspected vagal nerve damage as a possible root problem. The VN mediates inflammation and immunity in the body, to a large extent, and controls heart rate/BP, hormonal output (adrenals, chief among them), organ function, including gut transport (suggesting constipation, GERD may be related to VN damage), so it’s easy to see where a wide range of symptoms could have this common thread.

I’ve dubbed it the “Gut-Neck Axis” because I’ve found healthy alterations to my gut flora are just as curative (or at the least, beneficial) as achieving proper alignment of my neck! Either will provide relief, whether it’s a glass of home-brewed kefir, a chiropractic adjustment, or a manipulation I can do on my own.

Why would this be? Does an adjustment of my neck release electrical “noise” in my central nervous system, a bottled up energy produced by pathogenic or translocated gut flora (SIBO), or is it simply taking pressure off my vagal nerve, which could allow it to engage more bandwidth in performing its tasks?

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My guess is both are true, because the neck is the physical fuse box between the brain and the enteric nervous system, the “gut brain”.

When hyperadrenergic POTS kicks in for me, my blood pressure and heart rate accelerate, I get obvious tinnitus, a stuffy nose, my gut stops moving, and I get very heat-intolerant. Much to my amazement, in recent days the use of a posture pump will stop all these symptoms, and quickly. Right away, I can feel peristalsis occurring, my nose opens up and I can feel my blood pressure dropping.

If I’m in the car and don’t have access to the device, often times just relaxing my neck, jutting my lower jaw forward a bit, and tilting my head back slightly will do the same. I’ve found it’s important to also try to elongate my neck as much as I can, by using muscles that extend it, whilst I simultaneously try to keep it limber, not stiff. At other times I get relief from just gently pushing in on my lower jaw (while it’s very relaxed), which seems to realign upper cervical vertebrae. There’s a zen to achieving this posture. It has taken practice, but luckily I get instant feedback when I’m doing it right, so I’ve made good progress.

By the way, it should be noted since we’re all different, I’m not recommending anyone try what works for me. This is not medical advice, and anyone reading along should consult their physician before attempting anything described herein.

The third leg of the stool, in this Axis, is active stress reduction. In any situation where I feel a high sympathetic state coming on, calming my mind, paying attention to breathing ( in for a count of 3, out for a count of 4) will act as a brake, and slow things down. For me, CFS/ME feels like a cardiovascular issue. I notice when hyperadrenergic POTS symptoms are flaring, I find it exhausting to stand; with my neck aligned properly I have much more energy.

One theory regarding a trigger for CFS is a vagal nerve infection, and I am not discounting this, but what if it’s also an impinged nerve, a transient impairment, that can be corrected with a spinal adjustment? It’s pretty clear to me my health issues have multiple avenues for healing, and there’s likely to be more than one root cause.

So to my broader point: in an attempt to simply feel as good as possible, I’ll continue to do each and every thing I’ve learned is having a positive impact on symptoms, whether it’s biomechanical or more related to gut flora. Since we know it’s a feedback loop, my theory is a neck injury can create a pro-inflammatory state in the gut that discourages the growth of vital gut flora. Stress can, too. Each of these, in turn, creates an inflamed gut that further discourages a healthy microbiome. It’s a vicious cycle. But by adding in cultured foods, probiotics, FMT, perhaps this reduces the electrical “noise” in the CNS, which makes mechanical manipulations less important.

I do know when I’ve done FMT a few times, it’s as if I’ve been seeing a chiropractor regularly. It’s all about relaxation, tilting over into a more parasympathetic-dominant mode, and a happy neck creates a happy gut, creates a happy brain. Furthermore, getting back to CFS, I notice FMT gives me a lot more energy. I can see where in the study cited above they may have had a much higher response rate with CFS/ME if the participants had simply done FMT for a longer period of time, say 6 to 8 weeks, rather than merely two to three days. I’d love to see another FMT study where participants were also given gentle chiropractic adjustments with an activator tool, massage therapy, and participated in guided meditation.

In the comments section I’d appreciate hearing from you. What are your own coping methods for cooling off the gut brain, staying in a more parasympathetic (restful/restorative/digesting) state? Also, if you have identified a neck-related trigger for IBD or CFS, which biomechanical approaches help the most? Have any of you had cervical spinal (neck) surgery? If so, what results have you had? I figure someone out there with IBD (ulcerative colitis or crohn’s) has had cervical spinal surgery and I’m very curious if this may have alleviated or improved the IBD.

 

If you enjoy this blog, you can support my work by buying things you need via this Amazon portal HERE, or by purchasing any product linked in articles. It costs you nothing extra, and helps me continue writing. Thanks!

 

Healing from POTS

How did I get here? My symptoms of a stuffy nose and breathing trouble began after a motorcycle accident 22 years ago. At the time, I was more concerned about the rest of my body than my neck. It was stiff and sore for a few weeks, but I shook it off, and moved forward in life. About a month after the accident I began getting asthma attacks that would start with a stuffy nose. Tachycardia was also an issue, cropping up when I was exposed to allergens like house dust. Too bad some doctor back then didn’t order imaging studies of my neck. They probably would have seen the loss of normal curvature (lordosis) of my cervical spine, a condition known as “kyphosis”, which can be caused by traumatic injury.

I saw a neurosurgeon last week, and he felt surgery to open up my cervical spinal channel would improve my symptoms. He couldn’t promise anything — a favorable outcome, reduction or elimination of any specific symptoms, and he cautioned I might come out of the surgery feeling worse. “I can’t predict the future”, he said more than once. He suggested gentle, focused chiropractic, and neck traction, as things to try instead of surgery. Overall, his was an honest assessment, and one I could appreciate. But I’m not ready for someone to cut into my neck yet. And this particular surgeon seemed to know nothing about POTS. I described my symptoms and he referred to them as “vague” or “diffused”. To anyone familiar with dysautonomia, I would consider my description as classic, and typical, of autonomic nerve dysfunction, orthostatic intolerance, but these are not common diagnoses, unfortunately.

So I’m trying to tackle my health issues on a limited budget, and get the most impact I can for the effort. Neurofeedback worked well to deal with the background anxiety of illness. All these symptoms take their toll, and I felt these sessions were soothing me, but the effects only lasted a few days, and they were not cheap.

In the last week I’ve seen a new chiropractor who uses the “activator” method. It’s a precision hand tool that delivers a measured, consistent pulse of pressure to the spine, in a focused, gentle way. Most of the time you barely feel the adjustment, but it does work. I’ve noticed the effect bloom over the course of three or 4 days after. And this chiropractor is working in a very methodical way, starting from my hips and low back, paying attention to leg length, and then testing various neurological responses to find subluxations all the way up to my cervical spine. After 3 visits I can say i’m feeling a noticeable improvement, and I plan to continue treatment as long as I can. Thinking back over the development of my health issues, chiropractic has been one of the most helpful, but also has been damaging, when the wrong approach was applied at the wrong time. I want to stick with rehabilitating my cervical spine as much as possible, since it seems to be the source of so many issues.

POTS, be it hyperadrenergic like I seem to have (diagnosis pending), or the more conventional hypotension form, can also have an autoimmune component. The last few blood pressure spikes I’ve had didn’t seem overly related to head position, neck movement, etc. Sometimes my neck and head just starts to get hot, and I can feel my pulse and BP rising, usually after exercise or eating a meal. Both activities can release histamines, which in turn can activate mast cells. MCAD, or mast cell activation disorder, is a theoretical cause of POTS according to some researchers. They’ve found for certain patients an antihistamine will control symptoms just as well as more conventional approaches like beta blockers or blood pressure medications.

Diet is something I’ve been tinkering with for about a decade, and it has consistently yielded good results. Not necessarily linear progress, but the overall trend has been favorable. Two days ago I decided to give up dairy products altogether, and this was after a dairy holiday of two days reduced or eliminated many of my symptoms. Things like tinnitus — now nearly gone after a weekend of being dairy free. The fullness in my ears, congestion in my sinuses and nasal passages, slowly getting better now. My overall mood seems more stable, less anxious, less brain fog and fatigue. This blogger here has a very interesting theory about casein allergy and how improperly digested casein can affect neurotransmitters, even months after stopping dairy consumption. Basically, they are suggesting casein peptides can “lock up” certain receptors in the brain and create a wide range of neurological symptoms, including insomnia.

Sleep, for me, is the final frontier. Just as I thought I was sorting it out, last night I had another episode where I went past the 11pm tipping point, and was soon staring at a clock reading 1:45AM, with pulse pounding. In moments like this, I’ve decided to just take half a Klonopin, which for me is half the lowest .5MG dose, and go to sleep. It works. And sleep is too precious to miss, especially since going without for a night makes the POTS symptoms much worse.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to sleep well without any pharmaceutical aid whatsoever. I’m hoping with diet, chiropractic, and things like consistent exercise and meditation, I can achieve this in the near future.

I always seem to wrap up with a thought about the worms. My helminthic therapy has been paused by the use of Levaquin antibiotic, but the hookworm and whipworm should be back “online”, laying their eggs, in another 6 to 7 weeks (October 15th). I’m hoping by that time I’ll start to experience their longer term benefits, which could include a reduction of most, if not all, allergic symptoms. Can these worms “cure” my POTS? Well, during my bounce back in April, 2011, all my various aches and pains disappeared. I’d settle for feeling a fraction of that relief now, and have high hopes helminthic therapy will compliment all the other measures I’m taking.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis?

We shall see, but (ulcerative colitis and some food allergies aside) I think the true cause of years of my health problems is about to be revealed. I go to my doc  in a few days and will get an MRI done to assess what’s going on with my neck. At this point it appears the most intense “allergic reactions” I thought I was having to the HT were actually nerve pain and respiratory symptoms emanating from my cervical (upper) spine. Wearing a foam neck support for a few days has helped a lot, especially as a diagnostic tool. I was intrigued to read there even seems to be a connection between TMJ and cervical spine injury.

My chiropractor suggested I do some imaging studies, and thought a narrowing of the channel for the spinal cord in the my neck, or “cervical spinal stenosis”, might be the culprit: nerve pain in extremities, and muscle weakness, plus low blood sugar episodes, tinnitus, anxiety, and poor muscle coordination at times. Even my “exercise intolerance” may be related, since the movement of walking, and especially running, aggravates this fragile part of the body. In my case, a few minutes of brisk walking was enough to trigger a very stuffy nose, and an asthma-like attack, which would make my heart race. A cold sweat often followed.

Vitamin C worked as a powerful medicine for this “worm flu” I thought I was having, due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. I can confirm it still works, and for the nerve issues, because when the pain and other symptoms are at their worst, the same moderately high doses of vitamin C (five to ten 1,000 MG tablets) clear it up quickly.

From what I can gather now, the only side effects of mine that appear related to the helminthic therapy is some diarrhea (with attendant dehydration), and fatigue. Neither appears totally resolved yet, at this, day 69, but it’s much improved from a month ago.

If I’m lucky, maybe the HT will help reduce inflammation in my neck on an ongoing basis. During my bounce, in week one post-hookworm and whipworm inoculation, I felt incredibly good, and was quite active. So let’s go, worms. Onward and upward!

The Fog of Worm — Week 7.

As luck would have it, a week ago, that glorious day of my last entry, was the high point thus far. A brief triumph for harmony, between a man and his helminths. All subsequent days have been filled with fatigue, GI discomfort, and various other aches and pains. Throughout it all I’ve been trying (and usually succeeding) to stay in motion, eat decent meals, push fluids and get plenty of rest. Tonight, sleep is elusive, as my stomach hurts too much to drift off.

But when I strip away the discomfort, I can still see glimpses of huge progress. For example, here i am celebrating at least 5 weeks of diarrhea. Why on earth is this a positive? Well, back in the olden days when I was suffering from active UC, just a few days of running to the can would have triggered a bloody mess of inflammation that ultimately would lead to hospitalization. The last time I flared up was a year ago, due to food poisoning in a restaurant. It took 3 days for me to flare, get a systemic infection, and by the time I landed in the ER I had a temperature of 104 and nearly croaked. Thanks for the Levaquin, doc! Now that I’m doing helminthic therapy, I seem capable of withstanding intestinal contortions of Olympic proportions. No bleeding, no inflammation at all. This is most impressive.

And despite fatigue that makes crawling out of bed in the morning pretty tough, I’ve got a surprising amount of endurance on the treadmill, or walking around my neighborhood. In fact, it feels like the more I move around, the more groovy worm secretions are coursing through my system, easing my non-transient aches and pains. For instance, I injured my knee in a motorcycle accident, and this has plagued me for years. During my “bounce” (week 1, post-inoculation) the pain disappeared, and after returning slightly during the peak side effects phase, it’s almost entirely gone again.

Nasal congestion is primarily resolved, too, once I wake up, and my lungs are perfectly clear — no asthma symptoms any more. Amazing, really. And the Happy Helminth mental boost is there, too, despite the daily grind of worm flu — depression and anxiety are now best identified by their absence. In moments, I even feel echoes of last Monday’s giddiness, but for shorter bursts. So I lay here feeling stoic, glad to have my new “old friends”. It’s becoming quite clear this is merely a waiting game now.

Day 30 — The long view.

Today I woke up late, to a ringing telephone — a work call. It turns out I’d overslept by about 4 hours, and missed two alarms. I felt clammy, really tired, a bit disoriented. Thinking back, I knew I had been dreaming quite a bit, which for me is an unusual positive, but these were foggy and forgotten episodes.

Coffee. It was, up until recently, a forbidden substance, a trigger for not only UC but candida, too. It’s now an option for me, after doing the HT inoculation, and even provides a cleaner buzz than in the good old days when I was “healthy” and drank it regularly.

By mid afternoon my energy had picked up a bit, and my head was clearer. I still felt a bit unsteady, with some ringing in my ears and muscle pains, primarily in my neck. But the back-and-forth continues, just as it did a few days ago, where one minute I feel pretty rotten, and another I’m feeling a burst of worm magic.

For example, today I went outside for a while and sat in the sun, and I could smell it all — plants, flowers, grasses. In the past this would have been a toxic soup of allergens, and my nose would have been too stuffy to identify any of it, let alone each scent in the mix.

I’m realizing 55 hookworms is a large dose, and symptoms tend to be worse with a higher count, so this could take a while. I should settle in and prepare for the journey. I also know that along the way I’ll have moments of unexpected good vibes.