Heal Insomnia with Orange Lighting

Many of us who have damaged gut flora from antibiotics suffer from insomnia. I’ve had better sleep quality, where I became drowsy at appropriate times and had deep and restful sleep, after doing an antifungal protocol. Eating a lower carb diet, with plenty of cultured vegetables and homemade kefir, is also a big help. I’ve noticed both helminthic therapy, and FMT improved my sleep immediately. Indeed, adverse reactions to antibiotics can be so severe, we will take drastic measures to recapture elusive sleep.

However this article is about a very simple and effective protocol for healing insomnia, via a fascinating mechanism: manipulating the color temperature of all light seen after sundown into the orange/red spectrum. It turns out blue light, which we modern humans bathe ourselves in after dark, via computer and television screens, artificial lighting, and even traffic lights, stops production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

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This may be one reason shift workers have a higher incidence of heart disease, depression, diabetes and other health problems. There’s also evidence of reduced melatonin contributing to cancer.

I tried using orange goggles after dark, and the effect was virtually immediate. Eventually, I realized it was easier to download an app for my laptop called f.lux, which warms up the color temperature of the monitor during evening hours, and I added orange compact fluorescent bulbs to my bedroom. I’ve noticed now that even if my gut health is not optimal, I still have much better sleep quality than I did before implementing these measures.

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Himalayan Salt Lamps are another interesting approach because in addition to an orange glow, they are purported to emit negative ions, and act as air purifiers. I haven’t tried one yet, but some users report relief from allergies and a pleasant smell when lit. Clearly, folks are enthusiastic about their salt lamps, as this one has a 5-star rating and nearly 2,500 reviews.

himalayan_salt_lamp.

I’m also experimenting lately with turning off my wifi at night. Some people go so far as to disable the main breakers to their house (tough to do with a refrigerator) and swear this makes an even bigger difference. For anyone who has been in the wilderness, and slept out under the stars, away from artificial light, you probably noticed your body responding favorably. Since many of us can’t take this step, perhaps the changes outlined above will be the next best thing.

What strategies are you using to unplug from technology, and how has it impacted your own sleep patterns or general healing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. 🙂

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GHN – Changing Things Up a Bit! :-)

Hello, everyone! Going forward, I’m planning to shift the format here at GHN to include shorter posts with links to breaking news related to the microbiome, and strategies for improving GI health. These will include related studies, whenever possible, and interconnected ideas from all the”self-experimenters” in our (rapidly expanding!) networks.

I realize many use this blog as a resource for troubleshooting your own health issues, and I want all of us to be able to A) cover a lot of ground, and B) reach our own conclusions.

I’ll continue to post articles about my own adventures with helminthic therapy (specifically necator americanus hookworm) cultured foods, various antimicrobials, and FMT, as events unfold and updates are warranted.

I am appreciating all your feedback, and wish WordPress was designed as a more interactive format. Comments tend to get buried in these blogs, visually, and that limits discussion, but please DO keep up your replies so we can all continue to learn from each other. 🙂

Hookworm for Healing Prostatitis?

So seven weeks ago I did a 50 hookworm top-off dose, and I’m absolutely 100% allergy free right now: no asthma, no sneezing, and I’m also experiencing the characteristic lack of aches and pains I tend to enjoy when my hookworm are active and providing their benefits. This is now my third year of helminthic therapy, so my body is quite accustomed to it.

Side effects? Hardly any. A few weeks ago i had slightly increased mucus production in my nasal passages and sinuses, which is actually a sign of health for me, as this all disappeared when I got “floxed” with Levaquin antibiotics a few years ago. At that point my immune system was stunned. My nose always felt irritated, with a “tight” and “dry” sensation. Happily, I now have a very normal, unremarkable nose, and this means no more sinus headaches, either!

As far as gut function, I have a history of ulcerative colitis, and other than a brief flare that came on before my last dose of hookworm, I’ve been in total remission, for months. I was able to get rid of the flare using sodium butyrate enemas, and now it seems like my worms have it all under control.

Now, for something very interesting, indeed. In years past I’ve always noticed prostatitis is a problem for me as seasons change, particularly from Summer into Fall. Not so, this year, and perhaps this is also due to my hookworm! Why? My theory is prostatitis can be the result of seasonal allergies. In quite a few forums around the web I’ve noticed men wondering about a connection, and my experience could help to confirm it. I do hope in time hookworm will be put to use for this “off-label” condition, as I find it to be more beneficial than any other therapy I’ve tried!

It’s easiest for me to look at the prostatitis/allergy connection in terms of an inflammatory threshold. In past years, even when I was much younger, anything could be a potential trigger — too much coffee, alcohol, or spicy food, too much sitting, not enough exercise, infrequent sexual activity, general stress. Now, none of this matters. I just feel good.

I should add, I also include plenty of cultured foods in my diet, such as delicious homemade kefir, yogurt, raw sauerkraut, and probiotics in pill form. I am convinced this, too, helps prostatitis by improving the ecology of the colon. Considering the proximity of the colon to the bladder, and other male anatomy, it’s easy to see how a fungal overgrowth in the gut can lead to candida migrating into prostate tissues. Furthermore, it’s thought many of us are allergic to fungal pathogens, so once they invade tissues the immune system makes matters worse by mounting an ineffective inflammatory response.

Again, if hookworm tame the immune system, and a low-grade fungal infection is the trigger, it’s clear to me how helminthic therapy might play a role in easing prostatitis. I’ll have more to say about the impact of adding probiotic foods to my diet, and its effect on general inflammation, in a future post.

I’d appreciate hearing from you all in the comments section — of those doing helminthic therapy, is it helping to curb autoimmune response? And how many of you men out there have noticed if it helps with prostatitis? We self-experimenters are learning a lot about controlling inflammation, so much so that my doctors are really interested in updates — much of it gathered from you. Hopefully in time our knowledge can have an impact on mainstream medicine. Meanwhile, let’s keep up the good work!

Hookworm working, feeling great!

Today I’m 10 1/2 weeks into a 75 hookworm dose. As far as I know, I had no worms remaining when I did that top off, because stool tests for ova were negative at the time, but I have had blood work done recently suggesting the new dose is alive and well. My EOS level is quite high, which is consistent with a parasitic infection.

I should add that for nearly everyone providers won’t allow a dose of 75 at once, but in my case I’ve demonstrated a very high tolerance, and have some health issues that make hosting for longer periods difficult, so my provider was willing to make a rare exception.

How am I feeling? Fantastic. Today Spring has sprung, the air is so loaded with pollen you can see it blowing in the wind. This year I can smell all sorts of flowers and other plants in the breeze, which is a nice change of pace. In previous allergy seasons when I was not hosting hookworm I was stuck inside, huddled in a dark room next to an air purifier, and shoveling down vitamin C, the only antihistamine I could tolerate. So the scent of Spring is a wonderful, new thing.

It’s a joy to have no asthma, no sinus trouble, and my mood is also really balanced. I have more energy, no more insomnia, my skin is clearing up (less rosacea), constipation (one of many side effects of levaquin) is gone, and I’m starting to gain some healthy weight: 6 ft tall, and 160 lbs. After being underweight for the last 10 years, this is a major milestone. I now weigh what I did before I got sick with ulcerative colitis. On the IBD front, I have not had a flare in a year or more, and the last one was brief, and quite mild.

Besides the hookworm protocol, I am drinking home-brewed kefir daily, and eating raw, organic sauerkraut a few days a week. I have adopted a lower-fat “mediterranean paleo” diet, designed to keep my lipid profile optimized. This seems to be encouraging good gut flora diversity, too.

Apologies for not updating this blog sooner. I’ve been busy working, holding down more than one job, and at times working 12 days straight. Anyone who has followed my blog from the start knows how incredible this is. I feel “normal” again, but in some ways I feel better than I have in about 15 years. Seriously!

Healthier, Day by Day

I’m not healed yet, but I’m on the upswing. With cervical spinal stenosis, neck trauma, plus an ulcerative colitis flare up due to antibiotic use, I’ve felt awful since June, but am really pleased with recent progress. Three weeks ago I did a 1500-egg Trichuris Trichiura whipworm top-off dose. It’s a larger number than most experts would recommend (I would have taken 1000 if it were possible to split the contents of the vial), but everyone reacts individually to helminthic therapy, and I have had only mild side effects in the past.

This time around, vague abdominal discomfort and mild diarrhea were the worst of it. I only took 5 to 10 mg of hydrocortisone for the first 5 days, as a precaution, which is basically a physiological dose, about half what my body would produce in a day. After that, I took Zyrtec at night, on and off for about a week, and only when necessary. The goal here is to be drug-free! I’ve also supplemented with 3 mg of melatonin, which has helped me sleep.

Since I’ve got stenosis and degenerative changes to my neck, which has probably affected my autonomic nerve, it’s hard to know if the insomnia is related to whipworm or caused by purely biomechanical, neurological issues. My hunch is whipworm have increased my eosinophils a bit and caused a temporary nervous tension (different from anxiety, it’s more physical) during the day, resulting in sleep disturbances at night. Note the following document here. However, keep in mind the insomnia started, and was at its worst, when my neck was injured back in June.

Here’s the good news: starting two days ago, my dysautonomia seems to have improved. My mood is better, I didn’take any Klonopin yesterday (medication prescribed for transient hypertension after the spinal injury), and I woke up feeling more rested. What caused the change? I’m saturating with VSL#3 probiotics, am eating a very low carb, sugar and grain-free diet, having twice-weekly chiropractic adjustments, using cervical traction devices to undo kyphois, and… getting regular exercise. Yes, exercise! My orthostatic intolerance has improved dramatically, to the point where I can now stand for an hour or more, and ride an upright exercise bike for 40 mins at a time. It was merely two months ago I was bed-bound, hardly able to walk or stand, and unable to ride the bike for even 5 or 10 minutes, so the progress is nothing short of incredible.

Two days ago I was having another blood pressure spike, an ongoing, daily issue for me related to high catecholamine levels. I may have hyperadrenergic POTS , but require further testing for diagnosis. Anyway, these attacks usually last for a few hours, but this episode eased up after only 30 minutes. Then suddenly I felt a familiar, deep sense of calm, much like my initial HT “bounce” back in early May, 2011, for a blissful 15 minutes. Is this the “worm magic” returning? Relaxation this deep is unique to my helminthic therapy, it’s ground-breaking and wonderful, and one reason I have come to believe in the “old friends” and hygiene hypotheses.

Thinking back, I’ve probably had low-level POTS for years, and at the time I thought it was just allergies. Cervical stenosis, likely to be congenital in my case, and neck trauma from computer use, may have contributed. But there’s also a potential mast cell component to POTS. By addressing the autoimmune aspects with helminthic therapy, I hope to conquer the allergic/immunity side, while addressing the degenerative, outward changes with neck traction, stretching, and gentle chiropractic adjustments.

All I care about is getting better, and without resorting to pharmaceuticals like Klonopin, when I can use a holistic approach instead. Positive trends gather their own momentum: laughter, love, community, happiness and connectedness — it’s all obviously part of health. My goal is to heal my body enough that I don’t even need to think about it anymore, and I can focus instead on enjoying life. Simple enough!

More Whipworm for Ulcerative Colitis Flare

My gut has been doing incredibly well ever since starting helminthic therapy back in late April, 2011. On August 8th I had to take Levaquin antibiotics for 7 days, and this “stunned” my worms enough that they no longer were providing anti-inflammatory benefits. Three days ago I noticed the first hint of an ulcerative colitis flare: a little mucous, some heat in my left abdomen around the descending colon. Sure enough, a day later I had a slight bit of blood on the TP. Those who suffer from UC know all about this. It’s when you start trying to decide how best to get rid of the inflammation.

In my case, I’ve had good luck with dietary changes, but only for maintenance. The “big gun” of a decadron IV in the hospital works, as does Imuran, but each of these meds have horrid side effects. And with “dysautonomia” now affecting me, who knows how I would react, even if taking a small dose of prednisone.

So I started thinking about that 1500 whipworm top off dose in my fridge. Trichiura Trichuris to my rescue? I downed all 1500 in one gulp. If my immune system needs a “suitable target” for a distraction, I’ve certainly given it that. Speaking of, over the last 10 years, the luckiest I ever got was catching a cold of some sort while I was flaring. It was enough to take the immune attack off my gut, and focus it on the “bug” instead. Here it is almost week 20 after my first inoculation, and I’m aiming for a similar response with this 2nd dose of helminthic therapy.

In an ideal world I would have had a spare vial of Necator Americanus hookworm, and inoculated with those instead. I think my body tends to get along with them a bit better than the TT whipworm, but I have no solid proof of that, only a hunch. Anyway, so it goes — we work with what we’ve got. Now I’m pondering the coming wave of side effects. Since my body already knows these critters, having taken 500 of them in late April, I don’t anticipate the same intense reaction, but time will tell.

I’m hoping this latest batch of “old friends” keeps me healthy until the initial round (55 hookworm and 500 whipworm) perk up from the antibiotics. It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks, so they should all be “online” and laying their eggs again by October 15th. Meanwhile, goooo, worms. 🙂

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.

Hyperadrenergic Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

What a mouthful. I’ll say it again: Hyperadrenergic POTS. According to one cardiologist I spoke with recently, who sees a lot of similar cases, this is what I may have. Some blood work was done 3 days ago and I am heading off to see another cardiologist as soon as my health plan authorizes it. This feels like progress. My primary goal now is to control the blood pressure spikes, which tend to happen most often when I am under physical or emotional stress.

I sense I’ve had “hyper POTS” most of my life, and it has flared up at various times, usually after an emotional shock, like the death of a parent, friend, etc. This last time, 7 weeks ago, it appeared to get worse after the neck injury and subsequent chiropractic adjustment that made it hard for me to walk, type, etc. Now the neuropathy in my extremities has resolved, for the most part, but one neurologist I’m seeing thinks my autonomic nerve is still “bruised” by that trauma.

Yesterday, I did my first session (19 more to go, over the next 10 weeks) with the LENS neurofeedback system. It didn’t cure me overnight, but I do feel remarkably better. My mind has been clearer, brighter, with an increase in short term memory and a more upbeat mood. I’m looking forward to how this progresses. Even if all it does is reduce my symptoms and allow me to go back to a normal, slightly “potsy” life, that would be wonderful.

How does this all relate to the helminthic therapy? In my opinion, the HT was making it all a lot better. Between weeks 7 and 9 I felt great. Better than I had in years — calm, relaxed, focused… healthy. What appears to have upset the apple cart was the biomechanical failure of my neck. Oops!

Some research indicates POTS may be triggered by these types of events, but have an autoimmune component too, much like MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. I’m holding out hope once my hookworms and whipworms are ready to give me longer term benefits, the POTS will improve due to the “worm magic”. Meanwhile, my gut is doing really well. Despite being on Levaquin for a puncture wound in my finger (1 week ago, and 3 days left of the antibiotics), so I would say this bodes very well for the future.

Gooooooo, worms..!

Autonomic Dysfunction

I’m still waiting to get some tests done — A brain MRI with contrast, an EEG, and flexion/extension xrays of my cervical spine to see if certain postures create greater narrowing of the spinal channel or impinge on root nerves. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to have these “attacks”, and they appear to be autonomic nerve-related: neuropathy in my face and hands, tingling in the top of my head, profuse sweating, extreme stuffy nose, high blood pressure spikes, dizziness, tinnitus, and a sensation in my body and mind like the onset of a seizure. Oh, and all of this makes me a bit anxious. One neurologist prescribed a sedative to abort them, which seems to work, but so do mega doses of vitamin C, so I’m trying to go as drug-free as I can when managing it.

What sets them off appears to be biomechanical. Last night all it took was sitting in front of the computer and shifting my weight slightly. Then I felt something slip, up high around C2 in my cervical spine, a clicking sensation was audible, then the attack started. No pain, just a lot of weird symptoms, including diarrhea. It’s as if my bowels don’t have a neural connection when this chain of events takes place. Sometimes I’m unable to even initiate peristalsis, and that’s a little spooky.

So what does all of this have to do with helminthic therapy? I see a strong potential connection, if I turn out to be one of the lucky people who get long term benefits. Apparently, many ulcerative colitis sufferers, even if they are currently in remission like me, can develop symptoms of autonomic dysfunction, or AD. If that’s the case, and if the helminths can keep my UC in remission, I’m willing to bet they’ll also calm the inflammation in my central nervous system. The fact that HT has been documented as effective against MS, where healing demyelination is the goal, perhaps if there’s an autoimmune component to my autonomic dysfunction I can find relief, too.

Right now I’m exploring the possibilities, and I’ll know a lot more with test results. When I look back over how my autoimmune issues have developed, this neurological component (high sympathetic state)  is something I’ve been coping with for a good part of my life. These most recent symptoms feel more like a progression from that early point, something where a low threshold was breached, rather than any isolated development. That gives me a lot of hope it can be reversed. Go, worms!

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!

Biomechanics.

I’m not sure how typical or unusual this is, but I found out last summer the hypoglycemic symptoms I’d been having, and also the electrical jolts in my extremities, the hair falling out, numbness in my face, the dimming vision and tinnitus — I found out this wasn’t early stages of MS, as I had feared, or any other major medical situation. Instead, I was referred to a great chiropractor, he adjusted me for the first time in my life, and this treatment alleviated all these seemingly disparate symptoms.

His explanation was pretty simple: the neck can slip out of alignment from bad posture in front of a computer, this compresses key nerves that send impulses to every organ of the body. An adjustment will “reboot” the nervous system, and reestablish these important connections. Realignment of “subluxations” can also improve blood flow to the scalp and brain. It took a few sessions for the benefit to stay consistent, and for the last few months I’ve been feeling pretty good.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t just go back to the chiropractor when things went haywire a week ago. Today I did, and I’m feeling much better. Not 100% yet, but much improved.

The question remains, why did the helminthic therapy effects seem to disappear, and once my neck and spine are behaving again will I suddenly feel that “worm high” coming back? Time will tell. Today I was noticing their characteristic GI disturbance again, this after many days of a normal gut, so I know my “old friends” are still with me. For now I’m just trying to focus on the big three: adequate sleep, a good diet, and consistent exercise.

TMJ, by the way!

My helminth express seems to be off the rails for a moment. Allergies are returning, anxiety is back, so are restricted airways, both in my chest and head. My neti pot offers scant relief for this strange congestion, as there appears to be no mucous, only inflamed tissues. You don’t realize how horrid asthma is until it’s been bannished for 60 days, and then suddenly returns.

Since it’s no fun to go from feeling good and carefree to fairly awful, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure this out. Why did I suddenly start having blood sugar issues again? Was it that one fateful night I had a tiny sip of scotch (no irony, it was only half a shot) with friends, and stayed up way too late? Were my adrenals already hanging by a thread, and that slight nudge was enough to upset the whole apple cart?

Or did this frustrating turn of events happen when my jaw slipped out of joint? Seriously! TMJ,  or temporomandibular joint disorder has cropped up occasionally in the past. It’s annoying because it’s impossible to chew anything without pain, and then there’s the fear of further dislocating the joint. It was about a week ago when my overall health began to backslide, and the TMJ happened first. Is there a connection? Quite possibly, and it’s a strange one.

Apparently, trauma to the nerve near this joint can stimulate the release of “substance P“, which doesn’t get recycled in the body, and has endocryne-like properties. There seems to be no limit to the odd sensations and behaviors provoked by “substance P”, according to one article i read, including itchy skin and an urge to swear. $%@#!! No wonder. What resonates for me in the reading I did tonight are symptoms of tinnitus, and autoimmune issues — specifically, lots of pain and histamines, with acute inflammation. And let’s not forget anxiety and insomnia… or asthma, for that matter.

So is substance P actually the culprit, and is it capable of upstaging the helminth harmony? Or is this combination of factors, like adrenal fatigue from years of prednisone use, inattention to an optimal diet, lack of sleep from too much (half-caf half-decaf!) coffee, and stress from work — did these factors collectively take me off the HT track? Probably “all of the above” and it’s going to be a slow, steady road back. But I would love to think “Hey, man, it wasn’t me — it was the substance P.”

Eat, to avoid allergies.

Overall, my progress has been quite good with helminthic therapy, but tonight (day 58 post-inoculation) I had another allergic episode. It wasn’t as bad as some have been in the past, but I did need to shovel down a fair amount of vitamin C, maybe ten 1,000 mg tablets, though the course of it. This was unpleasant, as always, but I was able to gather what seems like really important information from the event.

It occurred to me these attacks always happen around the same time — mid afternoon to early evening. I wondered if maybe the helminths tend to be more active during those hours. Then another conclusion presented itself: low blood sugar. Most of the recent “worm flu” events I’ve had are consistent with getting caught up in work and skipping meals. On the days where I’ve been less focused on tasks, and eating solid meals, I seem to do just fine. So I quickly fixed a bowl of yogurt, added fresh blueberries, a dash of stevia, and a shot of whipping cream, for some extra calories. Not ten minutes later, my allergic response (congested nose, tinnitis and tightening throat) disappeared.

That got me wondering if there might be a connection between low blood sugar, histamines, and generalized allergic reactions. Lo and behold, there seems to be a solid correlation. In fact, the more I looked, the more it appeared to be the case — autoimmune issues, histamine intolerance, food and seasonal allergies, may be exacerbated by a lack of “fuel” — even conditions as far-ranging as narcolepsy. So next time you feel that “worm flu” coming on, take some time out and feed yourself. And if you want to steer clear of it all day long, eat frequent small meals with plenty of protein, as this is the best way of coping with hypoglycemia, from what I’ve read.

Day 53 — Stability.

Today offered the strongest clues yet that the side effects phase is beginning to resolve. I woke after a fairly sound sleep with decent energy, and only a little of the brain fog and dehydration I’ve come to associate with “worm flu”. My appetite is slowly beginning to emerge again, and I’m able to tolerate the fairly narrow range of foods in my current diet quite well. I’ll test myself with more choices later, once I know I’m not reacting allergically to the helminths anymore.

Exercise is a key barometer — I continue to not only tolerate it, but I am starting to thrive on its effects. Curiously, it really seems to mediate my body’s reaction to the HT. I can feel the strength returning to my legs, as I push myself along at a good clip, searching for fatigue that never seems to come. My breathing is consistently clear and unaffected by temperature, humidity, airborne allergens, etc. By all measures my asthma and upper respiratory complaints are gone.

And it’s also time to celebrate 3 consecutive days of no worm-induced GI disturbances. My gut no longer feels tender, and I’ve started to gain back the weight I lost due to several weeks of compromised digestion — 5 lbs in about 6 days. So I’m now 149 lbs, 11 under my ideal target weight. That’s significant!

Tinnitus is only audible these days when I’m having a reaction to the HT, which came again this afternoon. I was able to deal with the symptoms by taking five 1,000mg tablets of vitamin C. That’s half of what I’ve used in the past, and the attack only lasted 90 minutes — about half the duration of a typical episode. This is one more indication my body  is beginning to submit to the iron will of the worms. The total absence of tinnitus throughout most of the day suggests my adrenal function is normalizing.

I’ll be quite happy if the trend continues, with modest improvement, for the foreseeable future. Obviously, I’d like to start feeling some of the more euphoric moments like I did during the initial “bounce”, post-inoculation, but as my sleep patterns rebalance (I still feel a touch of insomnia), and my diet becomes more varied, I would expect the benefits to start ramping, perhaps even with some synergy.

Histamines and Helminths

Here’s a bit of a recap after some observation: due to its impact on my adrenals in the past, and other wide ranging side effects, I have chosen to avoid taking prednisone, or limit its use as much as possible, during the side effects phase of HT. In its place, I’m using benadryl to cope with the worst attacks, but otherwise am relying on fairly large doses of vitamin C (up to 10K mg per episode), which I’ve found to be a safe and very effective antihistamine. Guess what? In my opinion, vitamin C is actually more effective than prednisone for “worm flu”. Here’s why:

When I have an allergic response to the HT, it is transitory, almost as if the attack is triggered by one or more of the helminths moving from one “site” to another in my gut. I can think of no other reason why I’ve had a total of 6 such episodes in the last 50 days, at fairly random intervals. Several days ago I was convinced Lamb was the trigger, now I wonder if it may just be the HT on its own. Whatever the cause, vitamin C acts quickly and has no lingering effects, so it is tailor made to address the 2 or 3 hour bouts I’ve had with allergic response to helminths.

Secondly, and I can only suggest this based on an intuition, the effectiveness of HT may very well be built up over time, as our bodies react. In other words, mounting an immune response may be what provokes the immune-modulatory action from the helminths, so by blunting this, for an extended duration with a drug like prednisone, do we ultimately reduce the benefits of the helminthic therapy? I can’t say for sure, but this is yet another reason I’m using the more benign vitamin C to deal with acute worm flu. Perhaps it will allow a more open “conversation” between worm and host.

I’m also drinking plenty of water, to flush my body of histamines. Here are some clues: since eating foods with high levels of histidine (which converts to histamine) seems to make me feel worse, I’m guessing my histamine levels are high, overall, and most likely due to the HT itself. Since too much water without electrolytes can be unhealthy, I make a point of adding a potassium/magnesium/calcium formula a few times daily, to fortify these fluids.

The results? Well, today I had the least amount of GI disturbance since the side effects began, which felt like a fantastic achievement, but suffered a smaller scale 2 hour allergic reaction this afternoon. I’ll call this yet another example of nonlinear progress.

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.

Six Weeks — Hooray, Helminths!

Today I woke up early feeling a touch of worm flu. I’d only slept a few hours (friends came late the night before) and for some reason I had… an odd bit of energy. Sure, I was dried out and congested, which is par for the course these days, but I just hydrated myself with water and electrolytes, and then went about my work day.

Trips to the bathroom? Oh, yes, indeed. More than a few — the usual routine. However, my earlier attention to fluids and minerals seemed to help dampen that immune reaction after a while. I trudged onward. By lunch, my appetite wasn’t huge, but I ate anyway. Several hours later, I quit working for the day.

Still feeling fairly good, I went out and took a walk, then settled in for a nap, and fell asleep easily. Not 30 minutes later, I woke up spontaneously, with a burst of… real energy. Hmmmm… my nose was suddenly wide open, my gut felt calm and happy. My mood was… really upbeat.

Taken aback by this, I tried to put all wishful thinking out of my mind and conducted an objective inventory of my senses. Nothing was quite where it had been yesterday, not at all. In fact, aside from the faintest ringing in my ears, I hardly recognized my body. For quite a while, I just laid there, grinning.

Is this the beginning of not only a new uptrend, but what it feels like to be… getting well?

Day 34 — Tinkering.

So I woke up late again, with pretty intense fatigue, but discovered something unexpected — symptoms of a sinus infection. I thought I had banished it weeks ago, using my neti pot, but it appears to have been smoldering away, dormant, and is now flaring up again.

I’m not surprised — allergy season is still going full bore, predisone (even the small doses I took) may have weakened my immunity some, and the helminths themselves have a reputation for giving those of us with hyper-vigilant immune systems the vulnerability of mere mortals.

I’m back using my neti pot, twice so far today, with a pinch of salt and baking soda. It’s a simple solution that worked before, and this time around I plan to stick with it for maintenance after the “all clear” is sounded.

Again, I’m a witness to this process, and willing to be encouraged by things that aren’t altogether positive. It’s comforting to actually have a low-grade infection, whether it’s viral or bacterial, simply because the “sick” me never got them for the last 10 years. I think my defenses were always too reactive to let it happen.

And I’m realizing that if it weren’t for my sinus issues, I might actually be bouncing out of bed by now. My body feels pretty good, otherwise — no real GI issues anymore, more clarity in my head, and a brighter mood.

Let’s go, sinuses. Stop your sniveling. Onward!

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.

Day 28 — Tug-O-Worm.

I hadn’t planned to post again until events warranted it, but since things are changing rapidly, here goes.

Today, like yesterday, I woke up feeling fairly good and as the afternoon approached had another reaction. It was a bit more muted this time, eventually coming on strong, then suddenly it would reverse and I would feel incredibly good. This push and pull continued for a while: body and mind, oscillating between harmony and dischord. Sleepy and relaxed, breathing freely, then I’d get hit with a stuffy nose and general unease.

At times the troughs were bad enough I decided to take more vitamin C, but there was no need for predinsone today, and for that I’m very thankful. My gut has been feeling really good most of the time, too, so if all goes according to plan, I hope to ditch the pills and lean on the worms, from here on out.

So what’s happening, why the back and forth? All I can think is the helminths are training my immune system to not harm them, by reacting when I react, and sending out the good vibes to calm everything down. It may sound a bit strange, but I’m really enjoying this process.

In moments I get glimpses of how I felt during the initial 5 day “bounce”, so maybe, just maybe, I can recapture that as my longer term benefit. Fingers crossed.