Tell Your Doctors: Stop Overprescribing Cipro, Levaquin & Other Fluoroquinolones

People the world over have had their health ruined by a dangerous class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. Cipro and Levaquin are two of the most common names. Check this list here to see if you’ve taken them.

The FDA recently put black box warnings on these drugs due to adverse reactions, like neuropathy and tendon damage, but the effects include a variety of unofficial consequences some of us know all too well: ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, CFS/ME, liver and kidney damage, hypothyroidism, tinnitus, SIBO, and diabetes, to name a few.

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Fellow “Floxies” – another year is nearly behind us. I hope you’re all having the best holidays possible — I wanted to ask each of you a favor.

Let’s create a vibrant, public forum where we can present our case – not only the scientific evidence, but also the human toll – to the medical community. Let’s educate doctors, who continue to prescribe these drugs, about the dangers of fluoroquinolones.

I’ve created a new site, GHN Forums. It’s a health community that can be easily searched from Google (unlike most Facebook groups), and it’s free to anyone who wants to join. You, your friends, your family members, and especially your doctors – let’s meet up, and let’s fix this.

Signing up to GHN Forums just takes one click via FB Connect. Here’s the link. Once inside, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the layout, and then meet up in the forums. It’s a brand new group, and it needs your voices.

In the days and months ahead, as our community grows, GHN will stay on the case, and coordinate with others, to see real safeguards are put in place, so these drugs are no longer given out for minor infections, or prescribed to people who have already been floxed.

This is a “numbers game”, as the saying goes. Please share this article using the social links below. FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest. Ask others in your networks to get involved, too. Let’s email this out to physicians, and encourage them to spread the word.

If we succeed, think of the immediate impact, and what it will do for future generations.

Meanwhile, as always, GHN is dedicated to helping those of us already damaged by these drugs to find better health. One such example is our Iodine Forum. You’re also invited to join up and create your own group. The idea is to figure out what’s working, and learn from each other.

Let’s make 2015 a genuinely Happy New Year.

Thanks!

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Iodine Protocol: Still Working!

I’ve been taking iodine therapeutically since November 5, 2014, well over a month now, and experiencing some very solid benefits. For an explanation of why it may be helping so much, you can see the first installment here, and the second installment here.

It’s still highly effective against fungal overgrowth. In fact, other than a slight hint of candida symptoms whenever I stop iodine for 48 hours or more, this chronic infection now feels totally under control. It’s impressive, considering how sick I have been with yeast issues for much of my adult life, after taking multiple rounds of Cipro and Levaquin antibiotics.

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I know of no better way to measure iodine’s impact than to say I was able to eat two bananas, on back to back nights, as a midnight snack last week. For years, even one bite would have brought on a torrent of yeast symptoms, such as itchy ears, skin eruptions, scalp problems, asthma, and… none of this happened. Instead, I now have a tasty new source of potassium in my diet.

Boosting thyroid function allows our innate immunity to kill candida – not such a crazy thought now, nor was it back in 1972, if you read this very interesting study linked here.

Most protocols start at high doses, such as 12.5 mg iodine, and then increase over time to as many as 50 mg or even 100 mg.

This is NOT what I’ve been doing.

I cannot stress it enough — for me, going low and slow has yielded the best results. If you read my first post, you’ll see I ramped up from 2.5 mg in water (using Lugol’s 2%, one drop per day) and over a two week period went to 12.5 mg for only a brief time. Yikes. Not good. Even with salt loading, as needed, my detox remained intense.

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It wasn’t uncommon for me to have diarrhea throughout the day, and this continued even at 7.5 mg iodine daily, or down to 5 mg. I did divided doses, added to distilled water, from morning until noon. Whatever the approach it was just too much, so I’ve since backed it way off… to right where I began… at 2.5 mg. This equates to only one drop of Lugol’s 2% Iodine solution, in a pint of distilled water, and I sip it during the first half of the day, to avoid any stimulating effects before bed.

Furthermore, rather than continuous daily use, I’m now trying it for 4 days on, 3 days off, which is considered “pulse dosing”, so my body can catch up on the detoxification process. My gut has always been my weakest link, and I encourage anyone who is doing an iodine protocol to not only listen to their body, but anticipate how their unique physiology may require adjustments to dosing.

Even on my iodine-free days, I continue to take the companion nutrients. Selenium is most important, from the standpoint of protecting the thyroid against harm, as with hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition. Chris Kresser has recommended a complex, containing a few types of selenium, Paul Jaminet feels most people will be able to get enough from food sources, others suggest eating brazil nuts, with a caveat: more than a few might cause an overdose of selenium.

What other types of nutritional support can help? Since the gut is most anyone’s primary detox pathway, I’m making sure I drink home-brewed kefir daily and take VSL #3 and Miyarisan Tablets for additional probiotics. I’m also adding plenty of resistant starch to my diet, to encourage the growth of healthy colonic bacteria.

So how about the bigger picture, the future? I’m driven by results, and right now candida symptoms are virtually gone, I’ve healed my constipation, I’m sleeping better (except when diarrhea has been active), my body temperature is much more even, and I no longer get chilled on warm days, I have fewer aches and pains, no more mucus or blood in stools (I’ve had ulcerative colitis since 2000).

Sounds like I’m correcting hypothyroidism, doesn’t it? My sinusitis is gone (fungal overgrowth-related), my vision is much sharper, my libido is back, my skin is clear, my hair is softer and no longer dry, tinnitus is gone about 75% of the time, my appetite is better, and I also feel “full” when I’ve eaten enough food. I also have virtually zero anxiety.

Basically, it’s as if all my body’s rhythms are in tune, and I’m running a little hotter. I feel hugely better. So, given this, my instinct is to resist the urge to push aggressively through what would probably be a rough detox. I’d rather spare my body that damage and be patient. After all, since I’m feeling so solid, what’s the rush? 🙂

If you’ve had a history of Cipro, Levaquin, or other fluoroquinolone antibiotics use, and are developing hypothyroid symptoms, you may have a functional iodine deficiency, due to iodine receptors being blocked by fluoride and other toxins, such as bromide, chlorine, and mercury. We have a group on Facebook now, for learning about ways to correct this problem. Whether you’re actively taking iodine, or just want to learn more about it, please feel free to join us. Also, your comments are appreciated here in the Hot Topics forum. Login, hit the “join group” button, and go. 🙂

If you enjoy reading GHN, 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 very much!

Food Poisoning? Probiotics to the Rescue.

How many of you heard recently about the amazing Woodrat, who can devour a wide variety of toxic plants? That’s interesting on its own, but then consider this: if you transplant Woodrat poop to other rodents, even its unrelated brethren can suddenly eat the same toxic stuff.

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So it seems clear enough: the healthy bacteria found in Woodrat guts are the reason for this animal’s uncanny ability.

That brings to mind an analogy: all those toxic things I used to be able to gobble up — restaurant food, ancient leftovers, just about any foodtruck fare — before I was prescribed a bunch of nasty antibiotics, including Cipro and Levaquin, a class of drugs the FDA has since slapped with “black-box” warnings.

Indeed, ever since my gut flora was blasted to smithereens, I’ve had trouble eating anything but the most well-prepared food. Since it’s impossible to always be careful and cook our own meals, a helpful remedy I learned was to start shoveling down probiotics at the first sign of a problem.

VSL#3 is suitable, due to a wider range of flora. It’s also effective for ulcerative colitis. Another popular brand is a mix of soil-based organisms, Prescript Assist. A third option: Miyarisan Tablets, a Japanese probiotic that contains c. butyricum, which generates its own antifungal, anti-inflammatory butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) helpful in IBD. Given the lack of butyrate in guts of people with metaboilc issues, c. butyricum may be able to do even more for us.

Back to our restaurant experience gone-awry, or those leftovers that should have been tossed, the theory behind high dose probiotics is they can often overwhelm pathogenic microbes. True enough, I’ve had it work wonders, but in an acute situation of tainted food, it’s not uncommon for me to gulp down 5X the normal dose of VSL#3 and maybe even re-dose a few hours later.

Since it’s not clear how the body will deal with large doses of soil-based bacteria, I am sparing with Prescript Assist and only take VSL #3, or other brands such as Life Start, which is a single strain (bifido infantis) probiotic, and another multi-strain product, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care, in larger quantities. Keep in mind Renew Life is enteric coated, which means it’s designed to dissolve in the lower GI tract. Therefore, it’s best to open the capsule before dosing, if you need it to work right away.

I’ve also taken peppermint oil (which i just read is a powerful antifungal), oregano oil, and colloidal silver, when I needed quick relief. These can certainly work well against bad bacteria, but they also degrade the good bugs, so whenever possible I try to avoid herbals and antimicrobials. In the case of SIBO, some upper gut sterilization can be helpful. This is one reason peppermint is recommended for IBS.

An additional approach that may help with a toxic gut is activated charcoal. People who have overdosed on medications are often given this in hospitals, and it can work to mop up a lot of organic toxins quickly. Just be aware it will bind with everything, including whatever medicinal supplements you take with it.

So this is the strategy that’s worked for me. What about your own gut? If you find you’re getting GI issues after eating pretty often, and you never used to have that problem, think back to how many courses of antibiotics you may have had in your lifetime, or — since we get our gut flora from our mothers — how many your Mom may have had, too. You may be developing a condition called dysbiosis, which simply means damaged gut flora. Problems often arise from too few bacteria rather than too many.

What are the potential consequences? About 10 years ago I got sick from restaurant food and landed in the ER several hours later with a 104F temp. They gave me (very ironically) IV Levaquin antibiotics to stop the infection. Take that, Woodrat.

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Major problems followed, including POTS (a type of neuropathy), food intolerances, SIBO, plus major brain fog, anxiety, tinnitus and insomnia. For those unfamiliar with the term, I’d been “Floxed” by fluoroquinolones, which I later learned are actually chemotherapy agents, not just antibiotics. Anyone who pops Cipro or Levaquin for minor infections, be very careful.

Had I known of this “probiotic rescue” at the time, I could have been overwhelming the bacteria in my upper gut right away, long before I began to develop a fever. Alternatively, I could have been drinking colloidal silver and taking oregano oil, or peppermint oil. Even turmeric and raw garlic have fairly potent antibacterial qualities.

NOTE: food poisoning can be serious, so by all means seek medical attention if you feel really sick after a meal. All the measures I’ve mentioned can be tried while you’re preparing for a trip to urgent care, so I hope you’ll be waltzing out of the waiting room early, rather than spending the night. 😉

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What about longer term solutions for GI health? Probiotics are expensive, which makes sustained use impractical for many of us, and how effective are they at colonizing the gut? Results vary, but many probiotics are barely “waking up” by the time they leave our bodies. How about asking our easy-going friend with the iron-stomach to do a poop-swap? Yes, FMT, as it’s called, is the ultimate flora fix, but restrictions on its use have created quite a few hurdles.

For most of us, the best answer may be simple, age-old wisdom: eat more cultured foods. They have trillions of healthy bacteria, compared to the billions in expensive probiotics, and that flora is awake and ready to go to work the moment you consume it!

You can learn how to make your own Kefir and Sauerkraut HERE.

 

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 very much!

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… 🙂

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!

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!

Candida & Vitamin, Mineral Deficiencies

I’ve been doing a fairly aggressive antifungal protocol, using Lufenuron (an animal medication not approved for human use) and taking quite a few herbal antifungals. Along the way, I’ve had moments of feeling wonderful, and yet the progress is not at all linear. Recently I’ve discovered how vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be harming my body’s ability to control candida overgrowth on its own, and how I may be able to solve this with simple supplementation.

For quite some time I’ve had heavy fatigue, which came on the last time I took Levaquin, a few years ago. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics contain high amounts of fluoride, a vehicle attached to the quinolone to allow penetration deep into body tissues. Fluoride binds to magnesium, so there’s reason to think those of us who have been “floxed”, that is poisoned by these powerful antibiotics, may be able to heal ourselves by improving our magnesium status.

A complicating factor for some of us: antibiotics like Levaquin and Cipro destroy beneficial barrier bacteria that keep harmful candida albicans overgrowth from occurring, and as it overgrows, candida appears to use up magnesium stores. There’s a great deal of debate about magnesium, whether supplementing it will feed candida or help us fight it off.

This study suggests magnesium can aid hyphal growth of candida, but the presence of calcium may negate that. Dr. Carolyn Dean feels strongly that magnesium supplements should be taken, not avoided. Given the controversy, supplementing magnesium seems safest to me if done in combination with an acid, to discourage fungal overgrowth, such as Betaine HCL, so that’s how I’m taking it.

How about other essential minerals? I was given IV Levaquin for food poisoning, which likely wouldn’t have happened if earlier use of antibiotics hadn’t wiped out a lot of my beneficial flora. While in the ER with a 104F temperature, I remember the nurses insisting I take two potassium capsules. They said my blood work showed dangerously low levels of this essential mineral.

Flash forward. Last night I felt anxious, I was having trouble focusing on my work. I noticed all my muscles were tense, tinnitus was loud, and my gut was full of gas, which is typical of SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The bloating seemed to be irritating my vagal nerve, and I could tell my blood pressure was elevated. Here are the symptoms of potassium deficiency, which include bloating (due to transient neuropathy) and hypertension.

I tried sleeping, and it was impossible, so I went to the cupboard and noticed a bottle of Trisalts. It’s a blend of calcium, magnesium, and a small amount of potassium. I took a dose of this, and within 20 minutes felt the vast majority of my symptoms improving, including healthy peristalsis and no more trapped gas. This morning I woke up feeling very rested, with my nose wide open. My mood was much brighter, muscles were relaxed, and my tinnitus was barely audible.

Now a few hours later my tinnitus is totally gone. It’s hard to describe, but I just feel more grounded, present in my body and relaxed. More like my “old self”. That healthy person.

Beginning yesterday, and continuing into today, I’ve also started boosting my B vitamin intake, with a B-complex, because the last blood work I had showed my white count was in the low-normal range, and folate deficiency can worsen this. The brand I’m taking contains folate (as Metafolin®, L-5-MTHF), rather than folic acid, which has been shown to be unhealthy. Perhaps a low white count is simply a symptom of hyphal candida overgrowth, as is suggested in this article. In any case, I do notice a lift from B supplementation, which is consistent with candidiasis and impaired absorption of B6.

candida

Finally, I’m taking vitamin C with renewed interest, since it’s clear my whole body is in need of nutrition, but I was quite curious — how might vitamin C help with candidiasis? Buckle up for some exciting news: according to this study, ascorbic acid inhibits candida’s ability to transform from a benign yeast form to an aggressive hyphal infection. Hooray for that!

So here’s my plan for the days ahead: I think all my antifungal protocols are important, but they won’t result in lasting healing unless my body has the nutrients to fight the infection off and keep the fungal overgrowth in check. After last night’s solid results from simple mineral supplementation, and the tonic effect I’ve had from vitamins B and C, I am encouraged, and don’t think minerals (when taken properly) feed candida more than they aid in vital immune function.

To be continued. 🙂

Are you taking magnesium to heal from fluoroquinolone antibiotics? Have you noticed if this helps or hurts your body’s ability to cope with candida infection? How about vitamin C and its role in fighting fungal ovegrowth? Please join the conversation in the comments section, and let us know how you’re doing.

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.

bench

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.

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 Chronic Fatigue & More

A month or so ago I was feeling “okay” but not great. Ever since I was given Levaquin antibiotics in the ER for food poisoning, about 4 years ago, I’ve had CFS/ME, brain fog, tinnitus, POTS, SIBO, food intolerance, asthma, ulcerative colitis, sinus and skin issues, depression/anxiety, rising blood sugar and constipation.

Does this sound familiar to any of you? What’s the common thread?

I’ve had fungal overgrowth, inside and out, for years, made much worse by broad spectrum antibiotics. Doctors shuffle me out of their offices when I ask for Nystatin powder, or other prescription antifungals, despite having obvious plaques on my scalp, feet, face, chest and groin, plus sinus and lung irritations consistent with candidiasis.

I have tried my best to control it with diet and herbals, like olive leaf, pau d’arco, grapefruit seed extract and berberine. It’s a chronic infection, so I’m slowly feeling worse and worse. Recently, even downing healthy amounts of cultured veggies and homemade kefir (both are powerful probiotics) hasn’t been very effective.

Flash back to a month ago, all it took was one starchy lunch that fed candida and i got horribly ill. I had GERD, muscle spasms, insomnia, asthma. In the days that followed, I knew I needed to do something more drastic to get the upper hand. Colloidal silver was helpful, but not something I wanted to take longer term. I heard about Lufenuron in an online forum. Not for human use, this chitin-inhibitor dissolves flea eggs, and… the outer shell of candida. Mammals don’t have chitin, so it’s apparently safe for dogs, cats and (theoretically) people.

It’s typically given for the first week of every month, daily, with a high fat meal (so it will deposit in tissues and be slow-released, rather than quickly leaving via the GI tract), then for the remaining 3 weeks of each month it goes to work destroying fungal overgrowth.

gorilla

Yes, humans aren’t supposed to use it, but there’s nothing stopping anyone from treating their gorilla, so that’s what I set out to do. Curiously, ever since i gave my pet ape pure Lufenuron, we both started to feel much better.

This is my record of that adventure, which will be updated periodically:

Day 1: dosage was 2 grams, and by the middle of Day 2, a major burst of mental clarity occurred. By that evening, the ability to sleep deeply had returned, to the point of waking on Day 3 — after 10 hours with no dreams, out like a light — and muscles felt much less sore, plus joint pain had disappeared.

To reiterate: during a 7 day total treatment “loading” window, 2 grams were administered daily, with a high-fat meal.

By Days 4 and 5, die-off symptoms emerged, which is not surprising, and lasted until Day 12: diarrhea, blurred vision, fatigue, insomnia and body aches. The good news: no more constipation, but it took 10 days for die-off to subside, and detoxing continues.

Day 13: colon inflammation is gone, and a healthy, sometimes ravenous appetite has emerged. I’m finding I don’t have to manipulate my neck as much to relieve POTS symptoms. I also think my tinnitus is a little better. It comes and goes, but I have more moments of silence.

Today, Day 14, upon waking, the gorilla is quite spunky, feeling like a randy teenager (Lufenuron might replace Viagra), and in the afternoon, muscles unwind in a characteristic activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, as nap time beckons. The vagal nerve is working now, which is intriguing! Was candida to blame for it running amok? It’s amazing how long, hot showers are enjoyable again (for my monkey). Relaxation is happening; anxiety is disappearing. There’s no more being stuck in fight-or-flight mode.

Healing like this is emotional, but “joy” hasn’t returned yet. My gorilla is still waiting for that.

By the way, people should not treat their primate’s flea problem with pure Lufenuron unless they’ve consulted a veterinarian, and should never treat themselves using medication not approved for humans. In fact, any and all new treatments contemplated should first be discussed with a physician. Please see the disclaimer.

With that said, CFS symptoms are improving, POTS also, along with so much more. Go, monkey, go.

To be continued.

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.

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!

Heal Type 2 Diabetes with a Probiotic?

Recently, I’ve discovered the joys of butyrate for gut inflammation, when it stopped my last ulcerative colitis flare faster than steroids or Imuran, but it’s clear this short chain fatty acid (SCFA), which is created by gut bacteria as they ferment mostly vegetable fibers, is critical to protecting against colon cancer, leaky gut, and a variety of other conditions. What if anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory butyrate is also the key to healing diabetes, or rather, what if an absence of butyrate-generating gut flora may lead to dysregulation of blood glucose, and what if we could fix this?

Enter Clostridium Butyricum, a Japanese probiotic by the name Miyarisan Tablets, that actually generates butyrate! Of course it makes sense this soil-based bacteria might also heal ulcerative colitis, but it has another wonderful feature: its ability to guard against deadly c. diff infections. In Japan, many people are given c. butyricum upon entry to a hospital, as a preventative for these dangerous and highly-contagious acquired infections. Yes, this probiotic is a true powerhouse.

Clostridium_butyricum

Back to metabolic issues, I read an article on Chris Kresser’s site where he noted low carb dieters tend to have higher blood glucose levels, because of induced insulin resistance. Here’s an additional hypothesis: I wonder if people with damaged flora seek out a paleo diet, since it’s less likely to aggravate their GI symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance. Furthermore, ancestral diets (in practice) tend to be higher in fats and animal protein and lower in vegetable fibers, so it makes sense these people would start out deficient in butyrate-generating flora, pre-paleo (perhaps due to antibiotics use or inherited altered flora), and continue to limit their butyrate generation through lower consumption of vegetable fibers. A growing interest in resistant starches seeks to address this, with dietary hacks that increase butyrate.

Are higher than normal fasting glucose levels static, or over a longer time frame are these people at risk for developing diabetes? And what if someone is already diabetic? Generally, low carb diets work for managing type 2, and resistant starch gets high marks for improving metabolic profiles, bifido strains or not. We’ve known for quite a while that cultured foods improve diabetes by limiting carbohydrate metabolism. Leading edge research is now figuring out gut flora transplants might even heal diabetes. But what if simply establishing a colon full of c. butyricum could provide some of these same benefits?

Another approach would be to use a probiotic developed for IBD, VSL #3, to brew a yogurt, which would boost the ranks of bacteria substantially and also make it totally active. Here’s a study that shows VSL #3 was both effective in increasing glucose tolerance and generating more butyrate. VSL is more complex than Miyarisan. It lists streptococcus thermophilus, bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium longum, bifidobacterium infantis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus plantarum (abundant in sauerkraut), lactobacillus paracasei, and lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus. When making a yogurt from this, it’s assumed these ratios would change, as not all bacteria would have the same growth rate in milk.

While it’s not likely to be a cure, could therapeutic doses of c. buytyricum,  or the blend of strains in VSL #3, halt rising glucose levels, or even improve numbers?

I aim to find out. My fasting glucose used to be perfect, but have been creeping higher since taking courses of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, like Cipro and Levaquin. Anyone can monitor their levels, using a glucose meter, so it should be easy to track results. I’ll try the Miyarisan Tablets in combination with VSL#3 in a ferment, for increased viability, and will be eating my tried and true resistant starches, which should boost good ole butyrate. Along the way, I predict ulcerative colitis will be banished from my gut, since I’ll be a prolific butyrate auto-generator for the first time in many years. Stay tuned!

Are you pre-diabetic or diabetic, and experimenting with probiotic foods and resistant starch? Do you use butyrate supplements for ulcerative colitis or crohn’s? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section, or at GHN on Facebook. We also have a dedicated group on Facebook for Healing or Avoiding Diabetes by Fixing the Gut. Thanks! 🙂

Help Build a Fecal Microbiota Donor Registry

Many of us who suffer from overprescription of antibiotics, and adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Levaquin and Cipro, realize our microbiota has been badly damaged, and eating cultured foods, or taking probiotic pills, is likely not going to be enough to restore complete gut flora, proper immune function, and mental health.

FMT has already proven its effectiveness in many cases of C. Diff Infections. Recent studies indicate FMT may also be curative in CFS/ME, diabetes, MS, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. I feel it can also be an important supportive therapy for those coping with Lyme Disease, as it rebuilds the flora lost from frequent antimicrobial treatments. Far from this being fringe science, Psychology Today acknowledges how FMT could play a role in treating anxiety. Here’s another article, in the New York Times, from a fecal transplant donor.

Here’s the good news: we already have a registry for FMT donors, and people can SIGN UP, at thepowerofpoop.com! This will be a huge step in giving thousands of people the full spectrum of probiotics they need. If you’re on Twitter, please re-tweet this post (instead of favoriting), or just use the Twitter link at the bottom of this blog entry.

Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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!

IBD and Vagal Nerve Issues: the Gut/Neck Axis?

Is it possible some of us with IBD also have an underlying neck injury, which drives gut inflammation?

The average human’s head is about the weight of a bowling ball, so it’s not surprising the neck can experience trauma due to an acute injury, or chronic misalignment through smart phone use (text-neck!) , poor posture on the job, inactivity, etc.

For me, inflammatory conditions began with antibiotic use, but they got MUCH WORSE after a neck injury, sustained in a traffic accident, several years ago. Initial symptoms were a stuffy, blocked nose without congestion, then asthma, sinusitis, tinnitus, TMJ, constipation, IBS, and a few years later ulcerative colitis.

UC lead to inactivity, more time spent in front of a computer, degenerative changes in my neck, throw in a dose of Levaquin for food poisoning, then SIBO, food intolerances, hyperadrenergic POTS, heart palpitations, GERD, panic attacks/anxiety, and finally chronic fatigue.

I’ve had quite a few breakthroughs with health in the last few years, but the most profound occurred about a week ago when I realized many of these symptoms I’ve had for years (while directly linked to antibiotics use) are also mediated by my posture, specifically, if my neck is in an unhealthy kyphotic curvature (reverse of normal alignment) or wonderful, yet illusive, lordosis .

What’s the inflammation connection? The vagal nerve runs throughout the body, getting its name “the wanderer” from the widespread path it travels, but it threads its way through a narrow channel in the cervical spine, such that compression of soft tissues between the upper cervical vertebrae can impair a lot of vagal function. This is my layperson’s view. Let’s see if our experience bears this out.

Given that the “fight or flight” response includes a clenching of neck muscles, in preparation for fleeing, is it possible this reduction of parasympathetic response (relaxation) is partially a built-in biomechanical feature of our bodies? If so, chronic stress, with its attendant tightening of that upper cervical spine, may be a vicious cycle — one that we can fairly easily monitor and turn around!

In a previous post I mentioned the posture pump I’ve been using. It’s fairly inexpensive, and definitely effective, but also impractical for anyone out and about in the world. What if we could do something similar with no equipment? Enter the “Alexander Technique“.

I’m warning you: this practice is so simple, you may wonder if you’re doing much at all, but when performed properly, you’ll notice a big difference. For some, this perfecting of posture and movement may be all you’ll need.

I have developed the habit, in just a few short days, of “sitting tall” in my car, as I’m driving. I tilt my head back ever so slightly, so that my chin is jutting forward. Lordosis! I can feel my nasal passages opening, my sinuses draining. I also notice my blood pressure dropping, as pressure (I assume) is taken off my vagal nerve.

Furthermore, when I adopt this posture throughout the day, I notice the “heat” that fills my entire lower abdomen, and gives rise to gut inflammation, mucus in stools, dull pain — this totally goes away. Hmmm…

I know I’m not the only person who experienced the sudden onset of hyperadrenergic POTS after a neck injury. A cardiologist I consulted a few years ago about my POTS symptoms mentioned one hyperadrenergic patient of his who was a perfectly healthy woman until she got whiplash in a car crash. I’m in touch with another woman via Facebook who had a skiing accident. She hurt her upper cervical spine, and has had POTS (standard, low blood pressure form) ever since.

This is certainly sad, especially given how little the allopathic doctors understand about hyperadrenergic POTS, or UC and other forms of IBD — typically they are good at treating acute symptoms — but if permanent neck trauma is indeed part of a multi-factoral range of inflammatory triggers, we can at least try to heal vagal nerve function from the gut side of the equation.

Our enteric nervous system is a feedback loop, so the Gut/Brain/(Neck?) Axis works in reverse, and if we have mechanical impairment “upstairs”, boosting gut flora signaling via the vagal nerve, from gut to brain, may compensate for the neurological impairment in some people. I’ve been tinkering a lot with eating gut bugs (in yogurt, sauerkraut, my own homemade kefir and probiotics) that may promote parasympathetic (relax and digest) activity. More on that in a future post.

Does anyone else have a history of neck injury or strain that could explain more global issues? If so, I’d appreciate hearing from you in the comments section.

EDIT: since writing this article not long ago, I’ve spoken to huge numbers of IBD sufferers who had a neck injury immediately preceding the onset of their illness. I’d appreciate your feedback. If you’ve had a similar experience and would like me to include your story in a future post, send me an email via the contact form. Thanks! 

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!

Hookworm Only — Starting Over.

It’s been ages since I updated this blog. Basically, I was doing very well on the first round of helminthic therapy, then wounded my finger tip when I was cooking dinner one night. A one week course of Levaquin antibiotics (early August, 2011) sterilized my gut, and what grew back was a horrible mix of bacteria. This triggered a flare of ulcerative colitis. I probably already had SIBO, too, from years of antibiotics from childhood to young adult years, but the constipation from this last round of antibiotic “therapy” made it all much worse. I then decided to add a 1500 whipworm top off dose, to stop the bleeding in my colon, but this just made my bowels more sluggish and I started to feel allergic to just about everything.

Eventually, enough was indeed enough. Due to a growing intolerance to foods, I had to kill off my 2000 whipworm and 55 hookworm combination with a three day course of Mebendazole (late October, 2011) and start over. On November 22nd I reinoculated with 50 Necator Americanus hookworm and decided to avoid the whipworm this time, since they appeared to contribute to an increased allergic response and most likely compounded the constipation from antibiotics. I feel I can now control my ulcerative colitis with probiotic implants and as long as hookworm reduce my allergies, this will also help my IBD improve.

So far, so good. I’m really feeling better this time around. Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be 6 weeks since I inoculated with 50 Necator Americanus hookworm. Last time, when I did the 55 hookworm/500 whipworm combination, by week 7 my asthma disappeared, so that’s a potential benchmark. If anything, I feel like I’m having earlier symptom relief on round two, and am reacting less allergically in general.

My nose started clearing around Thanksgiving, due to the “bounce”, which is an early symptom relief some of us get from hookworm, then this upper respiratory relief became a longer term benefit about a week or so ago. I hardly ever react to things like house dust anymore, and if I do it’s a more typical reaction like a sneeze, something I never could manage when my immune system was a deer in the headlights.

In October I was experiencing incredible food intolerance — reacting to nearly every protein I tried to eat — with a stuffy nose, tinnitus, and throat tightening sensation. The last week or so I’ve noticed my appetite increasing, and seeing that as a signal, I’ve since been testing and enjoying normal portions of pork and lamb, plus smaller amounts of beef. I’ll try things like chicken and fish at a later date when it’s more obvious the hookworm are providing benefits. Vegetable fats and proteins, like avocado and coconut, have also been fairly problematic in the past, so I’ll wait a while to test those, too.

Should anyone ever wonder if hookworm can help with salicylate sensitivity, in my case I think it’s doing exactly that. In early October I reacted to an over the counter product with salicylates (acne cream and a skin wash) when I used it on my face, and since then foods higher in salicylates would trigger a similar reaction — nasal congestion, tinnitus, increased heart rate and anxiety, asthma and throat tightening. It was no fun at all! Last night I tried eating a boiled carrot, since they are high in salicylates, and barely reacted. This morning I’m sipping a cup of organic coffee (also pretty high on the scale) and enjoying it. None of this would have been possible a month ago!

One of the best benefits now is relief from anxiety and muscular tension. I’m waking up feeling rested, with a very relaxed back and legs, and am drowsy enough to take naps, which creates a virtuous cycle.

Another thing I’m noticing — my face is clearing up. When my gut flora is out of balance, I often get acne to each side of my nose.

By the way, I have a new GI doctor who knows Joel Weinstock at Tufts University, is a major proponent of helminthic therapy, and (as I understand it) has sat on panel discussions with Weinstock. This doctor of mine also does fecal transplants for quite a few of their patients and has told me FT can be really helpful in the right applications, including my own condition. Right now the course of treatment we’re following is to keep things simple and allow the hookworm to get established.

Regarding acne relief, my GI says hookworm appear to literally change the human biome for the better, influencing which of the good bacteria survive and which of the more pathogenic ones don’t, and how large or small each population is allowed to grow. New (and old) research suggests a strong link between SIBO, acne and neuropsychological issues. Note the Stokes and Pillsbury study here, done 70 years ago, and leading edge research is just now catching on to their same hypothesis today.

The possibility of SIBO for me is very real, but I haven’t been tested to confirm it. Diagnosis can involve drinking sugar water to create gases that are then measured in the upper GI tract, but too much carbohydrate can cause flare ups of ulcerative colitis, and I don’t want to take the risk. The best approach in my opinion was to act as if I have SIBO and treat it with diet and probiotics, not antibiotics (which is a more conventional approach). For now, this has meant adding even more soft-cooked vegetables to an already high fiber diet. I’m literally sweeping the bacteria out of my small bowel and into the colon with a “broom” of large plates of veggies, mixed with modest amounts of animal protein. Too much fiber can create problems of its own, like undigested material that continues to feed bacteria, but this mechanical approach to addressing SIBO is short term and focused. As soon as possible I’ll want to eat a lower residue diet.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling well enough to go back into the world and work again, which is great, but in the interest of stabilizing as soon as possible, and cementing my progress, I would like to get up to a full dose of hookworm at the 3 month mark. I’m anticipating doing another 50 hookworm 6 weeks from now, or perhaps even 70, to get up to a 120 hookworm population. Given how minimal the side effects have been for me, I do think I can now handle 70 at once, especially with the 50 in me already, which should ease the immune response.

I’ve also ordered a microscope so I can keep track of my hookworm egg count. I don’t plan on being too precise about this. I don’t care how many eggs per gram of stool they are laying. I just want to make sure they are alive and well, so the plan is to check for ova every few months, and base most of my population maintenance on inoculation timing and overall symptom relief. If things are going well, my instinct is to just let things be and enjoy the ride!

Neurofeedback Helps!

I had my second session with the LENS neurofeedback system yesterday and my subjective opinion is it’s really helping, all the way around. I feel more energetic, my mind is sharper, and I’m more at ease. I’m not quite back to where I was between weeks 7 and 9 of my worm therapy, but if the trend continues, I’ll be there.

One bump in the road was a 7 day course of the antibiotic Levaquin. Some who take it suffer from anxiety and insomnia, and this was me. Fortunately the infection resolved early, and I am now off it, so I can begin the process of rebuilding my gut flora. I’m taking three types of probiotics, several times a day, and eating lots of soft-cooked vegetables to bulk up my stool and combat any yeast overgrowth. I’m also taking digestive enzymes to aid absorption of vitamins and minerals, plus much-needed fats, from my food. Vitamin B complex, a mineral complex, and 5K units of vitamin D3 round out my daily regimen.

Coffee has been forbidden now, since the episodes of increased blood pressure, which are pleasantly absent since the Levaquin was stopped two days ago. I don’t miss caffeine at all, even decaf coffee, so chances are I will bid it farewell, at least for the foreseeable future. Sugar and any complex carbs are also off the menu, and have been for years. Many who do worm therapy discover they can re-indulge in these foods once they are getting longer term benefits, but I’m so keen on healing up I may never even test those waters.

Symptoms of POTS have been a real eye-opener for me, and strong motivation to get back to what works. My primary focus now is to reprogram my circadian rhythm, to get regular, restful sleep, and continue repairing my nervous system as best I can. Progress has been made on that front already, considering I now have no trouble typing or walking, and the paresthesias in my face, forehead, hands and feet are now practically gone. I want to make sure systemic candida is kept to a minimum, too, as it may play a role in autoimmune reactions related to POTS/dysautonomia, in my opinion. Anything that stresses the immune system, be gone!

As for my hookworms and whipworms, I’m hoping the antibiotics I took for a week did them no harm. An egg count, in another month or so, is probably the best way I have to confirm they’re still with me. Chances are they survived just fine, as I can find no reports of mass die-offs when helminths encounter those types of medications.

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..!

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.