Sunday, 23 November 2014

My Arch Nemesis - Blastocystis Hominis

Aka The Colonic Infusion

Back in my earlier posts I touched on having a blastocystis infection HERE and HERE. I've mentioned in the blog briefly outlining the two times I’ve tried to treat it with triple therapy medications via the Centre of Digestive Disease in Sydney. Then there was also the occasion I doubled up with the antibiotic I took for SIBO HERE adding metronidazole to the mix (which is a common treatment) to bring about a tiny glimmer of hope that it might rid my system of the blastocystis as well. Metronidazole (Flagyl) used to be the first line go to treatment for blasto but it has been commonly ineffective for several years… I tried it as I wanted to believe anything was possible at that point.

I was unsuccessful with all three approaches and swung from ‘kinda unwell’ to ‘on the couch can’t move’ sick each time. I swear after each round of meds my poor immune system got a little bit more run down and my digestive system a little more reactive. I felt good for a few weeks after each course of meds but symptoms came back fairly quickly, and sometimes worse than before (my skin was a mess after the round of Flagyl and my food intolerances got progressively worse). Given the choice I’m not sure if I would chose to take this exact route again. At the time though, I was just so desperate to get rid of it, thinking if only I could get rid of the dreaded blasto, my health would be awesome again. I’d finally be happy. So I just held on and forged ahead.

I did a lot of natural things in-between, mainly to support my system versa actively trying to get rid of Blasto. In my research and hours online there isn’t any successful natural protocols to eradicating blasto (doesn’t mean it can’t be done but I couldn’t find any and if they’re around, they certainly aren’t well known and take a long time). I’d highly suggest if you do want to take the natural route, thoroughly interviewing any natural practitioner you’re considering working with and ask if they’ve successfully eradicated blastocystis in their clients before. Even go as far as to ask if you could get a testimonial from a previous client. 

The nail in the coffin for me was when I spoke to one well known naturopath in Sydney and she confessed outright that despite all her efforts she had no luck treating blasto infections naturally and sent all her clients directly to the CDD for consults. This was what set me on this path.

Two places in the world currently do the colonic infusion for blastocystis, Dr Froomes in Melbourne and the Centre of Digestive Diseases in Sydney. In short, under colonoscopy you’re infused via the large intestine with 3 different medications, straight to the site of the infection. According to the CDD and Dr Froomes the success rate for this is 95%… Surely I’d have a good chance of being in that 95%!? After a phone consult with a nurse from the CDD, I was advised not to take anything else orally to avoid risking any further resistance to medications and sabotage any efforts to get rid of it in the future. I figured I’d done enough damage to my gut flora by now I minds well just go the whole way and try my luck. 

Here is my diary outlining my experience: Diary of a Colonic Infusion for Blastocystis 

Here is the full overview of the treatment I went through, oral protocols and infusion information: My 3 step CDD journey to Getting Rid of Blasto

I’m sharing this information not to encourage you either way, but to help you educate yourself on one of the possible routes to take to attempt to get rid of your own infection. When I first started out I was offered very little hope and it was all a bit confusing! I’ve spoken to many people along the way, some who had success after a first line oral treatment, some who felt amazing after the colonic infusion, some who have chosen not to treat blastocystis but monitor their symptoms and address what caused the infection in the first place (how they were a good host to such an infection) and others who no longer have blasto but still have symptoms and health problems. 

Blastocystis affects people differently, some showing many ill effects to hosting an infection while some people remain completely asymptomatic but are carriers. I have to wait and see which category I fall into once I finish two more days of post infusion medication (listed in the diary above)... At the moment it's a little too early to tell if it's helped. I retest in a month so until then it's tons of probiotics, rest and as little stress as possible!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Adrenal Fatigue and Anxiety

I've been laying low the last few weeks, avoiding too many pills and potions, staying away from meds and giving my body a chance to balance out. In the more mellow phase of my ventures I'm realising how much I struggle with adrenal fatigue and anxiety - and am beginning to appreciate the connection.

I've struggled with anxiety since I was a little girl, I just never labelled it that. I'm not going to write a big personal post today, but I did want to share a few links that I have found pretty helpful in explaining things holistically:


Adrenal Fatigue


Over Stimulated Nervous System


Anxiety

Monday, 8 September 2014

Meal Prep - My Way

Aka how to keep the fridge, and your tummy, full!

Last week I posted a pic of my food prep day on Facebook, it was one of my most popular shares. So I thought it be best to follow up with a blog post, a written how-to has got to be more helpful than an inspiring picture with no instructions right? 

If you’ve read a few health blogs on GAPS, SCD, Paleo or the likes you’re probably familiar with the concept of food preparation days, also known as batch cooking. The idea is that in one day you cook enough to tied you over for 3-4 days so you have to spend less time in the kitchen and when you’re hungry, you always have something to grab. One of the hardest things about a restricted diet is that convenience goes out of the window. Grabbing something ‘on the run’ or ‘quickly throwing something together’ when you’re so hungry you could chew on your arm, becomes a thing of the past. Food preparation and batch cooking helps to make the process easier.

I eat very simply at the moment, I’ve tried to introduce more foods but cos I still have blastocystis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (despite a year of various white man meds) it hasn’t been very successful. So I pretty much am still limited to what I shared in a recent blog over HERE And also my blog from last year on what a gut healing diet looks like over HERE

So my meal prep reflects that and in a session I will cook a variety of: chicken/beef/lamb meat patties, fish, carrot/ginger soup, pumpkin soup, bone broth, roasted carrots, roasted pumpkin and kiwifruit jelly. I like these things as they keep well for up to 4 days, they reheat well (in the oven not the microwave, I avoid the microwave as much as possible, it’s ok if you don’t have another option). And when I do a reheat I quickly sauté some zucchini ribbons, silverbeet/chard, spinach or steam some green beans or broccoli depending on if I feel like my gut can tolerate those last two. I then drizzle with some garlic infused or plain olive oil and I have a tasty, quick, nutritious meal.

Meat Patties
  • Mince Meat
  • Herbs
  • Salt and Pepper
Mix together, roll into patties of 100-120grams (I use scales to weigh this out), place in a baking tray, press flat with a fork. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes (this depends on how hot the oven is and how big your patties are). 

***Combos I commonly use = chicken/dill, chicken/chives, lamb/rosemary, beef/thyme, pork/garlic flakes, turkey/tarragon. I often also make patties with chicken livers mixed in… I buy these frozen, allow them to defrost in the fridge, soak them in either milk or salt water (this helps remove the strong taste), rinse them off really well! Chop them up finely and add about 100-150 grams of liver to about 500 grams of mince meat. 

Lemon Fish
  • Fish
  • Salt
  • Lemon
Line a baking dish with tin foil with extra to foil to cover back over the fish, place the fish in the baking dish, squeeze lemon juice over the fish, sprinkle with salt (herbs like parsley, dill, chives can also be added). Cover the fish with the overlapping tin foil (you can also wrap the fish individually in little foil packages). Bake for 10-20 mins at 180C depending on the type and thickness of your fish (thin white fish will need longer than salmon).

Fish I commonly use = salmon, trout, hoki, whiting, barramundi.

Carrot/Ginger Soup
  • Chicken Broth
  • Carrots
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Salt
  • Cooking fat/oil
Wash, peel and chop carrots roughly. Add 1T of coconut oil, duck fat or ghee to a pan, add carrots and heat till oil is melted. Add salt, pepper, and grate ginger on the top. Stir quickly. Add enough broth to generously cover carrots. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer until carrots are soft. Its best to let this cool on the stove for about an hour before placing it into a blender and blending till smooth. I find chicken broth is the best for this flavour combo.

Pumpkin Soup
  • Broth 
  • Pumpkin
  • Turmeric
  • Salt 
  • Cooking fat/oil
Pretty much the same process as above, you can use fresh or powdered turmeric. I have used beef, lamb and chicken broth for this combo. They all have their own unique flavour and make the soup taste different depending on what broth you use.

EASY Chicken Broth 
  • Chicken Carcass or Chicken Necks
  • Salt, Bay Leaves, Apple Cider Vinegar
Place chicken in a slow cooker, sprinkle generously with salt, 2-4 bay leaves and 2-3T of apple cider vinegar (depending on how much chicken bones you have). Cover with filtered water, turn on high till water is bubbling, then turn down to low and leave for 24-48 hours.

EASY Beef Broth 

  • Beef bones or marrow bones
  • Salt, Bay Leaves, Apple Cider Vinegar

For a better taste, place bones on a baking tray and place in the oven for about 10 mins till slightly browned… Then place bones in a slow cooker, sprinkle generously with salt, 2-4 bay leaves and 2-3T of apple cider vinegar (depending on how many bones you have). Cover with filtered water, turn on high till water is bubbling, then turn down to low and leave for 24-48 hours.

EASY Lamb Broth

As above but use lamb shanks.

***Notes on broth - I use about 1kg of bones in my 5 litre slow cooker. I do need to top up the water as it cooks, maybe once every 12 hours I’ll check it, stir it and top up. To manage the broth once its cooked turn it off and leave for about 3 hours to let it cool down. Place a colander over a large glass bowl, use tongs to get as many bones out as you can and place in the colander to drain. Then pour the rest of the broth slowly into the colander allowing the broth to pour through into the bowl (watch this carefully so it doesn't start to overflow from the bowl). Remove the colander, shake over the bowl. Chuck the bones in the bin. From here I will use a measuring cup to transfer my broth into glass jars… (you must make sure broth has cooled enough at this step, hot broth can crack jars) And then pop them in the fridge. Once the broth chills it may form a layer of fat on the top. If this is 0.5cms or less I just leave it and add it in with the broth to whatever I’m doing. Sometimes it can be up to an inch depending on the bones used, some people also use this but because I get nauseous if my fat content is too high I would typically scrap most of this off and throw it in the bin. Other people do keep it and use it as cooking fat…

Roast Carrots
  • Carrots
  • Salt
  • Cooking fat/oil
Peel and chop carrots, rounds or sticks. Place on a baking tray. Gently heat fat of choice in a pot on a low heat, coconut oil, ghee or duck fat are good to use and are all solid at room temperature. Pour melted fat over carrots, sprinkle with salt, shake around on the tray to mix. Place in the oven on 180C for about 20-30 minutes depending on the amount of carrots you have used (I often cook 1kg at a time). It can be helpful at about the half way mark to shake the tray again to ensure even cooking. 

Roast Pumpkin

As above using pumpkin. Cooking time will be slightly less.

Kiwifruit Jelly
  • Kiwifruit (green or gold)
  • Great lakes gelatine (red container)
  • Lemon
Peel kiwifruit using a small sharp knife (cut off top and bottom and then slide the knife along the sides underneath the skin to remove), place in a blender and puree. Place kiwi puree into a pot and heat gently on a low heat. Add lemon juice to puree (I use about 1T for every 6 kiwifruit), turn the heat off and stir. In the blender add gelatine (I use about 1T for every 3 kiwi fruit), add hot water to cover the gelatine plus an extra inch. Pour in kiwifruit puree and blend again. Pour mixture into small separate containers and pop in the fridge. They take about 2 hours to cool and set. You can play around with the amount of gelatine you use to create different textures (more will make it firmer). If they don’t set you have not used enough gelatine. Credit to the happy health nut where i original found the recipe HERE

Zucchini Ribbons 
  • Zucchini
  • Salt
  • Fat
Add 1T of coconut oil or ghee to a fry pan, I use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of zucchini straight into the pan. Add salt to taste, turn on heat and heat for about 3-5 minutes stirring as needed.

Sautéed Greens 
  • Silverbeet, spinach or asian greens
  • Salt
  • Fat
Add 1T of fat to a fry pan, wash and chop greens as required, add to pan, sprinkle with salt. Turn on the heat and stir as the greens cook. I often add some broth to help keep the greens moist and I find it helps them cook faster. Just enough broth to have no obvious liquid at the end when the greens are cooked. Start with a few tablespoons and play around with the amount you need as the greens soften.

As you can see, I don’t really use weighs and measures, I prefer to trust my instincts and practice has taught me how much of what ingredient I need, so don’t be afraid to mess a few things up before you perfect it. Reheating meat patties can be done in the over for 5-10 minutes, same with the roast vegetables. Soups are just reheated in a pan on the stove. Greens I make as needed, usually when I have stuff heating in the oven. For more meal ideas you can check out this blog HERE which has more combos and ideas. Recipe books that have helped me along the way are:

Digestive Health with Real Food

Digestive Health with Real Food Cookbook

Practical Paleo

21 Day Sugar Detox

Autoimmune Paleo 


Sunday, 31 August 2014

One Year Update

Aka things that failed, things that work. 

What a year! I’d like to say I’m all healed, my gut infections and all my symptoms are gone, that depression, anxiety, sleep issues, skin problems, tummy struggles and fatigue are a thing of the past. I’d love to share that my social life is blooming and I can eat and drink everything without some kind of retaliation. I want nothing more than to say I’ve found the elusive ‘what works’ and share it with you. But today is not that day. The unfortunate reality is that in a failed medical system of trying to figure things out by yourself it takes a lot of time, usually more than you expect when you start out. Which is maybe a good thing otherwise we might not start out at all!

What I can share though is that I no longer feel like a victim to my health (although some days it does still frustrate the hell out of me), I can see why what happened has happen, I can see why what didn’t work, failed to work. I know what tests to bother with, what not to think twice about and where to focus my energy. I'm more savvy as to which supplements and books are worth investing in and which white man meds are not worth touching. I can spot a good article in the first few sentences and I know, for the most part, what will help me and what will lead me off course (I’m easily led off course). I also have conviction, consistency and direction, which is something I didn’t have a year ago. As much as I’d love full health, those things are also pretty cool. 

I started not knowing what was up, to finding out, to struggling to find someone who knew all about blastocystis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, chronic fatigue, low adrenal function, mould toxicity, MTHFR gene mutations, pyroluria and the vast array of symptoms all those things cause. I struggled to find a practitioner who would take me seriously and a specialist that could actually help. I’ve been bullied, ripped off, scoffed at and told that my issues weren’t an issue. I’ve been told to deal with it, to medicate it and cautioned by a well meaning doctor, “are you sure you’re not just depressed” and accused by a specialist of still having the eating disorder I overcame in my younger years. I’m just lucky I’m stubborn enough to prove these people wrong, as if I wasn’t I would have given up many times over by now.

While some people have a strong system and may have some of the issues I listed above, they may go a long time unaware and not presenting symptoms. But for those of us who are  physically sensitive, have several years of self neglect and incorrect eating behind us. Who are stress heads that always feel like the world is against us in some way - like we can’t quite tap into this universal flow everyone else seems to be a part of, having a list of health challenges like mine above really can be devastating to daily function and mind set. It’s hard to just ‘get by’ or ‘get on with things’ or ‘deal with it’ and ‘suck it up’ when it takes you an hour or more to wake up in the morning and when you finally do feel alert enough to function, the list of daily symptoms start to present themselves one by one and slowly wilt away any energy you do have.

I’m grateful I’ve had the support, the resources and the time to deal with some of these things. To find the right path and spend money on what was needed and when. My heart goes out to all the people with families to support who are working full time that haven’t been as lucky as me on this crazy journey. Cynthia Pasquella said in a recent podcast (here) that when she got to her rock bottom with her health and was at her wits end, she had a moment when she saw clearly that these things didn’t happen TO her, but FOR her. She was able to change out of victim mode and take some power back. She has since gone on to achieve great health and success from that point onwards. It’s the stories like that, and the hope of helping others, that keeps me going. 

So while I still have all my ‘health challenges’ and have in one sense failed to get rid of them, deal with them or erase the effect they have on me. I’ve restored some faith in myself and my bodies ability to heal. I’ve stopped throwing white man meds at everything with their false promises of sorting it all out while working against my body, and I’ve learned to embrace my current list of issues as teachers who are going to show me the way to something greater. My biggest lightbulb moment is getting to the bottom of WHY this happened, and changing it to prevent it happening again. Not just figuring out the fast fix to get rid of it… Because as tempting as that might sound and as shining as it might seem, it never fixes anything for very long. So here’s hoping this next year is more successful now that I’ve learned what NOT to do to fix your health ;-)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Burn Out!

AKA the all too familiar downward spiral.

So I did it again, not sure when I’ll learn. Got some energy back and started to do EVERYTHING the way I used to, the way I miss, the way that makes me feel powerful and productive… But the way that runs me down, uses all my resources and makes me sick. Seems every time I push too far too fast the SLOW DOWN signal becomes louder… This time I got a nasty attack of Shingles on my face.

I had chicken pox as a kid, the virus stays in your system and lays dormant. Chilling in nerve cells until your run down and your immune system is suppressed and then BOOM. Starts out as a cold, for me a migraine, numbness of the skin on my face and stabbing eye pain. Then about three days later a few small red bumps that I thought were hives and perhaps an allergic reaction to my new gut healing protocol showed up.  A few more days later my skin is burning, my eye has swollen up and the right side of my head is in intense pain. Being the stubborn chick I am I left it until my flatmate didn’t ask me IF I wanted to go to the hospital but gave me three time slots and asked WHEN.

I was pretty resistant, the whole time berating myself and blaming something I’d consumed or the lack of sleep I’d been getting the last two months. Thought the whole hospital idea was a waste of time and didn’t consider it could be anything viral. But it was worse than I thought, and while I was grateful to have an answer for the burning, swelling and numbness I'm not too happy to have 14 days of strong anti-virals in front of me and what could potentially be up to four weeks of forced down time. Bummer! 

Scale back two months: a break up, moving house, leaving a job, going back to full time night shift, driving 45 minutes across town pretty much everyday to ‘do stuff’ and get to appointments, new noises and not enough sleep. I enrolled in an online course, 2 workshops and joined the gym. Push push and refusing to slow down, I was way too busy for that. Same old story, lots of do and not enough down time. No matter how impeccable my diet is, or how expensive and thorough my supplement protocol, I made myself sick, again. I’m starting to notice this pattern, and this time I was able to surrender much more quickly. I “took my hands off the wheel” before I veered more out of control.

Cancelled appointments, let work know I’d probably be out for two weeks, called off social arrangements, withdrew from a workshop and mentally planned for two weeks of rest. I didn’t have any big story around it, simple fact is I was unwell, again, and my lifestyle created yet another hurdle for me as I still refused to listen.

Funny story is, I had Danielle LaPorte’s ‘Desire Map Day Planner’ open on my bookshelf for six weeks prior to my fall which listed the following:


Reviewing it now I did (and did not do) all of these things.

And back in April I posted this article about the exact same thing, busting through all your energy as soon as the smallest fraction of it starts to come back:  The Glass Wall Mistake that Everyone Makes

So, back on the couch, not as frustrated with myself as I usually am in these situations, I guess because I have more acceptance and understanding around how and why I got myself off balance. A greater sense of if I want to stop the roller coaster, I have to make the choice to get off it!

Action Steps:

  • More sleep, 5.5 hours a night isn’t enough
  • More time outside, working nights makes this hard, it has to become a priority
  • More gentle exercise, walking and yin yoga is more supportive of my body than strength training and running intervals at this point
  • Down size my ‘to do’ list, essentials only
  • Only start one new thing at a time, just because I have the energy in this moment for three new endeavours does not mean that energy will last into next month…
  • Meditate daily, even just ten minutes will create much more space in the rest of the day
  • Log off the computer and read something meaningful, facebook is boring and rarely enhances my day in any deep way ;-) 
  • Make more time for random restful activities and remember that they are NOT a waste of time.
  • Don't be afraid to chill and watch a little mindless TV or indulge in a movie night.

Biggest take away is that despite my consistency with my diet and always looking for the answer in what or what doesn’t go in my mouth, if I continue to live in this way and disrespect how much lifestyle choices affect my health I will continue to swing significantly up and down.

Slow down. Listen. Get outside. Laugh with friends. Stop obsessing. Tap into the flow of life. Trust your intuition. Look at the bigger picture. Be kind to yourself… For reals this time xx

Saturday, 31 May 2014

SIBO Update

It’s been about a month since I finished my SIBO meds - to recap I was taking a Rifaximin + Metronidazole combo three times a day for two weeks. In the lead up to the meds I adopted low FODMAPS on top of the strict paleo I have been doing. Before and during treatment I was eating autoimmune paleo protocol but as I mentioned in my last blog post, I did have a few cheats during treatment (I have provided plenty of links throughout my blog on these particular ways of eating and dietary modifications if you require more info).

After I finished my round of meds I realised that starches don’t agree with me, sweet potato and parsnip had to go (bloated and fatigued soon after eating). I’m still ok with carrots and pumpkin thankfully! I figured these things out doing an eliminate and challenge process as outlined in my favourite book by Aglaee Jacobs, Digestive Health with Real Food. Chris Kresser also touches on it in his book, Personal Paleo Code (there are other sources but these are my favourite two). So I've kinda ended up at the specific carbohydrate diet by default, which turned me towards SCD Lifestyle eBook which provided some more information and insight as to why I wasn’t tolerating many foods well and gave me more knowledge on how/when to introduce foods.

Food

Currently this is what my safe food zone looks like (the guys over at SCD Lifestyle explain what this is in their book in more detail). Keep in mind it’s very different for everyone.

Safe foods, as far as I can tell, I can tolerate:
Meat - chicken, fish, beef, lamb, turkey (pork is not listed as I simply don’t like it)
Oils - Coconut, Olive, Infused Olive, Macadamia nut (in small doses) and occasionally red palm oil
Vegetables - Carrot, pumpkin, zucchini, spinach, silverbeet, summer squash
Fruit - Coconut water, kiwifruit, oranges, lemons, lime
Misc - Coconut cream (1/3 of a tin), gelatine, herbs (fresh and dried), salt

Pretty much what you read is what I eat. In the coming weeks I will be trialling: broccoli, green beans, butternut squash, bok choy, blueberries, eggs and ghee; trying one food at a time for three days and introducing the next food if I have no symptoms. If I do have symptoms, waiting till they ease before trying another food.

Supplements

I’m currently taking:
Digestive Support: Digestzymes by Designs for Health, Prescript Assist probiotic, L-Glutamine
MTHFR: My Doctor had special day and night multi made up for me with vitamins and minerals to support detoxification as well as types of folate and B12 my body could utilise.
Bowel Function: Magnesium Glycinate by Designs for Health, low dose compounded erythromycin (a follow up from the SIBO meds to prevent reinfection).
I've introduced these one at a time. In the coming weeks I want to try lauricidin (derived from coconut oil and helps busts biofilm in the gut), will add in saccharomyces boulardii (a probiotic yeast) and I will also add probiotic foods such as homemade coconut yogurt and sauerkraut. 

Symptoms

Fatigue, bloating, constipation and gut pains are gone (probably a lot to do with the strict diet as well), I still get nausea but it’s less frequent and not as random as it was. Cravings have decreased, the first week was the hardest. I get tired still but not the deep fatigue I used to get. I still struggle with acne and depression and am trying to pinpoint triggers for these (stress and chocolate being two of them, lack of sleep being another, not enough time outside also contributes). Unfortunately I did have a major flare in my skin after the meds, which upset me as I had read that after treating SIBO roughly 92% of people notice better skin. I've read a few stories of people having a hard time with symptoms after a course of  Metronidazole, as it's known to be particularly potent at killing good bacteria as well (and the cheats I had probably didn't help). 

My muscle and joint pain has decreased and while I still have brain fog its nowhere near as frustrating as it was. I still have a hard lump in the right side of my tummy that I believe is due to the blastocystis that I’m still working on eradicating (more info on that in previous posts and more coming up).

Take home points:
  • Have a strict protocol when coming off antibiotics (medical or herbal) to prevent reinfection
  • Don’t expect all your symptoms to go away straight away
  • Address dysbosis and leaky gut
  • Add in lifestyle factors like sleep, fresh air, social time and joy
  • Hot baths, meditation and journal writing help a lot
  • Keep a food diary/symptom tracker
  • Be patient, it took you awhile to get sick so it will take awhile to get well
  • Reach out to others who are going through the journey, forums and Facebook groups can be a good tool
  • Move, gently, daily
  • Prepare for set backs
  • And when you start feeling better, you might want to re-read this to prevent sabotaging yourself: The Glass Wall Mistake

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Treating SIBO

AKA Bugs be gone!

I won’t go too much into what SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) is in this post as I’ve covered it a few times before, main one being HEREI’ve also shared THIS LINK from the guys at SCD Lifestyle which has a great video and audio to explain it further. If you want the brief overview, Aglaee Jacob has a great blog post HERE.

Choosing which way to go

As I alluded to in my last post on SIBO, I’d had a visit with my GP where we discussed possible medication options for treatment of SIBO. I’d tried once before with a basic broad spectrum antibiotic but my symptoms remained: constipation, bloating, constant reactions to food, acne, brain fog, fatigue and nausea. 

I was initially put off due to the cost (one of the two drugs is not covered by the government medical system), as well as the fact I’d spent a decent amount of money on unsuccessful drugs for blastocystis last year - so I was hesitant. But when I started working with my health coach, Angie Alt, she advised me that due to the nature of my symptoms and the duration of my stomach issues, that the meds were the best way to go. Herbal antibiotics are also an option but they take longer, aren’t anymore cost effective, aren’t always more gentle and they effectiveness is slightly less. Also, with constipation predominant SIBO, it can be more stubborn to treat.

I still believe a large part of the reason my endeavours in eradicating blastocystis were ineffective largely because of the bacterial overgrowth in my gut holding up the works! So I was ready to tackle it head on.

Meds and Diet

With Angie’s help I got my prescription for Rifaximin (the usual first line medication for SIBO) and Metronidazole to make the whole process more effective. Neomyocin is also used but Angie and I decided on a Rifaximin + Metronidazole combo and my GP was happy with that option too.

If you’ve read any of my posts on diet you know that I’m a fan of JERFINGI’ve tinkered in the PALEO AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL and I’m a big fan of Aglaee Jacobs GUT HEALING PROTOCOL and had a pretty good idea of WHAT FOODS WORK FOR MEAlong with this I’d also recently reduced FODMAPS in my diet to help relieve pain and bloating. 

I had a few cheats during my treatment as I’ve read that it’s beneficial to have some fermentation in the gut when you’re trying to treat SIBO. So I had a few extra serves of sweet potato, some dark chocolate and a few fruit/nut bars (things I usually avoid) during my 2 weeks or treatment. I found on these days the side affects were actually lessened… Maybe because the meds had something to work on? I don’t really know. 

After treatment I realised that starches don’t really agree with me and due to fatigue I thought it would be a good idea to drop coffee and chocolate for awhile… So I’ve found myself doing a low FODMAPS, no dairy, no nuts, low fruit version of the specific carbohydrate diet. The book I’ve found most helpful for this is the eBook by the SCD Lifestyle guys OVER HEREElaine Gottschall’s book Breaking the Vicious Cycle is the original book on the subject and still full of great info. I like this approach as you start with an intro diet and then very, very slowly add foods in one at a time to create your own customised diet. Aglaee Jacob has a similar approach in her book, Digestive Health with Real Food.

Results

The first week of taking the meds I had more energy than I had in ages, I was delighted! But as the drugs built up in my system I started to feel pretty unwell, nothing I was unfamiliar with but intense and I was unable to shift it - so I just rode it out and my health coach assured me I’d feel ok again once I’d completed my course of meds. 

It took a few days for the brain fog and heaviness to clear, and it’s still early days, but I’m feeling better. I’m not in as much pain, I have more energy, I have less nausea, bathroom visits are more predictable and I don’t rely on strong laxatives, enemas or colonics to relive symptoms anymore. My diet is still restricted and I’m taking a few things for gut healing including: multivitamins specific to my MTHFR mutation, l-gluatmine, probiotics (prescript assist), digestive enzymes and magnesium. I’m also taking a low dose antibiotic, erythromycin, nightly to prevent reinfection.

I think this is the main step many people miss, strict diet, gut healing and ensuring bowel function to prevent a relapse - which is usually and unfortunately quite common!

Angie’s help was pivotal during this whole process. I’d done way too much research and had almost paralysed myself with too many options. She was there to guide me through my bad days (she had been down this road twice already) and was there for encouragement on my good days. The journey can be tough, and lonely! And with so many doctors and professionals out of the loop on gut issues it’s really important to find someone you trust and can relate to, to ensure your success. 

Below are some of Angie’s blog posts on SIBO, personal experience and an overview of a recent SIBO symposium. All good stuff so dive in!








From here I’ll continue with my gut healing protocol and strict diet for 3 months, slowly doing some food reintroductions as my gut begins to heal and I can tolerate more things. I’m still struggling with some skin issues but I’m hoping as I build up the good bacteria in my tummy and continue to fight inflammation they’ll soon be a thing of the past too. I’m still struggling with some adrenal fatigue which shows up in shakes, nausea and spaciness when I don’t make sleep a priority. So still a ways to go but I feel a lot more in control of my symptoms and now feel like I’m playing an active role in the process - not just being a passive passenger on a ride my body was taking me on.

So there you go, my adventures in SIBO!
K xx

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Glass Wall Mistake That Everyone Seems To Make...

...and how to avoid it!

This come into my inbox last week, I've read it over and over and wanted to share because it's awesome and I'm totally guilty of it an usually unaware. It's from the guys over at http://scdlifestyle.com/ and written by Steven Wright (thanks Steve, ya legend!)

Each week there is a theme in our consulting practice.  This past week the theme was loud and clear and I hope you can learn from it.  Here's how almost all of my consults started.
 
Me:  "How have you been feeling?"
Becky:  "I'm frustrated and sad.  This last week has been awful.  My skin is breaking out, I can't sleep and my energy is gone.  Not to mention my stools are super loose again.  I'm not sure what's going on.  I think we need to make some changes..."
Me:  "Really, well how were you feeling the week before?"
Becky:  "I was feeling amazing!  Seriously, what we were doing was working so well.  It's just not working now.  Well, I mean it was working until..."

What follows the until is a very common set of mistakes that leads to what I like to call the 'Glass Wall Mistake' of Healing.

How to Make Sure You Have a Setback
 
As the self-proclaimed king of setbacks, I feel like I should tell you exactly how to do it.  It's actually wicked easy.
The very simple formula has one pre-requisite; be dedicated and working hard to get your health back (and it's actually beginning to work).  At this point please follow these steps:
  1. Smile because you are feeling better
  2. Make a list of all the things you have been wanting to do now that you're not sick
  3. Choose at least 2 (for best results 4) from the list and do them all in the same week
And BAM!  About 2 days later you'll be in a full-fledged setback and maybe, if you really do it up, a flare.
Of course, no one really wants a setback.  So how does it actually happen?
 
The Real Life Mistake Pattern
 
This common mistake pattern is pretty easy to see in other people once you do it yourself, which is why after talking to 5 out of 8 clients I immediately knew the questions to ask to reveal this simple pattern.
Here's how it works in real life:
You are making progress, the diet and supplements are working great, and you begin feeling better and better.  You start thinking, wow this might actually fix me!
With your newfound energy and mental clarity, you begin to dream about life before sickness.  It's only natural after all this pain and suffering.  Then, sure enough you get invited out 2 times this weekend.  And you sign up for that new fancy gym in town, because you FINALLY feel like you can workout again.  What a great week it's turning out to be!
Your exercise class is great, you're making new friends and you have a few excursions this weekend.
It's Saturday morning and after coffee with a friend you're feeling awesome.  That night you're feeling so good you don't really hassle the waiter into making sure the food is perfect.  You feel too good and are laughing too much to be bothered by this.
And low and behold you don't actually feel bad after dinner - Hooray!
The next day (Sunday), you go for a run and decide to add a few more foods into your diet.
By Monday, you're in denial that your stools aren't perfect and you go to the gym again.  Tuesday rolls around and it smacks you in the face.  You feel awful!
Has this story ever happened to you?
 
Why It's Called 'The Glass Wall Mistake'
I like to explain the story above using the following analogy...
You're in your house working hard to get healthy.  You're starting to feel great and you finally decide to re-emerge from your break from the real world because you feel so good.
You open the door and the sun is shining and the birds are singing.  You can't take it any longer; you have to get out there.
So you take off sprinting right out into the sunshine and BOOM - you smack right into a glass wall just outside your door!
It hurts like hell and you feel like crap, so you crawl back into your house, sulking.
 
What is This Mysterious Glass Wall?
The glass wall that almost all of us sprint right into at some point is our upper health limit.
Over time, the glass wall will move further away from your house and one day disappear.  But for now it sets the limit of how far your newly discovered health can actually be pushed.
The cool thing is you can learn to see it now that you know it's there.
That's my hope in doing this post; I don't want people sprinting into walls and causing setbacks.
 
How to Avoid This Mistake
Honestly, it's very hard; the trick is to not be in a hurry to make up for lost time.
As you begin feeling better and better, make sure to ease back into your life.  Take it one week at a time.  Of course, get out of the house and be more social, but don't expand your diet at the same time.
Sure, start going back to the gym, but not 7 days a week.
Most importantly, stick with the principles you've followed to get to feeling this good.
The hardest thing to do is WALK when your body, mind and heart are urging you to run.
But trust me, if you can remember to walk first, you'll be sprinting in no time and you won't hit any glass walls.
 
By Steve Wright

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Real Path to Health (youtube share)

Just stumbled across this gem that's been waiting in my youtube 'to watch' list for a few weeks now. Two amazing and grounded ladies (Amaali Shaw and Stacey Barnes) chat about weight, wellness, food and the real path to health. Rings true for me right now so I thought I'd share, only 30 minutes long and worth the watch of you're at the start of this path or you've hit a road block:

The Real Path to Health

Hint* it's NOT eat less and exercise more... ;-) 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Round Up and Resources

It’s been awhile, mainly because I haven’t known where to start or what to share. I’ve been busy working a crazy new work schedule with hours all over the map; realising the depth of my adrenal fatigue and seeing it’s effects on my energy… Stimulants no longer work so I have to actually slow down and fix it! Now, there’s an idea ;-) 

Been feeling really disheartened honestly, feeling like I’ve made no progress and had nothing of value to share. Overwhelm has also been present, still just have so many issues going on and have been trying to connect the dots and deciding what to address first. I had a good few months after the last round of antibiotics but it feels like I’ve regressed, feeling like I did 6 months ago and it’s not a fun place to be.

I’ve been taking supplements for the MTHFR gene mutation, started working out again (kind of), been taking adrenal support and trying to keep my diet as basic as possible to avoid reactions (semi successful). I haven’t taken any pharmaceutical meds (apart from pramin for nausea and a very occasional temazepam for sleep) since December as I wanted to give my gut a break. 

My GP wants me to do the ALCAT test for food reactivity but at $550 I’m putting it on the back burner. I’ve read varied reviews on it and I haven’t read anything solid about the accuracy of it’s results - so I’ll leave that as a plan B.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth has taken the forefront (SIBO), it’s nastier than I first expected. There are so many foods I can no longer tolerate, constant brain fog, bloating and tummy pains. Sleep is up and down, nausea comes and goes and constipation and acne are still constant. Thankfully I’ve found a great health coach who I’m working with on this issue specifically (Angie Alt). 

My coach has been wonderful so far and I’m hopeful, but after 2 strong rounds of antibiotics for Blastocystis that didn’t work I’m a little doubtful. I guess I don’t want to set myself up to be disappointed again. But Angie has travelled this road twice before herself and working with someone who has done the hard yards, not just read about them, is reassuring. 

So today, instead of sharing my own views and researching I wanted to collate a page of all the resources I’ve found invaluable the last few months in hopes that it may save you some time and hopefully assist you in connecting your own dots.

Blastocystis



SIBO

The #1 site for the latest SIBO info:

The most recent and in-depth podcast I’ve listened to on SIBO:

Angie Alt at Alt-Ternative Autoimmune has a great personal take on SIBO:





(There's more to come on this so keep following Angie’s blog for updates)

Recommendations from The Paleo Mom:



Aglaee Jacobs:

And a great overview from the guys over at SCD Lifestyle:

Leaky Gut
The Paleo Mom:



SCD Lifestyle:

FODMAPS

The Paleo Mom:

Aglaee Jacobs:

MTHFR

Angie Alt:

Ben Lynch:




Adrenal Fatigue




My Favourite Books 

The Paleo Approach By Sarah Ballantyne 


Personal Paleo Code By Chris Kresser 

Eat, Move and Be Healthy By Paul Chek

And with that, I’m on a health coach imposed research fast while I focus on dealing with this SIBO issue with a course of meds and staying dedicated to an autoimmune paleo protocol (long version here) or (short version here) with low FODMAPS for at least 30 days, 3 months depending on how I go reintroducing foods. 

Wish me luck and I’ll try and do a better job of blog updates in the coming weeks x