Getting Healthier Now

A Blog About Digestive Health

Tag: fight or flight

A Long-overdue GHN Update

Since my last post here, many months ago, I got short term improvement from B-12 shots, but my serum levels were sky high and my doctor suggested I stop the injections. After an initial bounce I crashed, and began to have widespread inflammatory and neuroinflammatory issues. He theorized this may have been triggered by saturation with B-12. My serum B-6 was also quite high, despite never supplementing it.

A methylmalonic acid test was elevated, so after being off it for a few months, I continued to take 2,500 mcg oral B-12 and requested referral to a specialist who could check for genetic issues with methylation, but as my neck and back became more inflamed, and cognitive problems worsened, I was instead sent to a neurologist, who did a full workup: brain MRI, a soft-tissue MRA, hearing tests due to increasing tinnitus, a carotid artery test, and an EEG.

Other than a few white matter brain lesions (no change since a 2008 MRI) which may be congenital, these new tests were inconclusive. While I do have some degenerative changes to my cervical spine, autonomic dysfunction was the neurologist’s primary diagnosis. At this point, my symptoms were growing – you can read a list of them here.

A few weeks later, I saw a neurosurgeon and explained how pressing in various places on my neck, the base of my skull, and near the mastoid process behind my right ear, could often improve my autonomic issues. He pointed out a Chiari Malformation on my brain MRI but said “we don’t operate to fix dysautonomia”, which was yet another blind alley. I’ve yet to see an autonomic specialist for non-surgical treatment of this.

Flushing, at first just a red glow on my face, then eventually from near head to toe, has also been happening for about 14 months. My doctor tested for Carcinoid, and so far results don’t indicate it, which is a relief. Instead this may be related to a  mast cell disorder. I’ve learned certain kinds of flushing, even the rosacea which I have, can be caused by neurological problems.

What’s the root cause? It’s likely multifactoral, but nerve damage from repeated doses of fluoroquinolone antibiotics over the years, like Cipro and Levaquin, likely plays a huge role.  It was after a final dose of Levaquin in 2008 that I developed symptoms of hyperadrenergic POTS – primarily a vagus nerve malfunction – which triggers heat intolerance, trouble handling physical and emotional stress, and orthostatic intolerance.

However, these antibiotics did more than nerve damage, they wrecked my gut flora, and POTS is now thought to be autoimmune.

The best I’ve felt in recent years was while I hosted hookworm (small therapeutic doses) and did fecal transplants. Both of these protocols may boost vagus nerve tone, by lowering inflammation in the gut and boosting signaling from the enteric nervous system back to the brain, the “rest and digest” parasympathetic, which works opposite of “fight or flight” sympathetic.

My doctor suggested I try probiotics and hookworm again because he noted they seemed to help me, so I’ve been taking VSL#3 daily, plus Miyarisan tablets, which contain c. butyricum, and 15 weeks ago I did a dose of 50 necator americanus. While the initial side effects of helminthic therapy were rough, with spikes noted in blood work for eosinophils, I’m now feeling more benefits than allergic response, including no more asthma, healthier sinuses, and a big improvement of ulcerative colitis.

Concurrent with this, I remembered how good I felt one Summer when sunbathing for 15 minutes a day. I’ve had chronically low vitamin D and low testosterone. Sun exposure boosts both. I started laying out at noon each day a few months ago and it has been a great mood lifter. I also find I have better sleep quality when I get my daily 15 minutes. To discuss light therapy, its effect on mood, hormonal production and balancing sleep/wake cycles, join us here on Facebook.

I wanted to cover all the bases, and since sinusitis has been an ongoing problem for me, too, with green mucus indicative of staph colonization, I’ve begun daily rinses, which you can read about here. Two weeks later the mucus is thinning and has no color. I credit both the hookworm treatment and rinses to this recovery. Reducing sinus inflammation has improved anxiety, and my sleep is deeper. There’s a theory sinus inflammation from gram negative sinus flora can generate lipopolysaccharide (a potent inflammatory molecule) which in turn triggers brain inflammation.

Waking in the night gasping for air has been a problem during these last few months, and while I was scheduled for a sleep study I noticed a sudden improvement after a few days of sunbathing. There’s a vitamin D and sleep apnea correlation, mainly with regard to metabolic activity, so it’s possible Sun is good medicine for it. While I still have some brain fog, my mind feels sharper while sunbathing and I’m no longer waking at night. Since obstruction of upper airways can also contribute to apnea, sinus rinses are likely helping, too.

I’ve also been to see an oral surgeon after my dentist thought I could have dental infections contributing to fatigue and cognitive problems, but an oral surgeon did a panoramic x ray and said it looked fine. He noted sinus inflammation and recommended I keep doing my daily rinses.

I feel fortunate testing was able to rule out a lot, but if you see a pattern here, it’s that each protocol has helped a little – yet nothing has totally solved – what first appeared to be symptoms of low B-12. Now, just in the last month, I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out a key factor, and it may be a different deficiency, with very similar presentation.

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, , , food intolerance, asthma, , 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 , , and . 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, . 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. was helpful, but not something I wanted to take longer term. I heard about 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 .

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.

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 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 as much to relieve . 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. cheap phentermine The vagal nerve is working now, which is intriguing! Was candida ? 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, .

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 .

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

To be .

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. . . 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 , or by purchasing any product linked in articles. It costs you nothing extra, and helps me continue writing. Thanks!

IBD and Vagus 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, GERD, 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, even worse GERD, panic attacks/anxiety, and finally fibromyalgia-like pain and 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 (the reverse of a normal alignment, called lordosis) .

What’s the inflammation connection? The vagus (also called ‘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. For a cheaper, more portable option, try a NeckBone Pillow.

But what if we could do something similar with no equipment at all? 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 vagus 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 someone else on Facebook who had a skiing accident. She hurt her upper cervical spine, and has had POTS (the low blood pressure type) ever since.

This is certainly sad, especially given how little the allopathic doctors understand about hyperadrenergic POTS, UC or other forms of IBD — typically they are good at treating acute symptoms — but if permanent neck trauma is indeed part of a 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 gut flora (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! 

Day 25, signals from old friends…

Spring has come early, bringing with it high winds that fill the air with seasonal allergens. My body doesn’t like this time of year, but today I was on a roller coaster where my stuffy nose would suddenly clear up for no apparent reason. Hello, hookworm. I came in from a walk and lay in bed a while, taking note of how my body was reacting, and felt my parasympathetic nervous system activating, too. For those who are sympathetic-dominant like me, which is basically a tendency toward “fight or flight”, this flip-side (the relaxation circuit firing) can feel wonderful.

My sinus infection is finally healing now, and I’ve been inhaling a 30ppm solution of colloidal silver to treat a mild lung infection (triggered by the sinusitis). As a result, I’m now waking with signs of higher testosterone in the AM, and feeling increased mental clarity and express vpn steadiness. I have had low free testosterone and low LH (luteinizing hormone) on my last few blood tests, and this appears to be resolving, which is a relief. Low grade infections can often cause this, and the body doesn’t waste any time bouncing back as this type of physical stress is eliminated.

In terms of the hormonal balancing, I don’t want to ascribe all my improvements to one thing, be that the hookworm or the CS. It really seems to be a combination of each.

On the not so pleasant side of the ledger, I still have some tinnitus in my right ear, which may be a transient immune response triggered by the hookworm, or it could also just be left over middle ear dysfunction from my flu — sinus/ear related. I am also experiencing some insomnia, and epigastric pain for the first time since reinoculating with these 75 hookworm. This is simply a diffused ache in my upper and mid-abdomen — the same thing happened last May, if I recall, as the hookworm were developing.

All good signs, as far as I’m concerned.  Any indication my worms are ‘moving in’ puts me at ease. Here’s to accruing some benefits soon!