Getting Healthier Now

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Uh-oh… Copper Deficiency Mimics Low B-12

It’s been quite a health adventure the last year or more, and you can read a quick update here. I had thought correcting a B-12 deficiency was all I needed to reclaim my health, but things got a bit more complicated.

It turns out copper deficiency can mimic low B-12, with many of the same symptoms of neurodegeneration, fatigue, skin inflammation and joint pain, due to disruption of collagen. I’ve been losing bone mass and developing arthritis – these are also signs of low copper. Here’s a full list of symptoms I’ve had during the last year.

The prevailing naturopathic attitude is we’re all copper toxic, so few of us would believe we could be deficient. Compounding the likelihood in an otherwise healthy population are corporate farming practices. Copper-rich foods simply can’t be grown in depleted soil. And sadly, few doctors ever think of copper deficiency when doing differential diagnosis. I’ve never once had copper levels tested by a physician, despite years of GI problems.

What’s most unsettling – unlike B-12 where there’s a fair amount of lag-time between low serum levels and permanent harm – copper deficiency neurodegeneration often cannot be reversed with supplementation. What does get repaired, eventually, may take months – or even years – of repletion. You can imagine my shock after reading this.

wake-up

Next, I looked up dietary sources of copper. Due to my food intolerances I wasn’t eating any copper-rich foods. Couple this with years of gut inflammation, malabsorption, and regardless of any testing I might do with my doctor, it was clear I needed to supplement with a modest 2 mg of copper soon, just based on my symptoms and diet.

The proper way to take it is in combination with zinc. Too much zinc will deplete copper, so a proper balance is important. Also worth noting is colloidal silver, if taken orally or by IV, can deplete copper, sometimes with dramatic results. This may have happened with me a few years ago after taking colloidal silver for SIBO.

The good news is a few short days after I started taking 2 mg copper my eyesight was much sharper, mood and cognition improved a bit, and I got a noticeable reduction in fatigue. A week later I increased my dose to 4 mg, plus 30 mg zinc, and noticed less joint pain and stiffness. Shortly thereafter, my skin began feeling less fragile. Perhaps my collagen synthesis has been improving, and I may be correcting an anemia due to this deficiency.

Copper is also essential to keep blood vessels and arteries flexible and strong, which could explain my increased vericose veins and petechiae in the last year. It’s thought most cases of aortic rupture are preventable if people get adequate copper in food.

My face has had a red glow for the last couple of years, in recent months my chest and abdomen, and sometimes even my whole body has, too. This flushing could be due to histamine intolerance, and it’s important to note copper (along with B-6 and vitamin C) is required to create DAO enzyme to break down histamine. Sure enough, one thing I noticed after a few weeks supplementation is I’m no longer flushed from head to toe most of the day. Perhaps eventually I’ll be able to tolerate some higher histamine foods.

Given the risk of nervous system damage from long term deficiency, I decided not to wait for testing before supplementing with safe amounts. My plan is to stay at 4 mg copper daily with 30 mg zinc (which is what healthy people get in a copper-rich diet) until I can schedule hair analysis and serum tests to determine the correct protocol for repletion.

Where I’m still hoping to see improvement is more subtle, which appears to be low dopamine. Given its effect on brain health, copper is required to generate important neurotransmitters. Among other things, low dopamine (key to reward and accomplishment) was probably making it tough to update this blog for the last 16 months. With that said, onward and upward.

How many of us diagnosed and treated for B-12 deficiency are also copper deficient? If any of this sounds familiar, please join us in the comments section, and share your own story.

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.

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!

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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!

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More Whipworm for Ulcerative Colitis Flare

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 30 — The long view.

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

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

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

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

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

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