Getting Healthier Now

A Blog About Digestive Health

Tag: nervous system

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.

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 with iodine in higher doses, others say to avoid it 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!live streaming film Victor Frankenstein 2015

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.

 

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