This is my healing journey.
I found an old journal that I started keeping about my healing reactions and what I was going through when I first started this path to natural health. It was a rough road, especially because I went through all of this without the help of anyone- there was still limited info back then on the healing crisis.
I read every article or book I could find on natural healing but there were not many that really explained the process or how to get through it. The only things I really found helpful were to learn how to recognize healing vs worsening- luckily I ALWAYS had amazing days after the worse days so that kept me reassured. I had started eating more organic/ less processed at this time but I was still vegetarian, mostly low fat and low sodium- so it wasn’t ideal for me.
I’ve come a LONG way in nearly 5 years (with a pregnancy thrown in there to shake things up a bit!)
What I was dealing with for 4-5 months prior to starting my natural healing journey: I had been having severe gut pain, muscle spasms that went from my throat to my knees because of the intensity, I had been in the ER 3 times in as many months because of the stomach pain and because of how my heart rate would rise when the spasms got really bad (now I know all of this was because of a hiatal hernia! I didn’t figure that out until long after these issues stopped.) For 3-4 months during this time I lived off of a handful of foods because I couldn’t handle much without pain. I was on a PPI for a few months and the side effects of that was what prompted me to finally try a different route!
So here is what I did:
July 2, 2012 started aloe vera juice 2x a day
July 4th started ACV 3 x a day with meals
July 6th– started my period for the first time in 3 months
July 10th woke up with extremely sore throat, coughed up gunk and some blood for 2 days; sleeping so soundly for the first time in years. Started to notice a cycle- first, emotional symptoms would happen, usually anxiety or depression (major crying! Knowing what I know now, I am positive this was the calcium shell breaking- I also had myofascial knots that started disappearing with magnesium, so I am certain that I had excess calcium built up). Then after a few hours, physical symptoms would start- fuzzy eye sight, frequent BMs ( I started going 4-5 times a day for a few months, after only ever going once a day my whole life).
7/22 started digestive healing- I experienced everything that I had just been going through for 6 months. Increased acid reflux, esophageal spasms, bloating, constipation, tightness in stomach- lasted about 3 days and the it all disappeared again.
7/30 I felt good all day until 7Pm- then I experienced the symptoms that had triggered my extreme gut issues. Anxiety, then severe esophageal spasms, heart palps, chills, and frequent bathroom trips (now I know this was a vasovagal response!) I was scared at first as these episodes used to last for hours, but I managed to get it all to stop in 15 minutes- that is how I figured it was a healing crisis and not a flare up. Nothing I did before would stop them, but this time I could. I slept like a rock and felt amazing in the morning! (Exactly what a healing crisis does- flare up, then you feel great!) My healing reactions started to last only a few minutes or hours instead of a few days or a week.
8/3 Extreme exhaustion most of the day, took a nap. Colon was grumbling the whole day and I expelled lots of mucus and a little bit of blood (freaked me out but only happened once- luckily I trusted my instincts that it was just cleansing!)
8/5 Felt better than I had in years. Barely had any pain, no spasms, lots of energy and a clear mind
8/6 slept almost 9 hours straight, felt exhausted. Took a hot shower and went for a walk in the heat for an hour but it made me dehydrated and weak so I took a nap, still felt bad. Had coconut water, avocado, and a sandwich with tons of spinach- finally felt better
Symptoms I experienced in order:
sore throat, fatigue, brown/red mucus, increased normal BMs (2-5 a day), increased urination, blurry vision (for the first whole month I started detoxing), better sleep on days after healing crisis, but worse sleep on the day before, colon grumbling, reflux, spasms, tightness in chest and stomach, heart palps, anxiety, depression, acne breakouts, eczema, extra joint pain, headaches, and increased muscle tension.
Over the next few months, I kept changing my lifestyle. I ate as clean as I could because as I learned about artificial ingredients and pesticides I started to cut those things out of my diet. I started magnesium as well which was the big helper for me for my “fibromyalgia” (nice try doctors, try giving it a real name like Magnesium Deficiency). I cut down on my environmental toxins as well. I stopped dying my hair, I threw out all of my makeup and perfumes, I switched my cleaners from toxic junk to just vinegar and baking soda. I made a LOT of changes in only about 6 months.
I managed to lose more weight (total weight loss over the course of a year was 100 pounds), get rid of ALL of my muscle and joint pain, I had more energy, I was sleeping well almost every night, my cycles were regular with barely any cramps, my brain was clear, my eyes were bright, my hair and skin were the healthiest they have ever been. I still had a bit of fatigue here and there but I knew with time that it would get better.
However, before I feel like I could fully heal, I got pregnant! We were not trying, but it was a shock how easily I became pregnant especially when I had a doctor tell me I would never get pregnant (once again, thanks docs! Spot on!) I totally account my ability to get pregnant on the fact that I had cleaned up my life so much in less than 10 months- the magnesium especially seemed to have helped a lot with my hormones. (You can read more about why I switched to a holistic lifestyle here.)
And now here I am now
My son is 3 years old. I felt ok after his birth but ended up with mastitis when he was a month old and I took the antibiotics that were offered to me. Big mistake. My gut (and his) just shut down. Luckily he bounced back after some probiotics, but it took months for me to figure out how to heal mine. Gelatin and strong probiotics, along with a gluten free diet helped immensely. But I was still suffering from many ailments- anxiety, paranoia, depression, insomnia, exhaustion, and brain fog.
Thank goodness it only took a few more months to stumble upon mineral balancing. Everything clicked when I started reading about copper imbalances. I was vegetarian for nearly 5 years (meat disgusted me- which is a sign of low stomach acid and a copper imbalance), all of my health issues started with the birth control pill (which I didn’t realize at the time and I stayed on it for a few years), plus I was living the “standard American lifestyle”, and I had a very stressful, abusive childhood. Nearly everything that I had experienced had depleted me of all of my nutrients!
My Experience with Copper
The first month on my protocol nearly all of my issues disappeared, but I experienced a lot of copper dumping. After the second month, I started declining and just chocked it up to copper dumping (since I was under the impression that copper was a bad thing at the time). But I kept getting worsening symptoms- a mental detachment, fatigue, anger, and anxiety at times. I had many panic attacks and had a few times where I genuinely thought I was going insane- which is unfortunately a common occurrence with copper dumping as copper comes out of the brain.
I WAS copper dumping but now I believe that it wasn’t because the copper was toxic- I think it was because it wasn’t bioavailable. I stayed on zinc for 4 months (and not even at the dose my practitioner wanted me on- I was only taking 7mg and he recommended 30!) before I decided to try a different approach, especially when it started to give me extreme panic attacks (the last time I took it I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin, and actually begged my husband to take me to the hospital- luckily he calmed me down and that day I realized how isolated nutrients are NOT the answer, especially long term). Plus, the more you learn about copper, the more you realize how it is NOT the bad guy- bioavailable copper is an antioxidant, important for ATP energy production, brain health, and tons of other things.
This experience made me realize that while yes we are all different, taking high amounts of isolated nutrients can HARM you. That is why I am so adamant in my stance- because I know what they COULD do to people. My whole purpose is to prevent this from happening to other people.
I suffered for about a year and a half with more fatigue, brain fog, mental detachment, and weight gain. Luckily, I didn’t have the anxiety, paranoia, or mood swings like I had the last year- those all only popped up with certain times of the month or If I was copper dumping. I just kept chasing certain individual nutrients that I was deficient in and hoping that it would be the “missing link”.
It wasn’t until I started using FOOD as my medicine that I started noticing a difference.
That was when it really clicked with me that nutrients have co factors and they exist together in food for a reason- because that is how they are supposed to work! If you are deficient in 10 nutrients, taking 10 supplements will not do you any good. (It might for a short amount of time but eventually it can lead to other imbalances). Read my entry on why I think food is better than supplements for more on this.
My other missing links were focusing on liver and adrenals. We can get so caught up in just trying to fix the deficiencies that we don’t realize some of our organs can’t keep up with the stress of everyday life. If our adrenal function is way too low (per an HTMA), then they cannot function properly. They NEED something to help take the stress off. Glandulars or adaptogens are good choices for many people- but there may need to be some experimenting to see what works right for your body.
Love your livers!
Once I started adding in liver care, I started finally sleeping again which was the biggest step in my healing. Castor oil packs were the biggest help. Dandelion tea, coffee enemas (only once a week), and now I like Herb Pharm Liver Health. It is important to find what works best for YOU as we will all react differently.
Then after a few months I added in the rest of the protocol for myself: Symplex F (a glandular for the female endocrine system), beef liver powder, bee pollen, more whole food vitamin C, more fat, and most recently, taurine. Finally I am feeling human again! It has been hard trying to heal while being the main care giver of a very rambunctious toddler but I understand my journey. I can see purpose in my pain and suffering- I want to help others get out of the health rut they are in.
Why I don’t believe in most isolated supplements
While it may be “normal” to just take 100 supplements while healing from adrenal fatigue that is not the best way. It just isn’t-sorry to those that disagree. There may be times when a certain nutrient in isolation can be helpful for someone but as a general recommendation, it makes more sense to find nutrient dense foods and food-based supplements from refutable companies. That is how nature intended us to heal and that is why nutrients are found together in foods. It is much more sustainable and reasonable to maintain this regime as well.
Taking one isolated nutrient can create a huge cascade of changes in the body- and it could be an immediate reaction, it could take a few months, or it could take a few decades! This is where individualized testing comes into play. It is extremely important to know all of your levels of minerals before embarking on this healing journey so you don’t create even more imbalances. HTMA takes a lot of the guesswork out of healing. And I’ve heard from some people, “well the basic protocol seems to be the same for everyone, so I’m just going to follow that and not get tested.” Wouldn’t you rather have the peace of mind that you are actually needing all of these things first before wasting your money and time on supplements?
I made the mistake of going the route of supplements first before testing and I regret it so much. It made me much worse and by the time I did get tested, my adrenals were very low and it made it so much harder to heal. I try so hard to use my personal experience coupled with the knowledge I have learned because there are a lot of people that are like me- dealing with a dozen deficiencies and imbalances at once. We have to change our way of thinking when it comes to natural health. To me, taking a dozen isolated nutrients seems like a very allopathic approach!
So this is my story and why I am the way that I am. I know not everyone will agree with me but hey- every practitioner has their own views and experiences. The old-school way is no longer helping people because we are MUCH different biochemically now than people were 20 years ago.