Summary Bio

I have a long list of illnesses (see it here). In 1995 at age fifteen I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (a disease of the large intestine), and I lived with it for seventeen years. In 2010, it spread and advanced to a severe diagnosis. I spent a year on a roller-coaster of intensive immunosuppressive drug therapies, only to end up requiring surgery to remove my large intestine and replace it with a j-pouch. After surviving three surgeries, I developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, the most debilitating illness of all. (Read "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis" and "The Spoon Theory" to understand more.) Below are the detailed accounts of my ups and downs on this journey.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nuts About SCD

I have a million things I need to catch up on around the house and on the computer that I REALLY should be getting to, but instead I'm sitting down to write this blog post because I can't help myself.  I have been so pumped about cooking on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) that I have to get it all written down.

I've been on the SCD diet for about a week and a half.  I've been using all organic, free-range, whole ingredients which has me feeling amazing.  I lost about ten pounds in my first week, and then as I added more fats and fruit to my diet during week two, I started to stabilize.  Keep in mind that the actual SCD diet calls for a very gentle intro stage for people with a lot of inflammation (Crohn's/Colitis), but since I don't have the bleeding, cramping, diarrhea, etc, I decided to skip the intro.  Therefore, some of what I was eating (whole nuts, dried fruit, certain veggies) are advanced stages of the diet meant to be introduced well after all symptoms disappear.  Here's what my diet looked like during week one:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (sometimes with spinach added) topped with melted cheddar and salsa.  Sometimes I would add avocado.
  • Lunch:  Wholesome stew.  I browned a pound of ground turkey and put it in the crockpot with celery, carrot, broccoli, zucchini, onion, cauliflower, and a whole jug of what is basically an organic version of V-8.  Nothing but nutrition in this puppy.  Served with melted grated cheddar on top.
  • Dinner:  Grilled chicken with sides of peas and acorn squash.
  • Snacks:  Apple chips, a handful of nuts, or a Larabar.

Then as I noticed how much weight I was losing, I tried finding ways to add more calories back in.  I started browsing Pinterest SCD recipes and getting inspired.  I started thinking about how to adapt some of my favorite comfort foods for SCD.  I joined an online SCD support group where I could turn to with questions, frustrations, or victories.  And I started getting pumped up about it.... and motivated to get creative in the kitchen.  And every creative recipe I tried turned out wildly successful, which has only fueled my enthusiasm.

First off, I should inform you that I am no whiz in the kitchen.  I know the basics, and I cook for only myself, so I generally don't have enough time or interest to get creative with the measuring cups and spatulas.  However, since SCD mandates that almost everything be made from scratch at home, I have been experimenting more in the last two weeks than I have in the last decade.

Most of the meals I've been making are not off of any specific recipe; they are just combinations of whole ingredients I already have in the house that sound like they would work.  Usually I get an inspiration off of some food photo or scrap of recipe and then change and adapt it to fit my needs.  Regardless of all this, everything I have made so far has turned out absolutely amazing.  Super tasty comfort foods that don't make me miss sugar or carbs at all.  In fact, I often can't even tell there's no sugar or grains in most of what I make.

I have found that with all the condiments and batters and mixtures and concoctions I'm making, having a high-quality, high-powered food processor makes things much easier and quicker in the kitchen, so yesterday I invested in a $200, 1500 watt, 2 horsepower Ninja food processor.  It comes with all the attachments I need for all my mixing, processing, and smoothing demands and has made a big difference.  If you're going to try this diet for any serious length of time, I would recommend getting something similar.
Becuase I'm already developing a collection of hit recipes less than two weeks in, I figure I should start a page on this blog of all my favorite SCD concoctions.  Below are some photos of a few of the meals I've made so far.  (I'm not photographing EVERY meal I make.)  If any of them look appetizing, look for the recipe in my new resource page called Favorite SCD Recipes.

Healthy, yummy snacks easy and in sight.

Grain-free pancakes with butter and homemade jam.
I made a huge stack of them, but this is all I could eat at once.

Zucchini Fries with homemade honey mustard dipping sauce - YUM!

Cheeseburger Casserole: childhood comfort food.

Homemade Ketchup - almost like Heinz!

Banana Bread Muffins - Serve warm with a little butter: DELISH!

Feel free to leave reactions and comments below...
  Previous Post                                                                                                             Next Post  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Serious About SIBO

The more I research and learn about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), the more I realize that various aspects of my complex medical situation created the perfect storm for this incredibly difficult-to-treat catastrophe to take place.  When I look at a list of potential SIBO causes, I can check off most of the items on the list: GI disease, GI surgery, post-op complications, long-term and repeated antibiotic use through the surgeries,  immunosuppressive prescription drugs, steroid prescription drugs, acid-blocking medications for my GERD, a high-carb diet for my j-pouch... all happening during the same one-year time period. I was a goner before I had ever even heard of SIBO.  Once I realized this, I wondered why no one had mentioned to me the possibility of developing this nightmarish condition.  It would have been nice to be prepared for this risk so that I could have tried to take some sort of preventative measures.  None of my three GI's, my primary care physician, nor my surgeon ever brought it up, and when I asked about what might be causing my symptoms and what to do about it, none of them knew much of anything about how SIBO works or how to treat it.  Then I realized that it's because western medicine in general knows practically nothing about it; of course they don't bring it up with patients.   So now that I know, here I am trying to spread the word to the public.  If you are going through any sort of GI distress, be sure you know how to prevent, recognize, and treat SIBO before it gets out of control, because once that happens, you are probably in for years of hardship trying to treat it.

But before we get into that, I should tell you that I recently was referred to a GI expert at UCSF for this
SIBO issue.  Her response was to run upper and lower endoscopies, biopsies, and an MRI to look for other causes including but not limited to celiac indicators or a stricture that could slow motility.
my rectal cuff showing cuffitis           ulcers on my j-pouch
Results of these tests showed a small hiatal hernia, ulcers on my j-pouch, cuffitis, two types of metaplasia in my ileus and j-pouch, and inflammation in my stomach, ileus, and j-pouch, but no celiac, stricture, or other markers she was looking for in reference to the SIBO.  I had a lot of questions for the doctor about these test results, but the only part she was concerned about was the cuffitis for which she prescribed Canasa.  (See our Q & A email exchange cut and pasted at the bottom of this post.)  Basically she discovered what my GI would have discovered anyway at my first annual scope but was no help with the SIBO issue.  So I have been continuing to rely on my own at-home research and treatment methods.

Every time I try to go on a restricted diet to treat my SIBO, not only do I have a difficult time restraining myself psychologically, but the physical pain and struggles in the bathroom that are caused by the increase in fiber eventually derail me, and I break down and grab something starchy that will calm down my j-pouch and relieve the misery, which in turn derails my SIBO treatment plan.  The dietary treatments for my two health issues work against each other, so it's been incredibly frustrating not knowing which direction to go, which means I've been doing a lot of yo-yo-ing back and forth... I go with one diet until I can't take the symptoms any more and switch to the other one.  Well now that I have identified the cuffitis as exacerbating if not causing some of my symptoms, I have been able to treat that piece at least using a different route.  Now that I seem to have the cuffitis mostly taken care of (Cortifoam worked much more quickly and easily than the Canasa), hopefully the fiber piece of that dietary battle will be a little easier.  So here I go again...

This time I'm preparing not for a short-term restrictive dietary treatment but for a serious long-term dietary/lifestyle change.  I've realized (after almost a year of failed attempts and further research) that treating this is going to require a much bigger commitment than I was previously willing to fork over. But at this point I know I'm left with practically no choice.
The "Vicious Cycle" of intestinal damage caused by
SIBO (from Breaking the Vicious Cycle)
From my recent research, I know that if I allow SIBO to go untreated, it will not only continue to plague me with worsening symptoms, but it will continue to damage my intestinal wall, causing irritation, inflammation, ulceration, and malabsorption.  I'm sure that's where my j-pouch ulcers came from, and I'm now convinced that's also what caused my iron levels to plummet me into full-blown anemia ten months AFTER the UC and surgeries were over.  The malabsorption issues would only get worse as my small intestine suffers further damage and as the bacteria grows and eats up more of my nutrient supply.  When the intestinal wall suffers enough damage, bacteria and larger food particles pass through to the blood supply which can cause your body to react in the form of fatigue and higher sensitivity to allergens (both of which I have been experiencing recently).

 I have been through so much the last few years, and I was under the impression that once I was on the other side of the surgeries, things would be okay again, and I could stop worrying about what I eat, what supplements I need, what medications I'm on, symptoms, side-effects, etc.  And today here I am, over a year out from surgery and still dealing with all that same bullshit, feeling helpless and hopeless.  It took me several days to come to accept the fact that I had potentially one to three years of very strict dietary restrictions ahead of me.  No cheating, no half-assing.  Apparently the only way I can get rid of this thing requires a very significant long-term commitment on my part that is sure to be filled with struggles, obstacles, and serious tests of will power on a daily basis that will even spill over into my social life.  It took me several days to come to accept this fact.  I did not like it one bit, and this threw me into a deep depression.  None of it seemed fair.  I knew that if I had any kind of shot, I needed to process these emotions until I came to a place of acceptance, but I just couldn't quite get myself there.... I had to pat myself on the back when I recognized that one of the first things I did was seek help: emailing a dietitian, asking an acquaintance for the name of a therapist, seeking out a local support group...  Still, my willingness to accept my situation was slow going until I had a long talk with my significant other.  Something about that conversation centered me and brought me back to what I need to focus on: moving forward.  Knowing that he was not only supportive and behind me one-hundred-percent but ready, willing, and even enthusiastic to jump in and gain the health benefits of eating the same way I will be (at least when we're together) did a lot for my confidence in my ability to succeed.

So now I'm gearing myself up.  I did some more research and found some interesting new information.  It turns out that probiotics are the least effective branch of treatment for SIBO and can sometimes do more harm than good (specifically the prebiotics that usually come in the probiotic products).  This is why I'm choosing to focus on the antimicrobial supplements that I listed in my last post and more importantly, diet.  Through my research I came across a doctor who seems to be one of the leading experts on SIBO, Dr Allison Siebecker (cited below).
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet
This book explains and outlines the
Specific Carbohydrate Diet
She recommends the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) as pretty much the best dietary plan out there for treating SIBO.  This is an eating plan I had tried very briefly for my UC in the past to no avail since my UC was too far gone by then, but I didn't realize until after I saw that recommendation that the diet was originally designed for SIBO, so I went back and took another look at the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle (cited below).  It's important to read the book before going on the diet since there is a lot to it, but in a nutshell the end result is to cut out all forms of sugars, sweeteners, starchy carbs, grains, starchy vegetables (including soy), and most dairy due to the lactose (hard, aged cheese is okay).  The only naturally sweet things allowed are limited amounts of fruit and honey.  The rules on this are very strict and even apply to trace amounts of sugars or sweeteners in condiments, marinades, dips, drinks, etc, since the bad bacteria will jump on any particle they can find.  For this reason any type of processed foods are pretty much out, so the diet consists mostly of natural, organic meats, vegetables, and healthy fats with a few nuts and fruits thrown in.

I'm getting ready to start the diet on Monday, so this weekend I'm having a farewell party for all my favorite processed junk foods.  Meanwhile, I've been browsing Pinterest for SCD-friendly meals, and I was very impressed with what's out there and excited to try some of the recipes I found.  (You can view my favorites here, but keep in mind that I have not reviewed all ingredients yet to ensure everything I pinned is completely SCD-friendly.)  Oh, and if any reader decides to try this diet for yourself, be sure to download the SCD Buddy app for easy on-the-go checking on which foods are legal.

One foreseeable obstacle with this plan I have not yet had a chance to attack is the fact that eating this way will require most of my food to be made from scratch at home (including most condiments), which will be incredibly time consuming.  I already have to schedule in extra hours for sleep every day due to my j-pouch waking me up throughout the night, and now I will need to add several hours a week of cooking on top of already feeling exhausted most of the time.  I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to designate more hours in my week to food prep yet, but I'm definitely going to need some go-to easy soups, salads, and stir-fries that I can pre-cook for my workday meals.  However, I will still have to spice things up with the new recipes on the weekends in order to keep from feeling too deprived or bored with the same simple meals every day.  Maybe my man and I will have to start turning date nights into prepping, baking, and cooking food at home instead of going out to eat.

One other thing I will have to keep in mind as I start down this path is that as I cut out my largest source of calories, I will have to be very careful of what I'm demanding of my body in the area of exercise.  I've been chomping at the bit to throw myself into running and weight-lifting and dancing classes and roller derby workouts... but have not been successful there either due to anemia, bronchitis, j-pouch symptoms, changing diets, etc.  Now that the cuffitis is better I should be in less GI pain, but I will be setting myself up for fatigue and injury if I get too enthusiastic with exercise the same week I nix all carbs.  Specifically weight-lifting and distance running while cutting out my main source for glycogen stores will be a bit of a balancing act and will require time for my body to adjust.  One thing working in my favor, however, is that I can consume as much protein as I want, which will be great for repairing and building muscle as well as trimming down unnecessary fat.

I will try to keep you all posted as I navigate the new path of trying to stay athletic and fit while on an indefinitely long-term, no-carb, no-cheat diet.  I will probably stumble here and there, and I may even fall face-first into the mud, but I will never stop picking myself back up, dusting myself off, and trying again to move forward.  Because that's what I do.... because, of course, I'm a fighter.


Test Results Q & A

My email to the gastroenterologist:

Since I was drugged after the endoscopies, I never had a chance to go over results with you. I know your only concern was the cuffitis, but I like to know what's going on with my body. Here are my questions:

1) Do you know what could have caused the ulcer(s) in my j-pouch? Why are you not concerned about them? Could it be Crohn's?

2) I have inflammation in areas other than the cuff: stomach, ileus, pouch, etc... I assume this is not ALL cuffitis. So what could cause inflammation in other areas, and could it be contributing to my symptoms?

3) Two types of metaplasia, due to chronic inflammation... From my prior UC, GERD, SIBO, or all of the above? Precursor to cancer? Why is it not a concern?

4) Following up with local GI for cuffitis, but I originally came to you for the SIBO, which never got addressed other than a "try FODMAPs". Is that really all the help you can give me? I have been living with painful SIBO symptoms for almost a year and am at my wit's end.

Thank you for any help.

The doctor's reply:

Your upper endoscopy was completely normal. The biopsies with mild chronic inflammation are not significant and should not cause symptoms. We biopsy for h pylori and celiac which there was no evidence of. Every pouch is a little inflamed as small bowel is not meant to act as a reservoir for stool. Therefore we commonly see a little ulceration or inflammation in the pouch. Ulcers in the pouch are not diagnostic of Crohn's. You would need to see ulcers in the small bowel above the pouch which we did not see. It is unlikely that the normal appearing mucosa with mild inflammation on biopsy is contributing to symptoms. We would usually see redness, ulcers or swelling like we do in the cuff. Metaplasia is not a concern, dysplasia is a concern. There are no guidelines to follow metaplasia as it has never been shown to be of significance

The best treatment for SIBO is rifaxmin 400 mg three times per day for 10 days. (alternatively 550 mg twice a day for 10 days). Insurance does not cover this but if you want to pay out of pocket we can send another prescription. You have tried cipro and flagyl before. Another possiblity is augmentin twice daily for 10 days followed by probiotics.

[Note: I've tried high-dose xifaxan, cipro, and flagyl. However, although the 14-day dose of any antibiotic works great for pouchitis, it doesn't seem to do much of anything for the SIBO symptoms, and when I come back to the doctor after that, I pretty much get a metaphorical shrug. As in, that's all they've got for me.]

Feel free to leave reactions and comments below...
  Previous Post                                                                                                             Next Post  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, New Life

Us at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco
(I'm on the left, obviously caught mid-laugh.)
First off, let me just say that I had a great New Years Eve partying it up in San Francisco with my cousin and her friends.  We talked, drank, danced, laughed, counted down the new year, cruised the city, slept it off, and then woke up to have an amazing breakfast (okay, lunch) at a food truck festival downtown in the beautiful sunshine.  We all agreed that 2014 was going to be a great year, maybe the best year yet for yours truly.

Now down to business.  Overall my j-pouch finished healing and adjusting many months ago.  However, I still have a couple related issues that have been causing me trouble.  Once I get these two things under control, I believe I will be feeling 100% and able to really throw myself into being an athlete again.  Here they are...

Treating Microbial Overgrowth

In July I posted about having an overabundance of gas in my G.I. tract and how I was able to treat it with a simple fix.  Well, it wasn't long before it came back, and it has been plaguing me ever since. The doctors have tried what they can do, but nothing has helped much.  I also developed other symptoms, so I was dealing with painful bloating, excessive belching, excessive flatulence, intense perianal itching, and even cracks at the corners of my mouth at one point.  This lets me know that it is affecting me top to bottom.  I have been doing lots of research over the past several months and have learned that my issue is due to a severe overgrowth of either bad bacteria, bad yeast (fungus), or both, and it spans my entire G.I. tract indicating a pretty severe case.

Since my last blog post, I have realized that some of my undesirable j-pouch behavior may be due to mild pouchitis symptoms triggered by the bacteria and yeast overgrowth in my G.I. tract.  My symptoms have mostly been overabundance of gas build-up in my stomach and intestine (no matter how much I pass up or down) and intense parianal itching.  However, the more I learn about this problem and how it interacts with the gut and the gut's relationship to immune and brain function, the more I realize that my overall health and other issues may also be affected by this issue as well, such as lowered immune function (getting sick with cold and flu recently), fatigue, brain-fog, irritability, etc.

I have been living with this problem since late spring, and the doctors are at a loss after antibiotics and simple diet change didn't do a whole lot.  So I have taken matters into my own hands.  After doing many hours of online research, I have learned that this issue is very difficult to treat and can take up to six months to resolve more severe cases like mine, but there are things I can do to help.  Treatment is a three-pronged approach: diet change; antibiotics and/or antimicrobial supplements (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral); and strong probiotics.  The diet change requires eating little or no foods that the bacteria and yeast can feed on, which is mostly any type of carbohydrate, so this means a low-carb diet.  The antimicrobial supplements will help to kill off the bad bacteria and yeast, and the probiotics will replenish the gut with good bacteria and yeast that will take up "real estate" in my gut and help to block the growth of the bad bacteria and yeast.  For severe cases, one branch of treatment alone will not do much, and all three need to be maintained for several months in order to fully treat the condition.  To start this treatment, I decided to do a little kick-off at the new year.

My plan was to starve the little buggars.  If there is no food in my gut, they will have nothing to eat and will die.  I have been fasting since Thursday, taking in only clear healing and antimicrobial liquids: slow-cooked homemade chicken bone broth, ginger tea, green tea, and other herbal teas.  I have also been adding in a few other natural supplements that research shows to be more effective (and less toxic) than antibiotics or other prescription meds.  They are all totally packed with powerhouse nutrients as well as strong antimicrobial and antioxidant properties: grapefruit seed extract, oil of oregano, and coconut oil.  (Benefits of each food/supplement listed at the bottom of this blog post.)

Since I started this cleanse, I have been experiencing "die-off" effects, which is from the toxins that are released when large amounts of bacteria/yeast die, but fortunately they have not all been at the same time. Day 1 was severe weakness, fatigue, and sore throat.  Day 2 was headache, short mild fever, milder fatigue.  Day 3 (today) has been increased gas and chest congestion.  The fatigue is mostly gone, but I am still taking it easy and mostly vegging out since I know my body is being taxed with processing the toxins and little-to-no food.

I found in my research that both chicken and hard aged cheese have practically nothing that the bacteria or yeast could feed on, so yesterday I had just a couple ounces of chicken topped with parmesan to give me some energy.  I will probably have some more this evening and then start to carefully introduce specific foods tomorrow.  If I could keep the fast going longer, I would aim for a full week, but unfortunately I return to work on Monday, and I'd like to be eating by then in order to have enough energy to deal with my classroom full of rowdy teenagers.  However, as I start eating again, I will be careful to start with foods that have no or very little fermentable properties that bacteria/yeast could feed on (except yogurt=probiotics), and I will continue with the powerful antimicrobial supplements.  This would be stage two of my plan, which will last about a week.  Stage three is to introduce other foods for a fuller diet while still keeping everything as low-carb as possible (since bacteria and yeast both feed on carbs) and continuing with the supplements.  This stage may last several months until I feel the issue has been fully treated.

Treating Iron Deficiency

The other issue I have been dealing with lately is iron-deficiency anemia.  I have always had fairly low iron levels, but recently they have plummeted.  I believe this is due to my history with UC, my surgeries, my omeprezole (GERD medication that blocks iron absorption), and my bacteria/yeast overgrowth that also interferes with absorption.  I started feeling very weak, fatigued, short of breath from simple tasks, elevated heart rate, frequent scary/intense heart palpatations, and irritability.  (Which means no working out for the past couple months.)  I know that j-pouchers have a higher risk of both iron and B-12 deficiency, so about a year out from my surgeries I made an appointment to get my blood levels checked for any nutritional deficiencies that may be affecting me.  Turns out everything was in normal range except for my iron.  The most common test for iron is to check your ferritin level.  Ferritin stores and releases iron in your blood and can give a very accurate measure of how much iron is in your system.  Normal ferritin levels (depending on gender and age) range from around 15 up to 300.  Mine was at a 1.  My B-12 was also a little low.  All my other abnormal blood results (hemoglobin, hematorcrit, red blood cell size, etc.) were all due to this iron deficiency, which constitutes a diagnosis of anemia.

My primary care physician decided to send me to a hemotologist (blood specialist) in order to help resolve the issue.  I immediately started taking iron supplements, but since my level was so low, and since I have a few factors interfering with absorption, the hemotologist set me up with iron infusions.  The plan is to do two infusions, one week apart, and then wait a month to give my body a chance to respond by making more hemoglobin, hematocrit, etc., and then retest my levels to see if I need more iron.
My doctor thinks I may need at least four infusions to get me to a good level.  After that, we will continue regular monitoring of blood levels and administer iron infusions as needed, possibly for the rest of my life if necessary.  So back to the cancer center it was, since that's the only location around that does infusions of any kind.  I just finished my second infusion yesterday.  The lady at the counter asked if iron infusions make me feel like Popeye afterwards, but unfortunately that's not how it works.  It takes weeks for the body to get blood levels back to normal once it's receiving enough iron, so I should be slowly feeling better over the next few weeks.  The heart palpitations and shortness of breath are already gone.  (Yay!)

So these are the two remaining issues affecting my health, and both are being treated effectively.  Hopefully I should be feeling tip-top by spring.  I truly believe that 2014 will be the year I stop feeling like a patient and start feeling like a normal person, which is very exciting to me.  I am eager to feel truly healthy again and to get back into working out now that my anemia is normalizing.  Still fighting on, as always!

Healing Foods and Supplements

The following information is a compilation from many online resources.  Feel free to Google "ginger benefits" (or whichever item you're looking up), and you will find all the same sources I viewed to collect this info.

Chicken bone broth, if made correctly, is packed with nutrients, minerals, and healing properties.  It can be a powerful remedy not only on overall health  and immunity but on the gut in particular.  The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients.  It can fight infection, reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system, reduce joint pain, and help with bone repair.  The collagen and gelatin also support strong and healthy skin, hair, and nails.  It should be a go-to remedy any time you have digestive issues or any type of infection (cold/flu).
Easy Prep: I have found the easiest way to make homemade bone broth is to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, strip all the meat to either eat or freeze, and then throw the carcass, bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin (all contain vital nutrients) into a crock-pot.  Add a bunch of celery, carrot, onion, parsley, and garlic.  You don't even have to chop it very small since it's all getting strained out in the end.  Fill the rest of the crock-pot with water, cook it overnight (about ten hours), and it should be ready by morning.  Just run it through a colander, and voila!  I put mine in a pitcher in the fridge and heat it up by the mugful.

Ginger is widely used throughout the world for a all sorts of digestive issues, including nausea, gas, bloating, loss of appetite, colic, diarrhea, upset stomach, and acid reflux.   It improves digestion and absorption.  It has also been known to treat/improve upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, cough, congestion, asthma, migraines, menstrual cramps, libido, immune system function, cancer, Alzheimer's, fat loss, arthritis, muscle pain, blood sugar stability, circulation, and to help protect and repair the liver.  One of the main benefits for people like you and me is that it effectively reduces inflammation in the intestines.
Easy Prep: I finely mince the ginger, simmer it in a saucepan for fifteen minutes, strain it into a pitcher, and heat it up by the mugful.  You can also add a teabag to the cup for added flavor or other healing herbs.

Green tea is well-known to be a powerful antioxidant to reduce damage and aging to the body.  It can improve blood flow, treat cancer, prevent clots, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.  It improves brain function and helps treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  It it also well known to stabilize blood sugar, protect against a high-fat diet, and increase metabolism to aid in weight loss.  The amino acid theanine it contains can have a calming affect, helping you to relax and de-stress to aid in depression or anxiety.
Easy Prep:  Add a tea bag to a mug of very hot water (not boiling).  Lemon helps boost it's effects, but milk does the opposite.  Four cups a day is recommended for maximum effect.  (Just watch out for the caffeine - you can get it decaf.)  I plan to start drinking a cup every morning with lemon and honey when I first wake up, since the health and weight-loss benefits of both lemon and honey in the morning alre also well-documented.  (Coffee can wait until I get to work.)

Yes, it is a high-calorie food, but they're all GOOD calories and can actually effectively aid in fat loss.  In addition to being antimicrobial (kills bacteria, viruses, and yeast/fungi), it can help regulate blood sugar and thyroid function, increase metabolism, give you energy, lower cholesterol, and aid in digestion and absorption.  It is a powerful antioxidant, which means it reduces damage and aging to your body.  It can also be used on skin and hair as a strong moisturizer/conditioner.
Easy Prep: I either eat it by the spoonful (it has a mild coconut flavor) or put a dollop to melt in my tea.  It can be used in place of oil or butter for cooking and can be added to just about any food recipe.  It can also be found in capsule form if you want to add it to your daily pill regimen.

A number of studies show that oil of oregano is a strong antimicrobial as well, killing bacteria, fungus, viruses, and parasites.  It is an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine and promotes liver regeneration.  It can also aid in digestion and intestinal healing; new research shows that it is just as powerful at treating colitis as prescription meds.   A study reported in the journal Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology found that oil of oregano caused a significant difference in terms of ulceration, mucus cell depletion, inflammatory cell infiltration, vascular dilatation, crypt abscesses, and edema.  It can also help prevent/treat cancer, cold, muscle pain, acne, dandruff, bronchitis, toothache, headaches, heart conditions, allergies, intestinal parasites, earache, fatigue, insect repellent, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.
Easy Prep: I take 1-2 capsules at bedtime (since it can cause strong-flavored belches during the day.)

 GSE is an incredibly powerful antimicrobial and disinfectant.  It kills hundreds of strains of bacteria, fungi/yeast, and viruses.  It has been shown to be more effective than antibiotics, alcohol, and surgical soap at treating and disinfecting.  It is a very effective treatment and prevention for food poisoning, traveler's bug, colds, flu, herpes, toenail fungus, and any type of infection. It can also be applied to wounds.  In liquid form, it can be mixed with a little olive oil to be put on cold sores overnight to effectively kill the herpes virus and treat the cold sore. It can be used to clean/disinfect anything around the house, can be sprayed on plants and bugs, and can replace chlorine in swimming pools.  What's more is that it is completely safe for humans, pets, and the environment.  AND it apparently has some magical ability to differentiate between the bad bacteria and the good flora in your gut.  Supposedly it kills of the bad while leaving the good.    Many people who have been using it for decades swear by it and say it's a must-have in every household.
Easy Prep: For acute treatment I take two 125mg tablets twice a day.  For long-term effects, I will reduce to one tablet twice a day.

Other teas/herbs that are great for both digestion and overall health: chamomile, peppermint, clove, cinnamon.

DISCLAIMER:  Although the side-effects and contraindications are few and far between for these sorts of natural supplements, I have not listed them here.  Please do your own research and/or talk to your doctor before starting treatment with any new supplement or dietary change.

Feel free to leave reactions and comments below...
  Previous Post                                                                                                             Next Post