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As you might know, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a type of autoimmune condition) in 2010, and before I discovered functional medicine, I thought that I would be taking a thyroid medication for the rest of my life. With the help of the talented and caring doctor Myrto Ashe, MD and to the disbelief of “conventional” medicine doctors, I was able to recover from this condition.
Unfortunately, I was struck by another autoimmune condition called Addison’s, or adrenal insufficiency, where adrenals stop producing cortisol, a hormone absolutely crucial for living. It is a rare autoimmune condition that is hard to diagnose outside a teaching hospital. Prior to the diagnosis, I was very fatigued, nauseous, and losing weight, and essentially unable to function. I was also experiencing panic attacks, which was strange and scary because I had never experienced anything like that before. Luckily, I was admitted to the acute division at UCSF, a prominent teaching hospital, where they were able to diagnose me.
Currently, I am dependent on a synthetic cortisol hormone and have to take medication 4-5 times a day in order to keep alive.
I’ve been working with Dr. Ashe to recover from this condition as well, which is even more challenging because I won’t know if my adrenals can start producing cortisol until I stop taking medication. But if I do not get enough cortisol, I may go into a coma or die. So if you have adrenal insufficiency, please don’t experiment with this without the guidance of an experienced medical professional. In other words: do not do what I am attempting to. It’s stupid and you will most likely die. My husband, an attorney, is making me say it that explicitly.
Despite the fact that there is only one documented case of recovery from Addison’s, I am determined to recover from it in 2018 – this is my first New Year resolution.
The main things I am doing to recover from the autoimmune condition
I know many of you asked me what I am doing to recover from the autoimmune condition. So here is a summary of my journey to a healthy life.
Functional medicine addresses the underlying root causes of illness. It utilizes a multi-faceted approach to heal the body. Functional medicine is a science-based medicine that is gaining in popularity.
These are traditionally trained Medical Doctors (“MD’s”) who dared to ask the question, “Why does this person have this illness?” It takes a special person to become a functional medicine practitioner. Their work is more challenging, and they may not make as much as their conventional medicine counterparts, but they are obsessive researchers and perpetual learners who would not have it any other way.
In other words, rather than just treating a disease, functional medicine doctors are trying to understand the root causes of disease so that they can cure them, not just stabilize and maintain a patient’s diminished health.
Addressing the Building Blocks – Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies, Ongoing Toxic Metal Exposure, Antioxidants, Metabolic Markers, the Body’s Ability to Detoxify
I have taken a lot of different tests to determine what factors may be at play in my case. In the course of doing so, I have learned quite a bit.
You might be surprised to hear that chronic deficiency in a vitamin or mineral may prevent the body from healing, have unpleasant symptoms (such as depression, hair loss, fatigue), and even promote the development of a disease.
I have taken a test called NutrEval that is instrumental in showing all necessary markers for bringing the body back in balance. The first time I took the test, it gave a lot of good information including that I was deficient in vitamin Bs, magnesium, had DNA oxidative damage (which could be a precursor to cancer), inability to digest chicken and fish well, limited ability to detoxify (so I have to be super careful around the toxins) and even showed that I had current exposure and an elevated level of mercury (back then I had 7 amalgams).
You can read more about the NutrEval test here.
Figuring out and eliminating hidden allergies
Sometimes we might not have obvious signs of allergy to certain foods. In conventional medicine, for example, you are either celiac or not. There is nothing in-between. The same is with cancer. You may be healthy today by conventional medicine standards, but tomorrow you might be diagnosed with cancer. Signs that might alert a practitioner of functional medicine of a danger of cancer are not investigated in conventional medicine.
In functional medicine, it is very important to diagnose allergies, because they cause inflammation in the body that can lead to an endless number of diseases.
I have been tested to determine allergy to gluten, various grains, dairy, and nightshade vegetables. And my test results have shown that I need to avoid gluten and tapioca. (To be honest, I sure miss eating bread.)
Heavy metals and autoimmune illnesses
I took a challenge test that shows how much metals the body has accumulated over the course of your life – not the ongoing exposure, which is what the NutrEval test is good for. I had elevated levels of lead and mercury. To read more about that and how I was able to decrease the levels, read here.
Gut microbiome and autoimmune condition
I took a test called GI Effects™ Comprehensive Profile that tests for beneficial gut flora, parasites, and harmful bacteria. While I had no parasite and had a good diversity of beneficial bacteria, I also had two strains of harmful bacteria associated with autoimmune conditions.
I was hopeful that I have a chance to recover from the autoimmunity once the harmful bacteria are eliminated. I have taken an extensive course of herbal supplements to get rid of the bacteria. Unfortunately, re-testing showed that I still had the harmful bacteria and thus the herbal supplements did not make an impression on them. So I had to approach the resistant bacteria a different way.
Mold sensitivities and autoimmune condition
I have also been tested for mold sensitivities. Apparently, 24% of us are genetically susceptible to chronic inflammation caused by exposure to mold.
It was determined that genetically I am unable to clear mold and other biological toxins from the body and may develop Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), if exposed to mold. The symptoms of CIRS are similar to fibromyalgia.
For those of us who are genetically mold-susceptible, it’s not enough to do the conventional type of remediation in case of water damage. Most of us are exposed to some level of mold in our buildings – sometimes undetectable to the eye and nose.
Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, the leading researcher in this field, has shown that the typical patient may have over 20 separate symptoms and is often diagnosed with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, or chronic headaches.
My blood tests were borderline, and it was not clear if I am sick with CIRS. We had an inspector who practices Dr. Shoemaker’s method test for mold in our house. As a result, we have improved the quality of the air in our house; and I have had a mold detox therapy and am in the process of re-testing.
Explanting Breast Implants
I had silicone breast implants. It was a mistake I made, more than a decade ago. I was young and I struggled, like so many women in this society, with body-image issues. So I made the decision to “enhance” my figure with breast implants, a decision I deeply regretted.
I was so happy to wear a size B bra that I simply stopped thinking about the fact my body carried two silicone bags filled with saline liquid. I intentionally blocked any information about the possible health effects associated with breast implants – until I just couldn’t anymore. As I came to grips with my condition, I could no longer ignore the fact that out of vanity, I was forgoing the chance to heal and recover from Addison’s, an awful disease.
Two months after the explant surgery, I re-tested 4 markers that are associated with mold illness, inflammation, and autoimmunity. The great news is that 3 of them were way down, with one improving by 50%. And that was in the context that I had been grieving because my mom passed away the following month after the surgery.
Now, a year later, I am in the process of re-testing again and can’t wait for the results.
Fasting mimicking diet and autoimmune condition
Dr. Myrto Ashe encouraged me to get on a fasting mimicking diet. I have completed it and have already observed some exciting results.
When we get hungry, many of us believe we get fatigued, grumpy, or even lightheaded, which is an indication that blood sugar gets very low. In a healthy person, sugar should not be jumping high and low and should be fairly stable.
The fasting mimicking diet is designed to improve overall health, prevent cancer and slow down aging, and even reverse autoimmunity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The fasting mimicking diet works this way. For 5 days each month for 3 months, you can eat a very limited diet, consisting of a specific allowed number of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
During the 5 days, the body begins to clear some damaged and unnecessary cells. Apparently, cancer cells weaken because they can’t adapt to this stress. After returning to a normal diet, new cells are made and organs become regenerated in this manner.
As you can see, I am determined to heal my body and live a healthy and long life. It sounds like a lot of work but I do not feel discouraged because I had experienced the disease and the consuming feeling of pain and helplessness that comes with it. Plus, I have already experienced many benefits. I feel and look much younger than my age. Please let me know in the comments if there are any particular parts of my health journey you are interested in learning more about.
By the way, nothing I say here should be relied upon as medical advice, as I am not a doctor, and you are not my patient. I can only tell you about my experiences and you should consult your doctor for treatments suitable for you.
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