Most people who start looking into herbal medicine do so because modern or western medicine has failed them or someone they love in horrible ways. I started my “divorce from western medicine” almost 5 years ago. Even though I knew about the dangers of the standard American diet many years before, as a single working mother of 2 special needs children, I had neither the time nor the energy to investigate it properly. It was March 2015. I got what I thought was the stomach flu… only it never went away. I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis between the ages of 37 and 40. I was on boatloads of medications for pain, the resulting depression and mental stress from living with a malignant narcissist for a decade also had me on multiple psychiatric medications. In all, I was on 19 daily prescriptions by the age of 45.
This particular experience blew everything out of the water. I had to take FMLA from my job. I had 30 hospital admissions in 26 months. A completely liquid diet for almost 3 years. They removed my gall bladder and yet, 12 GI doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Finally, in May of 2017, I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. Literally, paralyzed stomach. The vagus nerve that runs from the brain stem, through all your internal organs and ends at the bottom of the stomach and is responsible for causing the stomach to contract and break down food, died. My research told me that 70% of people with GP are diabetic. I am not diabetic. They called it “idiopathic” Gastroparesis. Idiopathic is the medical term for “we have no idea why it’s happening”. Strictly speaking this is not true. My own research showed me that around 80%-95% of people who are diagnosed with idiopathic GP, have been on narcotic pain killers for an extended amount of time. The medicine that was supposed to be helping me was in fact killing me slowly. I lost over 100 pounds and developed wasting syndrome, secondary to my RA.
During this same period of time, the doctors decided my hip needed to be replaced because the pain was “uncontrolled”. I walked with a limp. In June 2017, I had full replacement of my right hip that went swimmingly. I was up, walking and recovering (but still couldn’t really eat). 3 weeks after my surgery, I developed a Strep B injection in the joint that sent me to ICU for 5 days, a complete leg washout and 2 months in a “SNF” (Skilled Nursing Facility) for IV antibiotic regimen. They almost killed me twice, but that’s another story. Not one person had bothered to check whether or not I was malnourished BEFORE the replacement.
When I got out of the hospital, I decided right there and then to take responsibility for my own health. I was lucky. I had a fantastic PCP and rheumatologist that were willing to work with me on this journey. First change was my diet. I switched to a completely paleo diet. No grains, no legumes, no dairy, no processed food of any kind. I applied for my medical marijuana card (the medical benefits of cannabis will be an entire article, later, because it honestly saved my life). I began to use a full extract cannabis oil daily. I titrated off all pain medicine within 4 months. One by one, I have found either dietary, herbal or coping mechanisms to eliminate the need for prescription medication. I stated moving my body. No matter how much it hurt. I realized that the more I moved the less I hurt.
The wasting syndrome was and still is a huge issue for me. I realized that the paleo diet I was eating was highly nutritional but that it causes your body to run on fat instead of carbs, hence further weight loss. The Gastroparesis (incurable but highly manageable) also limited my food intake to about 25 bites per day and, because my stomach doesn’t break food down, I was really only absorbing about 5%-10% of what I needed. I began selective supplementation with supplements that were not only more bioavailable but closer to what my body needed than some highly processed supplements. I didn’t want to end up on a feeding tube. I had gone from 270 pounds to 137 in about 16 months. I did my research and found that if I incorporated legumes back into my diet, I didn’t lose as much weight. However, with wasting syndrome, my body was also “eating” the protein out of my muscles as fast as I could build it. I also added back in dairy. However, I chose to use organic goat diary, rather than cow dairy. Cows have 3 stomachs, which is most likely the reason so many people are lactose intolerant. Goats have one stomach like we do, so goat dairy appears to cause less issues (for me, at least).
I also started going to the gym 3 times a week. I incorporated yoga, Pilates and indoor rock climbing into my repertoire. Every day, I felt better, more in control of my life. I was getting stronger. I, slowly, changed one bad habit at a time. Am I perfect at it?? Hahahahahahaha! No, not at all. I have learned to listen to my body. I have learned to research everything fully. I have learned that there are so many other options for healing out there than western medicine.
There ARE things that western medicine excels at such as trauma and ACUTE conditions. However, if you are dealing with chronic conditions, I promise that western medicine’s allopathic look at your health will almost never work. We are living in an age of instant gratification. People don’t want to be uncomfortable. They don’t want to feel pain. They want a quick fix. The approach of having a medicine for every symptom and the standard American diet of fast and processed, canned, out of a box food is what is killing us slowly. If you want true health, you have to want it bad enough to make real changes in how you live. I did and I don’t think I have ever felt better.
Stay tuned…. The health journey doesn’t end until death, but I am going to explain for you the reason why food, natural herbs, remedies and organic lifestyles are the way to live your best life!