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A year in review

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Well, what a year, and one which I can probably say has ended slightly on the positive side. I wouldn’t say that I’ve picked up a huge amount of forward momentum, but more stopped the rot and stabilised. Also coming across GAPs towards the latter part of the year has filled me with a deep confidence that recovery is possible, despite how complicated it seems at the moment.

Despite knowing allot about my health and what I thought I needed to do to try and get better, this year did see some moments that further plunged me into illness and toxicity. If I remember correctly there were at least 3 occasions where I binged on food. These weren’t your average binges either, they were huge, jolting my body from a generally low carb diet to massive amounts of sweets, breads, junk food, drinks etc for days at a time. This was partly fuelled by depression, but also a lack of stability diet wise as I became increasingly aware of how sensitive I was to even healthy low GI carbohydrates and their ability to encourage a devastation of food. These were old feelings re-surfaced as sugar addiction was in part responsible for my health decline about 2.5 years ago.

It wasn’t until September this year when I managed to stop the rot. The most recently and hopefully last binge was when I went back for some more blood tests and an endoscopy. Surprise surprise everything came out normal and having to do a reasonable fast for the endoscopy and having no choice but to consume carbohydrates from clear liquids in the form of sugar, acted as a catalyst after the procedure to hit the chocolate and everything else.

Touch wood those days are well and truly behind me now. In fact I did stray from the diet at Christmas but haven’t beat myself up about it too much. Whereas last year I strayed and ate things like peanuts, crisps, chocolate and all the components of a roast dinner, this year ‘cheats’ were some buckwheat, sunflower seeds, adzuki beans and a small amount of sweet potato. None really GAPs legal and I did consciously have to be a bit mindful of not overdoing the carbs and revisiting that ‘bad place’ but soooo much better than the Christmas before. I’d like to think my mood around family and friends was also improved as a result of somewhat more controlled cheats than the year previous, where I spent the majority of the day constipated, depressed, emotional and in my room while the family played games.

However, I still have a looong way to go and am not quite sure how to go about it this coming year. I have identified that my gut and liver are the prime problems, and potentially the cause of all my health issues. Throw in allot of adrenal stress, either as a result of these problems or as a causative factor.

What’s really tested my character this year has been quite a few failed attempts at supplements and  different foods. The first experiment was with eggs – local, organic and free range of course, half a teaspoon a day. In spite of symptoms I increased to one yolk and held at this level for about a month. Let’s just say my brain effectively stopped working for this month! I had chronic intense brain fog, anxiety, less stable blood sugars and generally felt extremely agitated and ramped up. Quite different from the ‘flu’ of die off and thus I had to admit defeat.

Next was sauerkraut, and interestingly I had a similar reaction to that of the eggs. Add to that a bit of a craving and it had all the hallmarks of an intolerance. This one frustrated me as I so wanted to align myself to as many components of the GAPs diet and WAP in general as I could, but my body was seemingly rejecting each attempt, even with the low and slow approach. This perhaps might suggest some form of sulphur issue, which no doubt is in part or predominantly due to a lack of decent gut flora.

Given my struggles with natural foodstuffs, I then decided to try going the capsulated probiotic route. It started okay (okay meaning I didn’t experience much of an effect) on 30 billion capsule once in the morning. Diarrhea then hit for the first time in about 3 years (I’m generally constipated) and lasted a few days. Through fear of loosing too much weight on an already skeleton body I abandoned the probiotics and gave my body a chance to ‘reset’. Fortunately it did, and as oppose to starting up the same brand, I instead opted for the uber strong custom probiotics.

These unfortunately caused me some problems, problems which seemed to linger despite ceasing the dosage. This was/is a real tough period and my liver was screaming for weeks. Seemingly nothing helped, enema’s, backing off supplements, reducing foods to make them as digestible as possible etc.

And that’s pretty much where I’m still at. To summarise my symptoms at the moment….

- Liver/Gallbladder stress. Such a massive problem. Usually with it comes some digestive discomfort in the form of a gnawing bloating feeling in the stomach. Also really locks me up in terms of trying to make inroads into the Candida and leaky gut as healing reactions are too difficult.

- Constipation. Another biggy, although I have made some progress with the discovery that magnesium citrate helps. Ties in a little with the liver as loose and free flowing bowels seemingly takes a little stress off of it and ensures I’m eliminating toxins.

- Irritated gut. Pretty much where I suspect all the problems lie. My colon ‘feels’ very inflamed, noticeable especially when passing bowels movements and no doubt my small intestine isn’t in great shape either. Despite the comprehensive gut healing approach of GAPs, it been hard to implement much either due to sensitivities or the liver kicking up a fuss. Not quite sure what my next move will be.

- Chronic fatigue. I’m fairly immobile throughout the day, typically only having the energy to jump in my car and go to work, then jump back. This effectively means I’m trapped by my illness and am quite isolated, which certainly doesn’t help the mood. Really just have to hope and pray that some energy will come from somewhere such that I can pursue hobbies/interests etc and oddly hope I have the energy to relax!

- Food sensitivities. I have too many to count, seemingly reacting to carbs in general, ‘potent’ foods such as tomato’s, onions, garlic, eggs etc, dairy, yeast, nuts and struggling with too much fiber from veg. Gut and liver combined I suspect are responsible here.

So I go into the new year in a bit of a muddled cloud. Despite GAPs being a very specific and laid out protocol, I feel I might need to approach a practitioner of some sort for some general advice and to keep me on the straight and narrow. I have no idea if what I’m doing is right in terms of supplements, foods etc and can only guess based on my reaction to trying things. For example I’d like to know if it’s possible and relatively cheap what my mineral levels might be or how I can support the liver rather than feel like it’s being stimulated, or whether my very low carb diet is actually beneficial.

Away from the food I also hope to make some big changes. My environment isn’t exactly productive to healing at the moment due to sharing with people I don’t generally click with in an old house. Considering the kitchen is pretty much ‘The hub’ of the GAPs diet its frustrating when space has to be shared or people don’t clean up equipment you want to use etc etc. I may be able to start looking for my own place although know it will be a significant financial expense.

Away from GAPs I also don’t do allot. I’m often tied to my computer through physical exhaustion and don’t really have many friendships. I’ve always been the independant type and now that I’m always shattered at the times I have time to socialise I find it tricky to hit that ideal combination of stress free, enjoyable, sociable activities. I’ve also neglected to do enough relaxation in the form of meditation, baths etc, which again unfortunately is dependant somewhat on my environment.

I also feel I need to divert funds to healing rather than being so tight. Being male I have a natural attraction to gadgets and the like and despite overall being quite good with my money, I often find I’ve purchased this game which I won’t be able to play or a certain supplement I won’t use. I could for example use this on some regular acupuncture or some form of therapy/relaxation that might be beneficial. Ultimately I want to be able to pursue some interests such as learning a language or learning a musical instrument but mind and body have to be willing. Will be no use if I’m effectively immobilised with liver ache the night I have a language/music lesson.

So all in all I’m trying to remain positive. I’m probably in a slightly better spot than last year although have a long way to go.

Fingers crossed.


A year in reviewDynamic Neural Retraining Program (DNRS)


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People in this conversation

  • Hi Matt,

    It's a long trip to the land down under so some company on the flight(s) would be welcome!

    My adrenals are clearly struggling - symptoms, ASI results and positive response to DHEA and licorice (to raise cortisol) are testament to that. Like you however, I get no benefit from taking nutrients aimed at adrenal support i.e. vitamin C, pantothenic acid etc. Whether this is due to poor digestion and absorption or inability to utilise these nutrients for adrenal hormone production for reasons such as high demand from other biochemical pathways or toxicity/oxidative stress, is of course difficult to determine. I try to bypass potential problem "road blocks" in biochemical pathways and supplement with active end products where I can. I also bypass the digestive system with things such as B12 injections to avoid absorption problems.

    It's a same old catch-22 for us canaries isn't it. We need testing to be able to effectively treat but we're too ill to earn the cash to pay for the tests! There are loads more that I would ideally like to do and I do have savings but the problem is that you need to repeat tests periodically to track treatment response...and that demands a high regular income!

    If the liver is not functioning correctly there will undoubtedly be digestive problems as a result. Bile may not be produced in sufficient amounts which impairs fat digestion. And like you say, the bile that6 is secreted into the duodenum via the bile duct is caustic/toxic and thus causes irritation to the GI mucosa, further contributing to symptoms. It's a viscious cycle as an irritated mucosa can become hyperpermeable (leaky gut) and add to the toxic burden on the liver. The way I see it we need to address both gut and liver problems simutaneously to make real progress.

    I have to admit that Dr. Cowan is a new one on me. Let me know how you get on and I will try to read up on his approach when I get a bit of free time. Good luck!


    Comment last edited on about 8 years ago by Maff
  • Thanks fella,

    Wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that I might have to hop on that plane to Australia with you!

    No doubting the importance of the adrenals. Perhaps like yourself I ‘feel’ my symptoms are more being steered by my liver and digestion predominantly. It’s been a while since I tried the full range of adrenal support but I do remember not feeling like I was absorbing or utilising the nutrients, with too many caveats in the way mainly due to liver ache and poor digestion. Seems to have the biggest impact on my mood as well.

    I’m not sure if I mentioned this and it is unfortunate as it has dropped to a ‘lower tier’ of health but ever since I took custom probiotics just before Christmas, my liver and subsequent abdominal gnawing has been significantly worse, despite ceasing the dosage. I get the feeling my gut is not in a position to accept probiotics at the moment and naturally have all the concerns about whether it could be SIBO, parasites or something else. Comes down to money at the end of the day, of which I don’t have any, otherwise I might at least see what is revealed on a CDSA and liver function test, or anything else that may be able to detect pathogens. Do you think it’s conceivable that the liver can cause digestive unrest and toxicity? Perhaps due to faulty detoxification mechanisms leading to absorption of toxins? Caustic bile being an aggravating factor for example although I understand it’s the gut that should handles/neutralise this.

    I’ve not got on well with PC/lecithin in the past. It seems to harden my stools and contribute towards constipation. Same with digestive bitters. I’ve not found a scientific reason for this reaction despite it being fairly consistent. I perhaps wonder whether the stimulation of movement of bile/toxins/gallstones (?) cannot effectively be excreted from my body. Considering fibre is an issue for me this might tie in that anything that contributes to bulk in the stool is going to be problematic. I’m only speculating of course.

    I’ve made the decision to approach Dr Cowan in the states for some advice and ideas. Not been under the guidance of a practitioner for a while now and feel it can be detrimental self navigating too much, despite knowing how your body reacts to everything. I opted for him as he is very knowledgeable when it comes to WAP/GAPs, but also when more issues are involved such as chronic fatigue, the adrenals and the liver.

    So things are particularly rough at the moment. Just have to have confidence that it might just be a cycle that will improve naturally and that I’m learning all the time. ‘If you go through hell, keep going’ is a mantra I’m having to repeat often!

    Take care,

    Comment last edited on about 8 years ago by Maff
  • Hey,

    I should have said that although I would consider adrenal fatigue to be an effect rather than a cause (in my case at least) that's not to say that treating it should be overlooked. I found DHEA and licorice (to decrease cortisol breakdown) helped massively in numerous ways but unfortunately had side-effects that I am unable to tolerate at the moment. The most important thing to keep in mind is that successfully supporting adrenal function gives you the energy, stress resistance and stable mood required to make greater efforts in other areas. Just wanted to put that out there...

    Absolutely the same for me in terms of the liver. If it is having a bad time then that is reflected elsewhere. If I am experienced pain in the liver/gallbladder area and have other symptoms of liver distress such as abdominal pain and pale stools then I am also treated to changes in mood, cognition, sleep patterns etc. The link is obvious.

    One doctor who really impressed me when he lectured on my degree course is Dr. George Mouton who is based in London - here's a link [url]http://www.optimumnutritionists.com/pages/therapists.php[/url]. He gave the most comprehensive view of the gut-liver axis I have ever been fortunate enough to come across. He went through every type of microorganism in the gut and the latest research on how they influence health in one lecture and another lecture was devoted to describing each of the major detoxification pathways and the foods, supplements and other substances (e.g. drugs) that both upregulate and downregulate them. He included information on Phase III detoxification, also known as the 'antiporter' system. I have heard from a few people who have been patients of his who say he is expensive and always does loads of tests but to be honest I feel you need to do the tests because as you've said...the liver and detoxification pathways are complicated and everyone is different. I have him in mind to go see myself if my current efforts don't pan out.

    I don't think taking things or continuing with therapies that cause pain or significant worsening of liver symptoms would be the most prudent course of action. I have experienced set backs and subsequent improvements without having to push through anything. From my experience what they say about the liver's excellent healing capacity is true and if you have the right conditions in place it will heal surprisingly quickly. I have noted that keeping my intestines as relaxed as possible (relaxation techniques, meditation etc) and maintaining regular bowel movements has been the single best help for my liver. I have tried enemas on a number of occassions as well as "liver/gallbladder flushes" and they produced excruciating worsening of symptoms without any noticeable benefit...despite my perseverence.

    You should really try to get hold of a copy of the Detoxx Book as the diet this recommends is based on the importance of the right balance of fats for detoxification and general health. The protocol the author's recommend also focuses on the use of PC and other lipids therapeutically. There is an article by the author's of the book here - The Detoxx System: Detoxification of Biotoxins in Chronic Neurotoxic Syndromes

    I don't seem to have any problems with eggs although I wouldn't say I eat a lot of them at present, I mainly get my protein from meat, fish, lentils and nuts. We'll see how it goes when I'm downing two raw every day!

    My diet is I suspect very similar to yours...high protein, high fat, low carb. I too have major issues with blood sugar control, and the gut dysbiosis, so this both seems most logical and makes me feel the best I can. You might be interested to here that my recent test results from Acumen identified BPA as a DNA adduct for a gene involved in gluconeogenesis, i.e. BPA is blocking efficient production of blood glucose from non-carb sources which would inevitably contribute to hypoglycaemia one would suspect.

    Oh yes, there appears to be only one place in the world that will do HPI (via nasal feeding tube to include small intestine) for people with a diagnosis of ME/CFS or IBS and that is The Probiotic Therapy Research Centre in Sydney, Australia. I first came across it 10 years ago but it seemed extreme back then. Now I feel it is probably my best hope so a long and expensive trip awaits this year if all goes to plan!

    Glad you like the new look site :) . My advice however would be for the sake of your health, if you ever think about trying to run a site like this by yourself...talk yourself out of it quickly (or at least use ready made and easy to use software)!

    Have a good weekend buddy.

    Comment last edited on about 8 years ago by Maff
  • Hey fella,

    yeah it's certainly been an interesting year.

    With my experience of Dr Lam's protocol, which is fairly basic in all honesty, and a few other supplements, I likewise lean towards not considering the adrenals to be the single biggest factor in my poor health. I do think it's important they are 'propped up', but with faulty digestion and an overworked/sluggish and toxic liver you probably won't make much progress.

    I'm not sure if you can say the same but for example if my liver decides to throw a bit of a fit and ache, I'll be more wired, more irritable and sleep patterns will change. No amount of deep breathing, tyrosine, vitamin C or whatever can really help with this it seems.

    I'll think I'll be on the hunt for someone to work with this year. But, liver experts seem hard to come by (especially those that are able factor in leaky gut/gut dysbiosis). Candida is hard enough to treat but In my experience you can get at least some measurable feedback i.e. this particular supplement is causing die off, a sensitivity, change in bowel habits etc. With the liver it seems you so in the dark. Is my liver aching because it's doing some necessary detoxing? What sort of toxins is it trying to process that are causing the stress? Do I need push through periods of tenderness to see some eventual improvement? Am I weakening myself doing coffee enema's or the like or is the weakness as a result of some much needed detoxification? etc etc. Really does seem like an enigma.

    Also doesn't help that the promoted/recommended liver protocols are completely incompatible with my sensitivities/composition and symptoms. Beets will rock my blood sugars, I don't do well with citrus or garlic, nor with apple juice (for the malic acid), which will also give the candida a field day, as will any juices with a sweet base. Then there are recommendations to reduce even elimate meat for a period of time as a 'cleansing' diet or reduce fat when for me fat is my primary source of calories due to my hypoglycemia and carb sensitivity. Then there is flushing which I probably would try if there was a way to do it without blood sugar dips or too much fasting involved.

    I like the GAPs book and diet as it seems a natural fit, and somewhat justifies the importance of fats in the diet, which suits me. Unfortunately, and it's probably asking too much but it's predominantly focused on healing the gut, such that no supplements/protocols are used/recommended for the liver concurrently. Having posed the question to Dr NCM she recommended juicing with apples, celery and greens, coffee enema's and plenty of good fats. 2 of those I can handle (Although unfortunately I think CE's give me a bit of a buzz) and admittedly I've not tried juicing for any length of time.

    Realising this is turning into a bit of rant! Perhaps I'm having a bad liver day!

    Having said all that, are there any avenues you would recommend? In particular practitioners? I'm purposely not doing much in the way of supplements but do plan to try/test some PC and dandelion root teas. I've found milk thistle to be a little potent and stimulating/mobilising toxins is probably not what I want at the moment. As I've mentioned the jury is out regarding coffee enema's and I do epsom salt baths and castor oil packs on occasion.

    What I also find interesting is the huge difference in symptoms between people, even with the similar diagnosed illnesses. For example fortunately I don't suffer from blood in my stool or long term diarrhea typically associated with crohn's, but how come their livers aren't shot?! Or that they (not in cases) don't suffer with the chronic fatigue? With such symptoms logic would suggest their absorbtion is poorer than mine.

    Well and truly going on off on one so I'll stop!

    The eggs and efa's sounds interesting! Do you handle eggs okay? I'm very jealous if you do as I love the taste but am sensitive to them. Puts my brain in a spin!

    Have you found somewhere that will do the HPI?

    Also not sure I've ever asked but is there a type of diet you tend to stick to that feels most comfortable to you?

    Hope your doing okay mate. Rocking the look of the new site!



    Comment last edited on about 8 years ago by Maff
  • Thanks for posting this extensive update on your progress konnor. I can certainly relate to your experiences and 'eureka' moments.

    I too have veered from a desirable diet on numerous occasions over the past year and had severeal binges on junk food. I also had to resort to caffeine (and sometimes sugar) to get me through the final year of my degree...a little ironic when doing a nutritional medicine degree but the only quick way to get my brain to work at the required level!

    I think our situations are very similar in many ways. Certainly for me I would say the relationship between the gut/liver-axis and adrenal fatigue is from left to right. I can pinpoint times when my gut and liver health have taken turns for the worse and symptoms such as mood swings, cognitive deficits and inability to cope with stress have subsequently become more severe. At our ages I can see very little reason for adrenal fatigue without other underlying problems or unusually severe psychological trauma. This year I too will be focusing on gut and liver therefore with human probiotic infusion (HPI), methylation cycle treatment, and IV phospholipid exchange being top of the list.

    The GAPS book is fantastic and although there is a focus on autism and mental illness I felt I was reading a personal explanation of where I am now due to various contributing factors from before birth that conspired to plunge me into chronic ill health.

    The GAPS diet is very similar to the SCD and also that recommended in the Detoxx Book (check that out if you haven't already!). I will be starting phospholipid exchange therapy proper next week and that will involve daily "smoothies" containing eggs and plant sources of EFAs and other lipids. Will let you know how that goes!

    Here's to a healthier and happier 2011 :)

    Comment last edited on about 8 years ago by Maff

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