Physical Sensibilities: Food and Medicine

“Let food be they medicine and medicine be thy food”

If you’ve been around the real food movement for long you’ve heard this quote by Hippocrates from about 3000 years ago.  It’s one that makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Whatever goes into our mouth will somehow effect our bodies and brains, just as whatever medicine we take is to have an effect on our condition, food, when broken down into it’s constituent parts, gets into our blood stream.  Sometimes parts of food that are not meant to get into our bloodstream do because of gaps in the junctures of our intestine. This then sometimes produces an immune response and our body attacks itself.  This results in an autoimmune condition.  Their are a myriad of autoimmune conditions.  Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, and Celiac, are all examples.

Since the beginning of this year I”ve been living with joint pain, sometimes severe, and occasional severe fatigue.  It ebbs and flows.  On April 1st I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, another autoimmune condition, and the biologic TNF blocker drug, Humira or Enbrel, was recommended.  Being an all natural kind of gal I resisted that and have since been on a quest to find a more natural way to treat or put into remission the PsA.

What I’ve found is that there are no easy answers.

I didn’t particularly like my rheumatologist she only had one answer and seemed to come to the diagnoses in haste.  Maybe she is just really good at what she does but, I just wasn’t convinced.  For one I have no Psoriasis, though as I did my research I found 1 in7 do not develop the skin condition until after the arthritis and it could take 10 years to develop the skin condition.  So I could be the 1 in 7. The diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis is come to through process of elimination, a gene test and health history. I did test positive for the gene marker and my  mother has Psoriasis, but I’ve come to present with these symptoms rather late in life, don’t have any nail pitting and it’s only two fingers that actually have the joint pain. So, I wasn’t totally convinced.

I next sought out a holistic doctor. I really enjoyed having a whole hour to discuss my health history which she considered carefully and ordered more blood tests to rule out Lyme disease and check other things like thyroid levels, estrogen levels and more.  I like the idea of treating the whole person, considering all systems and how they contribute to overall well being.  I also like that they use more natural treatments like curcumin for inflammation, bio identical hormones and whole foods supplements with out synthetic ingredients.  She also is open to alternative treatments like Low Dose Naltrexone, which I had read about in helping inflammatory and auto-immune conditions. They also have a nutritionist on staff to talk about diet and detox.

This particular practice also treats Lyme disease aggressively through a variety protocol.  Lyme disease is prevalent in the area I live, actually epidemic, so that was something I considered I might have and knew that this doctor would do further testing to rule that out.  While the tests ordered showed elevation in the markers for Lyme there was no clear cut test for Lyme itself or the often present co-infections so a diagnosis of Lyme, similar to the PsA, is conjecture. The doctor there is convinced I have Lyme disease and not Psoriatic Arthritis.

Having two doctors come to two different conclusions can be perplexing.

Without a clear diagnosis, at least in my mind, I’ve turned to diet for my first line of treatment.  The Auto-Immune Protocol developed and promoted in the Paleo community is an elimination diet that takes out all inflammatory and possibly problematic foods, (grains, dairy, legumes, nightshades, eggs and seeds) in hopes of healing the supposed permeable gut and from there hopefully, healing the rest of the body.  I’ve been totally off gluten since the beginning of the year, I have not been able to stick to a strict AIP diet though.  Coffee being one item I keep falling back on, but since Tuesday I’ve started again and I’m determined to stick it out for a month before reintroducing foods that were eliminated.

I have also been on Low-dose naltrexone for a couple of months.  This was working wonderfully for pain and I was totally off any over-the-counter NSAIDS which was hopeful. Lately though it hasn’t seemed as effective and I’ve had some flairs of joint pain and fatigue.  Through it all the inflammation has only minimally improved. My right thumb, left middle finger, and left toes have been constantly swollen.  I also have a strange nodule on my right clavicle, I went to my GP for that and she ordered a sonogram which showed nothing of concern, but it is sometimes painful. I’d like to get further testing for that.

doTerra essential oils has a Lyme protocol that I’ve put my self on.  There are oils that have antibiotic properties that many have found effective in treating Lyme. I started that 2 weeks ago with my first round of antibiotic oils along with their vitamin supplements.  The relapse in some symptoms could be a herxheimer reaction but I’m still not convinced that I have Lyme but thought it couldn’t hurt.

There is controversy surrounding essential oils. There are two sides to the Lyme epidemic. Many holistic doctors are considered quacks.  The side effects of the biologic drugs are scary. The worsening of joint pain and possible permanent damage to the joints while trying other interventions is scary too.  No easy answers.

I may eventually, in another month or so, head back to the rheumatologist and try the biologics. In the meantime I’ll stick to the diet and hope it maybe as simple as food being my medicine.



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